Given the multitude of approaches available when it comes to creating a virtual desktop, there's little wonder that there is a lot of confusion surrounding the subject of desktop virtualization.
Citrix is looking to eliminate a lot of that confusion with a comprehensive repackaging of its XenDesktop offerings by giving customers six different desktop virtualization deployment options using a new FlexCast architecture. In addition, the new XenDesktop 4 release extends the company's HDX technology to support a broader array of rich PC applications. Built on top of Citrix's existing ICA terminal services protocol technology, HDX is intended to counter a PC-over-IP protocol that VMware backs as part of its virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) offering.
The different approaches to creating a virtual desktop include a shared, server-based virtual desktop typically provided using terminal services, a hosted virtual machine-based model known as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) , deployment of blade PCs in the data center, application streaming, and running virtual machine software on the local client.
Rather than requiring customers to opt for one approach, Citrix is seeking to provide a common management framework across all the major options. This approach means customers can choose what type of desktop virtualization approach they want based on the requirements of specific applications. For example, a standard set of applications don't need much customization, while a VDI approach adds more ability to support applications that need more personalization. The former approach, in most instances, is going to be able to effectively support a lot more users per server than a VDI system.
There's been an ongoing war of words over the definition of desktop virtualization, with VMware on one side, and Citrix and Microsoft on the other. To its credit, Citrix deserves some kudos here for eliminating much of the hyperbole on the subject by giving customers the option to deploy desktop virtualization as they see fit, as opposed to trying to make the decision for them.