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Understanding Citrix VDI: XenDesktop and VDI-in-a-Box

Citrix VDI options XenDesktop and VDI-in-a-Box may suit different use cases, but that helps the desktop virtualization company bring VDI to any shop.


When you think of Citrix VDI, XenDesktop is probably the product that springs to mind. It's Citrix's main competitor against VMware View, and it's one of the company's flagship products.

But Citrix has another VDI product, too: VDI-in-a-Box. It sometimes gets lost in the shuffle because it's not for everyone, but it still has a place in the virtualization world.

Both Citrix VDI options have similar features. They make it possible for you to deliver virtual desktops to your users, but they do it in different ways. XenDesktop is more full-featured and garners more attention from Citrix, which means it gets new utilities and upgrades more often. But VDI-in-a-Box has most of the tools smaller companies need, without some of the extra costs associated with XenDesktop. Get all the details you need about both sets of VDI software in this guide.


Key terms and definitions

Before you dive into the nitty-gritty details of Citrix VDI, brush up on some relevant definitions.

2Full-grown Citrix VDI-


Along with XenApp, XenDesktop is the bread-and-butter portion of Citrix VDI. XenDesktop is unique compared with other VDI software: You can deploy it on Citrix, VMware and Microsoft hypervisors. Enhancements to the product come with each new release, such as PowerShell commands, hybrid cloud integration and virtual GPU developments. Check out everything you need to know about XenDesktop here.


How XenDesktop 7.5 stacks up

XenDesktop 7.5 has HDX, XenApp and hybrid cloud integration enhancements built in, plus an improved experience for mobile workers. Although there's room for upgrades in areas such as the Profile Management utility, third-party products are available to cover weak spots. Continue Reading


How to make XenDesktop play nice with VMware vSphere

You can deploy XenDesktop on VMware's vSphere hypervisor, but it's important to set up dedicated clusters and consider the number of virtual desktop configurations you're working with. You may need to place a mixture of low- and high-demand desktops in the same cluster to make sure all users get the resources they need. Continue Reading


Installing and configuring Nvidia's GRID vGPU on XenDesktop

XenDesktop's integration with Nvidia's GRID K1 and K2 GPU cards makes it possible to run graphics-heavy applications on virtual desktops. You can allocate the whole virtual GPU to one user who really needs it, or you can share it among workers. Continue Reading


Manage XenDesktop with PowerShell commands

Way back in version 5 of XenDesktop, Citrix added more than 100 cmdlets that let you perform such tasks as creating a VM snapshot, getting a list of admin accounts and disconnecting a session. Continue Reading


Desktops are cool, but apps are cooler

After a decision to fold XenApp into XenDesktop in 2013, Citrix made a major turnaround and said it was a mistake to get rid of XenApp as a standalone product. You can still get it with XenDesktop and in the new Citrix Workspace Services, but you can also get just XenApp again. That's a solid move on Citrix's part because apps are where it's at. Continue Reading

3The all-in-one suite-


Citrix has offered VDI-in-a-Box for a number of years now, but the technology isn't for every shop because it doesn't come with a XenApp license and it lacks some of the more in-depth features that customers get with XenDesktop. As a result, it's taken a back seat to XenDesktop and is sometimes overlooked. But VDI-in-a-Box is a great option for companies that only need to deploy a few virtual desktops because it's significantly cheaper than full-fledged XenDesktop.


Citrix CTO gives insight on roadmap

In his first interview as CTO of desktops and applications at Citrix, Gunnar Berger discussed the company's strategy for the future, including the fact that Citrix will not de-invest in XenDesktop. In fact, he said the company is looking to reinvest in underserved products, a possible nod to VDI-in-a-Box. Continue Reading


What's next for VDI-in-a-Box

When Citrix bought Kaviza in 2011, VDI-in-a-Box became part of Citrix's VDI product line. Since then, the platform hasn't gotten much attention. Now that the company has promised to focus investments in new areas, however, VDI-in-a-Box could see new life. Continue Reading


Want a low-cost alternative to Citrix? Check out Citrix

If you're looking for a way to do VDI that's cheaper than VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop, you don't necessarily have to navigate away from the major vendors. VDI-in-a-Box costs less than half as much as XenDesktop, but it doesn't come with a XenApp license. Continue Reading


VDI-in-a-Box vs. XenDesktop: Which is better for SMBs?

VDI-in-a-Box has features that overlap with XenDesktop, but the all-in-one suite has simpler management and deployment, and a better price than XenDesktop. All those things make it great for small and medium-sized businesses. Continue Reading


How VDI-in-a-box is different than XenDesktop

VDI-in-a-Box is designed for simplicity, so it's easier to scale than XenDesktop, but you can't use HDX 3D with VDI-in-a-Box, and the procedures for maintaining and updating images are very different in each product. Continue Reading

4Software smackdown-

Comparing View and XenDesktop

It's only natural to compare XenDesktop to its biggest competition: VMware Horizon View. Overall, the products are similar, but there are some fine-grained differences, such as how you go about setting up virtual desktop pools, how you handle load balancing and how much customization you can do.


Citrix XenDesktop vs. VMware View

XenDesktop and View are two of the most popular choices for VDI, and they have a lot in common. You can run XenDesktop on hypervisors from VMware, Microsoft and Citrix (of course), which means that XenDesktop is slightly more flexible than View. Continue Reading


Setting up desktop pools in XenDesktop vs. View

XenDesktop and View allow you to create virtual desktop pools through wizards, which make the process easy. With XenDesktop, just select a farm, a host infrastructure and the number of virtual desktops you want to create. But make sure you set up VM templates ahead of time. And with View you'll need at least one snapshot available. Continue Reading


Load balancing in XenDesktop and View

Session load balancing can be a little tricky with XenDesktop and View because there are so many configuration options. You also have to consider whether sessions are persistent or nonpersistent when you balance them. Continue Reading


What the top VDI platforms offer

Citrix XenDesktop 7, VMware Horizon 6 with View, Microsoft Remote Desktop Services, Dell vWorkspace 8 and other non-enterprise VDI platforms can all help you deliver desktops and applications to users. Where they differ is in which hypervisors and protocols they use and which budgets they fit into. Continue Reading


View overview

What makes VMware Horizon View different than XenDesktop? ThinPrin, PCoIP, linked clones and ThinApp, to name a few. But XenDesktop allows you to do more custom engineering than you can accomplish in View. Continue Reading

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