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Citrix XenDesktop features make it a fit for BYOD, graphics workloads

Citrix XenDesktop isn't perfect for every organization, but it can be a good fit for companies with BYOD and a lot of graphics-intensive applications.

Citrix XenDesktop has a few different features that make it a better fit for some organizations than for other...

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Citrix is one of the longest-standing VDI vendors, having initially developed its virtualization technology in 2000. Even so, the company's longevity does not mean it is the best VDI option out there in every situation. Every VDI shop has different needs, which means every VDI product is not an ideal fit.

Citrix XenDesktop features such as intelligent redirection and its HDX technology, as well as some niche client support options, make the platform a good fit for organizations that need those capabilities.

Addressing BYOD

The transition to BYOD can create a number of problems, including application compatibility issues. An application designed to run on a Windows desktop, for example, cannot run natively on an iOS device. Similarly, an iOS application cannot run natively on an Android device. Desktop virtualization and application virtualization address this problem by allowing users to connect to a standard virtual desktop regardless of their device type.

XenDesktop tends to be an especially good fit for organizations that allow users to work from the devices of their choice.

XenDesktop tends to be an especially good fit for organizations that allow users to work from the devices of their choice. Mobile devices require a device-specific client component to connect to a virtual desktop. Most VDI vendors provide clients for the most common operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS X, iOS and Android. XenDesktop also features clients for less popular operating systems, including Linux, BlackBerry/QNX and HTML5/Chrome.

What about graphics-intensive workloads?

VDI has long been considered a poor choice for users who run graphics-intensive workloads, such as computer-aided design or video editing. Virtualization hosts often lack the video hardware necessary to run such workloads efficiently, and latency can also be an issue.

In spite of the challenges, Citrix XenDesktop is a good fit for organizations that run high-demand workloads on virtual desktops. XenDesktop features a collection of technologies referred to as HDX to deliver the best possible end-user experience based on bandwidth and latency. HDX works especially well for users with graphics-intensive applications.

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HDX uses techniques such as adaptive compression and network traffic deduplication to make efficient use of the available bandwidth. XenDesktop also optimizes voice and video codecs so they perform optimally on virtual desktops.

For even more graphics-intensive workloads, XenDesktop can share server-side GPU hardware among virtual desktops to deliver smoother graphical rendering. If necessary, it is also possible to dedicate a server-side video card to a specific virtual desktop with HDX 3D Pro.

Intelligent redirection and peripheral devices

XenDesktop features intelligent redirection to optimize performance. Intelligent redirection monitors a number of key variables that contribute to the overall end-user experience. Some of these variables include screen activity, network capabilities, server load, application commands and the endpoint device type. XenDesktop uses the monitoring data to determine in real time whether it's better to offload tasks from the server and run those tasks on an endpoint device instead.

In addition, XenDesktop limits the effect of peripheral devices. Devices such as webcams, printers and scanners can work locally at the endpoint without requiring network traversal or server-side processing. This allows the devices to work at their native speeds, further improving performance.

Any modern VDI offering should run basic desktop workloads without any trouble, assuming sufficient hardware resources are available. Citrix XenDesktop stands out when it comes to running high-demand or graphically intensive workloads on virtual desktops. XenDesktop is also a good choice for organizations that must support a diverse collection of endpoints.

Next Steps

A closer look at XenDesktop 7.7

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This was last published in October 2016

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