In the context of virtualization, the terms ‘Citrix’ and ‘VDI’ are used together often. While for any technical person, the differences are blatantly clear, a layman may get confused between the two terms.
Hence, in this article, we discuss how Citrix differs from VDI and touch upon the points that you must consider if you are thinking of shifting to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) from physical PCs.
Why is it called Citrix VDI?
Citrix is a company that provides an array of products and solutions for wireless network security, cloud computing, desktop virtualization, analytics, content collaboration, endpoint management, and more.
One of the products offered by the company is called Citrix VDI or Citrix Virtual Desktop, where the prefix ‘Citrix’ is merely a brand name for the actual product. There are many instances where the end product is popularly identified by the name of the company like Xerox is synonymous with photocopies, while Stepney generally means spare tire.
This is one such example of it. Citrix previously marketed those products under the names of ‘Citrix XenApp’ and ‘Citrix XenDesktop VDI’ and now, they have been rebranded to ‘Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops’. To explain it briefly, XenDesktop is primarily a virtual desktop solution while XenApp is a shared solution. Though XenDesktop and XenApp work via a similar web interface, you have to launch a VDI machine to use XenDesktop while XenApp is used on a shared platform.
VDI is defined as the process of booting up a desktop inside a virtual environment that is hosted (or created) on a server that is managed from some data center. Since the desktop here exists on a virtual machine (VM) instead of a local storage drive (for example), it is referred to as a virtual desktop (VD). Large organizations such as Microsoft, VMWare, and Citrix offer desktop virtualization solutions in the form of desktop-as-a-service (DaaS); however, there are other smaller and nimbler desktop as a service providers such as Apps4Rent in the market, too.
How does VDI work?
A physical desktop has an operating system and relevant system applications that all boot up on a localized hard drive; however, in the case of a virtual desktop, it is booted from a server. Therefore, the user does not own the hardware which runs the VD, nor do they own the desktop itself.
The DaaS or desktop as a service model is quite like that of SaaS or software as a service that follows the concept of ‘renting’ and the user simply pays for the desktop service depending on their requirements from it. Depending on the industry your business is in, you could find virtual desktops to be beneficial or perhaps not so much. Here are some pointers to consider when considering VDIs.
Why consider a VDI?
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) can be of significant benefit to your business; as a business owner, there are several reasons why you should consider moving to virtual desktops or using a desktop as a service (DaaS) instead of purchasing and maintaining local PCs.
- Virtual desktops are completely managed in the cloud, so there is no need for you to individually buy and upgrade PCs to meet the resource requirements of new applications.
- Since you do not have to buy individual PCs and maintain them, your company saves a significant portion of the IT costs which can be better utilized elsewhere in the business.
- Multiple virtual desktops can be configured to run on the same image of an OS, which means that your company saves the time and effort of having to update the OS and relevant applications on each PC separately.
- When desktops are managed in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about their support and maintenance because the virtual desktop solutions provider handles all of that.
- With virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), there are multiple devices using or running the same version or image of OS which means whenever there is an issue to troubleshoot, you only need to do it once.
- If one PC is impacted, the individual can simply switch ON another device or computer and load up their virtual desktop to continue working. Note that the PC here refers to the device used by the individual and not the virtual desktop.
- When your company recruits new employees, you do not need to pay for new licenses of OS (for example) as their PC or thin client can be configured to run an existing image of an OS through virtual desktop infrastructure. Hence, this adds to cost savings.
- Virtual desktops (VD) can be more secure compared to physical desktops because VDI does not allow unauthorized applications to be run on the thin client PCs (or those devices that are running an image of the OS via virtualization technology). Hence, the chances of malware infections are reduced.
Hence, VDI can help your company reduce the IT costs by shifting from locally-based PCs to cloud-based desktops that can be used or ‘rented’ depending on your business’s requirements.
Why NOT Consider a VDI?
As is the case with any technology, potential benefits are always shipped with potential limitations as well. Some of the limitations of virtual desktops (VD) have been listed below:
- Although the chances of this happening are rare, if the server that hosts the virtual desktops is impacted for any reason whatsoever, all the devices running the virtual desktops (VD) will be affected.
- If you have employees or users in the company who run multiple sets of applications, you would need a new image for each employee running a separate set software. This is akin to buying new physical PCs.
- Virtual desktops run on servers that must be paid for by the company; the initial capital outlay for a server might be too much in comparison to physical PCs which can be purchased in steps or batches as the business grows.
- When physical PCs are affected by malware, they may or may not spread to other physical PCs. However, if the server that houses virtual desktops is infected for any reason, that infection will most likely spread to infect all the computers that run OS images housed in that server. If this happens, a business could potentially become severely handicapped. This can be solved with the help of non-persistent virtual desktops (VD) that tend to reset themselves following every session of use.
As Citrix has a cleaner approach to implement a VDI, it is always simple and hassle-free to use Xendesktops over regular virtual desktops.
Apps4Rent offers virtual desktops running on Windows Server 2019, as well as XenDesktop which uses the Citrix technology. If you are thinking of shifting to virtual desktop infrastructure – Citrix or VDIs – feel free to contact our virtualization experts today!