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How do Citrix Workspace Cloud and VMware Project Enzo compare?

Cloud-based management platforms could make it faster and easier for admins to deploy and manage virtual desktops, apps and files. It's easy to see why Citrix and VMware are both getting in on the game.

Cloud-based platforms for deploying and managing a variety of user workspaces are one of the latest trends in desktop virtualization. Citrix Workspace Cloud is already available, and VMware is preparing a competitor with Project Enzo.

In the latest sparring match between the two companies, they both promise their platform will make it easier and cheaper to manage virtual desktops, applications and mobile workspaces through a centralized cloud service. VMware announced Project Enzo -- which still doesn't have a commercial name yet -- during Citrix Synergy, heading off some of the buzz over a test version of Citrix Workspace Cloud (CWC). Citrix fired back by announcing general availability for CWC just days ahead of VMworld.

Workspaces create a centralized environment for employees to access company resources, encompassing an individual user's virtual desktops, applications, data and mobile access. Moving workspace management to the cloud presents an exciting possibility for a lot companies, because IT can centralize administration and make those workspaces available to employees at any location, and on most devices and networks.

But given how new Citrix and VMware's products are, it's still unclear how many organizations are ready to invest in this kind of platform. CWC and Project Enzo claim to streamline the process of designing, deploying and managing workspaces, so both companies are clearly hoping that ease of use will play a role in winning over customers. With the right infrastructure, cloud workspace management is also very scalable and can provide real-time updates.

To get a sense of what these workspace management platforms offer, let's take a look at how Workspace Cloud and Project Enzo compare.

Citrix beat VMware to the market

The first advantage Workspace Cloud has over Project Enzo is rather obvious: Organizations can use CWC now. Project Enzo is still only available as a beta, and VMware isn't yet saying when it will be ready.

CWC provides admins with a central management console to manage workspaces, which Citrix says can cut operational costs by up to 40%. Citrix suggests that companies can save further on expenses by taking advantage of its flexibility -- for example, providing Windows apps hosted on Amazon AWS. CWC also allows organizations the flexibility to use their existing data center and cloud infrastructure, or to switch over at any time to the infrastructure of their choice.

With the right infrastructure, cloud workspace management is very scalable.

Workspace Cloud integrates with Citrix's other virtualization products, which means it works seamlessly with XenApp, XenMobile and ShareFile. Workspace Cloud uses technology based on Citrix's XenMobile Cloud product to offer enterprise mobility management capabilities, allowing admins to use XenMobile delivery groups to deploy workspaces to users' mobile devices. IT can then use the CWC Mobility Management console to add or remove services from mobile workspaces and manage any relevant subscriptions.

Workspace Cloud also secures content sharing with technology from ShareFile, the company's enterprise file sync and share product. CWC automatically creates a Secure Documents account for the organization, which administrators can then use to add single sign-on user authentication using the SAML protocol.

VMware Project Enzo is on the horizon

VMware's end-user computing general manager Sanjay Poonen said in September that VMware is focused on having the best product rather than getting it to the market as soon as possible.

The biggest differentiator between CWC and Project Enzo is that the latter is designed to work with VMware's hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) products, EVO:RAIL and EVO SDDC. HCI combines compute, storage and networking, using software to create a tight integration between all those resources and making the infrastructure easier for IT to deploy and manage. Project Enzo includes VMware's Smart Node technology, which communicates between the infrastructure and Enzo's control center. For companies that don't want to invest in VMware HCI, the company will also allow Project Enzo to connect with existing infrastructure through a Horizon 6 adapter VMware is working on.

Like CWC, Project Enzo includes a central management console that it calls the Cloud-Control Plane, which runs on VMware's vCloud Air infrastructure as a service product. The Cloud-Control Plane gives admins the power to design, deploy and update workspaces much the same way as CWC does.

VMware's Instant Clone, App Volumes and User Environment Management (UEM) products come baked into the Project Enzo platform. Instant Clone creates child clones running from a parent virtual machine, helping admins save on time and scale up quickly. Instead of booting and configuring VMs individually, IT can go through that process once and then duplicate the parent VM. Meanwhile, App Volumes allows IT to deploy and manage virtual applications in real time. Lastly, UEM allows users to carry over settings from login to login across devices. Project Enzo also includes integration with VMware Horizon 6 and Horizon Air, providing management for apps and desktops deployed through those products.

VMware Project Enzo still has to deliver on its promises, but if it matches VMware's description, Enzo could be a cloud-based workspace management platform to rival CWC. Some organizations might choose between Workspace Cloud and Project Enzo based on their preference between Citrix and VMware products. However, that decision will also depend on which is easier to use and performs better, and it will still be a while until admins can make that determination.

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