Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktops (WVD) or Citrix – The Big Question answered!


Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktops (WVD) has been making a lot of waves in the EUC industry ever since it was announced by Microsoft in September 2018.

Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a desktop and application virtualization solution that runs from Microsoft Azure. Unlike, Microsoft’s previous foray into the application and desktop virtualization markets in the past with Microsoft RemoteApps which didn’t take off quite well, this time I believe they have a compelling product in their hands.

WVD provides an impressive list of things to the companies who want to adopt it. The important benefits are quoted below.

  • Set up a multi-session Windows 10 deployment that delivers a full Windows 10 with scalability
  • Virtualize Office 365 ProPlus and optimize it to run in multi-user virtual scenarios
  • Provide Windows 7 virtual desktops with free Extended Security Updates – This is big for a lot of companies around the world who aren’t ready to migrate to Windows 10 yet.
  • Bring your existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Windows Server desktops and apps to any computer
  • Virtualize both desktops and apps
  • Manage Windows 10, Windows Server, and Windows 7 desktops and apps with a unified management experience

WVD Requirements

Licensing

Below are the licensing requirements for running WVD in Azure.

Infrastructure Requirements

Your infrastructure should meet the following requirements to support Windows Virtual Desktop:

  • An Azure Active Directory
  • A Windows Server Active Directory in sync with Azure Active Directory. You can configure this with one of the following:
    • Azure AD Connect (for hybrid organizations)
    • Azure AD Domain Services (for hybrid or cloud organizations)
  • An Azure subscription that contains a virtual network that either contains or is connected to the Windows Server Active Directory

Citrix Value-Add for WVD

So, what is Citrix doing here and how does Citrix add value to the WVD offering? WVD by itself is a perfect fit for a lot of businesses out there, mostly the start-ups and SMBs. What if we combine WVD with Citrix? That’s a deadly combo right there. Citrix could take Microsoft’s WVD offering to the next level by wrapping a management layer around it, offering flexibility, choice, cost optimization and enhanced security.

The enhancements that Citrix provide to WVD offering is best depicted in the picture below (courtesy of Citrix).

  1. Citrix has developed special optimization packs for Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business which makes a world of difference, if businesses want to run these collaboration tools in a virtualized infrastructure. Without the optimization packs, it’s virtually impossible to deliver good user experience with Teams and Skype for Business when using Audio, Video and Screen Sharing. Running single-session VDI workloads still won’t cut it either.
  2. Hybrid Cloud Model – WVD would only lets you run your multi-session Win 10 workloads in Azure. Citrix could further compliment that approach to run your traditional RDSH workload wherever you would like – on-prem, Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud or on HCI solutions such as Nutanix. Customers can combine WVD with RDSH workloads and manage them via a single console.
  3. Use Citrix HDX which is the best of the breed in remoting protocols.
  4. Citrix Machine Creation Services (MCS) lets rapid creation of virtual machines with minimal infrastructure utilizing the hypervisor APIs.
  5. AutoScale – Customers could quickly ramp up and down workloads on-demand. These days, customers have an option of doing vertical load balancing which brokers user load/sessions to a single machine until a desired level is reached after which the connection gets routed to the next workload until it gets fully loaded. This is so much useful in cost optimization and reduces the overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by reducing the numbers of extra servers used.
  6. Advanced Monitoring – Citrix has its own repertoire of monitoring tools on top of Microsoft’s Azure-based monitoring.
  7. App Layering – Citrix App Layering radically reduces the time it takes to manage Windows applications and images. It separates the management of your OS and apps from your infrastructure. You can install each app and OS patch once, update the associated templates, and redeploy your images.
  8. App Protection is an add-on feature that provides enhanced security when using Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops published resources.
  9. Session Recording allows you to record the on-screen activity of any user session hosted on a VDA for Server OS or Desktop OS, over any type of connection, subject to corporate policy and regulatory compliance. Session Recording records, catalogs, and archives sessions for retrieval and playback.
  10. Citrix Analytics – AI driven performance and security analytics to businesses that deploys Virtual apps and desktops service.
  11. Citrix SD-WAN – Citrix SD-WAN is a next-generation WAN Edge solution that simplifies digital transformation for enterprises. It offers comprehensive security, the best application experience for SaaS, cloud, and virtual apps and desktops.
  12. With Citrix and WVD combo, customers can bring the multi-factor authentication vendor of their choice such as Okta, OAuth-based authentication, RADIUS-based multi-factor auth and so on.

Let’s Bust a Myth

This may come as a surprise for many of you who are working in the EUC space. A lot of the folks in the industry are thinking that in order to use WVD, you will need to buy Citrix Managed Desktops which is new product offering from Citrix and that is the only offering entitled to use WVD. That isn’t true at all.

You could use a plethora of the following services from Citrix and enjoy the full benefits and simplicity that WVD has to offer. In summary, if you are an existing Citrix Cloud customer that utilizes any of the below services from Citrix, you are entitled to WVD as well.

Conclusion

Let’s conclude this. Citrix’s offering isn’t really trying to compete with Microsoft’s WVD, but rather they are complementing each other by providing more choices to the customers who want to run their VDI and RDSH workloads in the cloud. Isn’t it great to have choices in life? 🙂

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