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XenDesktop Replaces View in ESX Shop

To this point in its nascent life, desktop virtualization has not been known as a best-of-breed technology. It's been largely a case of market leaders VMware and Citrix sticking to their own guns with View 4 and XenDesktop 4, respectively. That's why an e-mail I received from a XenDesktop user describing a successful collaboration between XenDesktop and ESX caught my eye.

According to this anonymous reader -- I'll call him Joe -- about a year ago his company, which is a VMware shop, was considering two desktop virtualization pilots, one with View and one with XenDesktop. Rather than possibly ending up with a vendor finger-pointing match between VMware and Citrix, however, the company decided to stick with its VMware guns, and implemented View in their ESX environment.

It didn't turn out very well.

"View was fine until the user tried to get access to things across a WAN," Joe reports, adding, "It was also hard to go to Web sites. It turned out to be not a good user experience." Seeing how achieving a good user experience has been the central thrust of desktop virtualization to date, this outcome is obviously something of a black eye for VMware.

Joe also says that Citrix's ICA protocol, which is now part of its HDX high-definition technology, was better with color, which allows his company to provide 24-bit color. Intranet users also enjoy the ability to scroll up and down documents smoothly without the hesitations they had noticed with View. According to Joe, HDX was "hands-down better" in this scrolling process, which combined with its enhanced color capabilities created the kind of desktop performance users have come to expect.

Not that Citrix was problem-free. Noting the difficulty of dealing with user profiles in virtualized desktop environments, Joe says Citrix User Profile Manager made changes it didn't save, and then Citrix blamed VMware. As it turned out, the situation was a joint Citrix-Microsoft problem.

Going forward, Joe says his company is looking to virtualize its XenApp server farm. Toward that goal, they will consider using XenServer (which is optimized for XenApp), vSphere (which Joe says has reported improved performance with XenApp servers) and Hyper-V.

Bottom line: Joe prefers XenDesktop over View not just because of View's WAN woes, but because XenDesktop is "just easier to manage," e.g. updating disks is a lot easier.

He concludes: "From a user perspective, Citrix has been doing this for 20 years, providing virtualization through XenApp. They do a very good job of presenting to the end user and ultimately that's what we work for; we've got to keep the user happy."

Question: Would your company mix and match desktop virtualization technologies?

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 04/15/2010 at 12:48 PM


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