What is most valuable?
Citrix XenDesktop is a great solution for VDI or virtual desktop environments. Its most valuable features to me are:
- Pretty good management: You can manage a full environment for VDI, you have full control of what your users do, what they can or can't install and what resources your users can use.
- Great performance: Of course, it depends on hardware and the hypervisor (Citrix XenServer and VMWare vSphere are the best). It provides great performance with NVIDIA GPU cards.
- Great performance on low bandwidth links: Citrix was born when I still used a phone modem with 33.5 Kbps, so Citrix created the ICA protocol that provides great performance when you use low links.
- Easy install: With a little bit of understanding, for a standard configuration, if you have a little knowledge of Citrix XenDesktop, you can implement a solution in a few days.
How has it helped my organization?
Mobility! You can access your virtual desktop with all your applications everywhere; with a smartphone, laptop, thin client and so on.
What needs improvement?
I would like to see the following improvements:
- Better monitoring tools included in the enterprise editions: At the moment, if you want better monitoring, you need to buy a third license.
- Linux virtual desktop: We have been waiting more than five years for it!
- Compatibility with public clouds: Today, Citrix doesn't have the best position with public clouds. I work for IBM and we have SoftLayer public cloud, and we want to offer DaaS (Desktop as a Service) to the public. Citrix is a great opportunity for us, but Citrix has to “speak” SoftLayer API language. Secondly, Citrix should have a public cloud offering with a license that final users can afford and not just an annual license.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have used this solution for at least nine years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Citrix XenDesktop can be very stable and has great scalability if a certified Citrix architect designs it. Many problems that I've seen in the past with clients were related to bad design. Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp have great stability if you take the correct path.
How are customer service and technical support?
Citrix is very good with this, if you pay your maintenance every year. :P
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I previously used the VMWare solution. It works great but only when you use LAN (at least 1 Gbps if you have many users), but in a WAN environment, I really don't like the lags and delays with that solution.
How was the initial setup?
If you have a little knowledge about Citrix and what a VDI environment means, initial setup is not complex. If you want to do a good job, you must be prepared to know:
- Microsoft Windows Server (2008 R2 or 2012 R2)
- Microsoft Windows Desktop (Windows 7, 8.1 or 10)
- Active Directory
- Security, local policies, etc.
- Firewalls (local and for internet)
- Citrix NetScaler Gateway
- And so on!
What about the implementation team?
I have a lot of experience with third-party consultants and of course Citrix vendors. I have Citrix Architect Certification, so I have implemented my own solutions, but for big projects, it's much better to count on Citrix itself.
What was our ROI?
It's very difficult to evaluate this because if you have a low number of users, it's much better to buy new PC's or low-resource laptops than use VDI. For many environments, it's much better to use Citrix XenApp with published applications and use a shared desktop as opposed to using XenDesktop.
If you have at least 1,000 users or use GPU or high-resource-consuming applications, Citrix XenDesktop is the best solution, but you won't see ROI for at least three years.
What other advice do I have?
Many of my clients are looking for a DaaS with IBM SoftLayer.