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Citrix XenDesktop 5: Some Questions!

Citrix XenDesktop 5 is arguably the most powerful desktop virtualization solution on the market today. Compared to its predecessor, XenDesktop 4, it has some fantastic enhancements. I'm a big fan of the product, but by the same token I have many questions on why the product was released with some important features completely missing.

Where is XenDesktop Setup Wizard? When Citrix introduced XenDesktop 5, I was looking forward to seeing how much more tightly integrated Provisioning Services was with XenDesktop. Instead, I noticed that Citrix sort of brushed off Provisioning Services in favor of Machine Creation Services. Really? You ignored the integration of the most powerful technology in XenDesktop in favor of MCS? This is apparent because not only did Citrix not integrate XenDesktop Setup Wizard into the Desktop Studio console, they eliminated it altogether. How difficult would it be to integrate it into Desktop Studio? Should be very simple and perfect, while creating a catalog if I choose Streaming, it goes through the initial wizard and establishes all the connections and baselines. After that it should be simple to create VMs. It would have been perfect. Why in the world would you remove this wizard?

Today, when I want to use PVS with XD5, it is literally a manual process. Actually a better workaround would be to build a XD4 controller, run XenDesktop Setup Wizard, create all your VMs and then move them to XD5. That or create a script. Why do I need to waste my time writing a script and validating it, maybe it works and maybe not etc... The tool was there. Now I hear that the PVS team is releasing the tool soon. Very disappointed that this was not integrated from the get-go.

Where is the Active Directory Integration Tool? Here's another example of a very handy tool that was in XD4 that completely disappeared in XD5. Instead they want us to use Power Shell. I think the effect of the open source acquisition of XenSource is taking its toll on Citrix--so many features are now command-line-based. While I don't mind command line, why in the world would this not be under the properties of the Controller in Desktop Studio? Why do I have to search for it and run commands and figure out proper syntax? Complete waste of time and increased, unnecessary complexity.

Where is the Logoff Behavior? This one is my favorite. It was sitting in the GUI, happy and minding its own business. Then, someone intentionally said, let's make it a command line instead; we don't have enough command line stuff and this will make us geeky. Come on Citrix, why move this? It was there already; what is the benefit? This feature was useful when building an environment and running tests. You did not want VMs to reboot every time a user logged off.

In the final analysis, XenDesktop 5 is a major and very welcome improvement to XenDesktop 4; its features, functionality and performance are impressive. However, I urge Citrix to address the concerns above and to not sideline Provisioning Services. This is the heart of XenDesktop and its star feature. Machine Creation Services is a nice-to-have but cannot scale or perform anywhere near what PVS can.

My other wish to Citrix is to not integrate PVS into XenServer, thereby making it proprietary to the hypervisor. The power that Citrix holds today is that it is hypervisor-agnostic. It should keep it that way--that is a position of power and Citrix shouldn't give it up.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 01/20/2011 at 12:49 PM


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