Citrix Evaluation Licenses – PITA

As part of one of our Citrix projects, we are helping out a customer with a brand new XenApp 6.5/XenDesktop 5.6 deployment. For the pilot we do not intend to run more than 20-30 users so the typical Citrix evaluation license should do the trick. These are usually good for 90-days/99-users what in most cases is all you need to see how things work, how they perform and so on.

My initial thought was to go on the Citrix website and grab evaluation licenses. Simple, correct? Well not that simple as it turned out. The Citrix XenApp license, not a problem at all. You simply select you want to do-it-yourself and after entering some information you do get a license key that you can fulfil on MyCitrix so you end up with your .LIC file. Perfect.

Problem is for XenDesktop it is not like that for some unknown reason and it should be. After you select the DIY route, first it assumes you will use the Express version (so you get 10-users). Once you enter all the info you see the following screen:

Licensing Error 1

As you can see on the right there is indeed a “Try XenDesktop Platinum Edition” link and I though that would be all I needed. So there I clicked…

Licensing Error 2

So what do we get? Oh, a 404 error. The page is nowhere to be found and you cannot get your XenDesktop Platinum trial license. Grrrrr.

Extremely annoying and a shame that for a flagship product for Citrix like XenDesktop, there is no damn anyone at least testing the stupid website to make sure potential customers can at least get a trial license.

And please do not give me the bullshit that all they need is to contact a reseller.

CR

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Is VMWare View really easier?

Sorry Brian and Gabe but I must disagree about this. In the past two weeks we have been working on getting our demo environment up and running (so you can all see what exactly packet loss does with VDI/SBC) and we will be showing it live at Synergy to interested parties, in our suite at the Marriot.

As I still think overcommitment when properly used is a powerful feature to have and the fact that XenServer 5.6 is in beta, we setup our virtualization backend with VMWare ESXi and I still must say I really like it. I did not have much exposure to XenServer and Hyper-V so I cannot comment how they compare to ESXi but again, for what we need ESXi does the job beautifully and it is indeed pretty straight forward to get going.

So back to the VDI part, we asked one of our technical guys to setup XenDesktop and VMWare View, based on the ‘instructions’ I gave him (basically download the ISOs and follow the guides) and off he went.

As I do have my own XenDesktop environment at home (on ESXi as you remember from the saga I reported here) I was very familiar with it and do remember having no issues installing it and more than that, being extremely easy and simple to do. Keep in mind this is the free 10-user version so there is no Provisioning Server, etc.

Today I sat down with Matt (our techie) to go through the environment and to wrap it up by setting up a 2008 R2 RDS SH with XenApp 6. As we have been exchanging emails to get VMWare View going, I knew it was not being that breeze Gabe/Brian mentioned. So after checking what we had to go through, I have no idea why they mentioned VMWare View being ‘easier’ to setup. IMHO (and in Matt’s opinion as well) XenDesktop 4 is much, we mean, MUCH easier to setup. VMWare View is confusing to say the least, even for someone very used to a single ESXi server environment.

How are they affected by packet loss? Well that is what I am working on right now. The same way Ruben wrote the ‘VDI Storage Deep Impact’  I am working on getting the real facts on how latency/loss affect ICA, RDP and PCoIP. No marketing BS, just straight facts. As soon as the whitepaper is ready it will be posted here for sure.

Resuming this post: we found XenDesktop 4 much easier to setup for SMALL ENVIRONMENTS (what means Provisioning Services/View Composer are NOT in use, that you do not have a VMWare Guru/Employee sitting on your side, etc). Does it mean Brian/Gabe are wrong and we are right? No. It means you should take any comments, from anyone, Brian and myself included, with a grain of salt. Do not trust us gentlemen. 🙂 Go try them for yourself and let us know what you think.

As you can see I do like VMWare and do think they have a great virtualization platform (main reason to have ESX/ESXi all over the companies I manage/own/work for) but View is far from being a breeze to setup.

CR

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XenDesktop 4 on ESXi. Final chapter on this saga.

As you guys do remember, a while ago I posted about my experience on trying to get Citrix XenDesktop 4 working on my VMWare ESXi environment. You can read the post that started this soap opera here and an update on what happened next here.

First of all I must say that post started quite a discussion and more than that, it is the #1 search that is now leading readers to my blog, especially because most people think that as a Citrix CTP, I am not supposed to post things like that.

It is quite the opposite actually. Of course when I started that thread, Citrix immediately contacted me but not really because I did it. They contacted me to understand how they failed on not supporting me or not getting me answers for all the issues I had at the time and promptly started working with me very closely to get that environment up and running. And in the end I must say, it DOES work and DOES work as expected.

The outcome from this post that started it all is this: Citrix today announced they are OFFICIALLYsupporting VMWare ESXi as a host solution for their Citrix XenDesktop product! You can read their official statement here: CTX124952.

Of course there are certain features regarding the integration with the Hypervisor that will not work (Pool and Power Management ones). For a small environment, with let’s say 5 to 10 users in a company, this is in my opinion, great news. It is an easy way to dip your toes into the VDI world at pretty much no cost. Build a small server running ESXi (free, or use the paid version that is on sale at $495 until June, 15th I think) and create your XP/Windows 7 VMs on it for your users. Again, for a small shop I do see this as a great solution. Pretty much all you need is there, including a Web Interface, Gateway, etc. Unbelievable value at no cost. And if down the road you do feel you need the features available on the paid versions, it is not hard at all to upgrade.

And technically, what fixed the issues I was having is all that is described on the second post on this thread ANDa ‘power’ setting on Windows 7. Apparently by default it will go into ‘Standby’ after a couple minutes. Once I changed all power settings not to turn anything off at all ever, the problem was resolved. I can now consistently logon to the Web Interface and get to my XenDesktop 4 Desktop.

So resuming: XenDesktop 4 DOESwork with VMWare ESXi ANDit is now fully supported by Citrix, thanks to your friendly neighbor CTP here. 🙂

By the way, it works beautifully.

CR

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Updates on my XenDesktop 4 on ESXi environment.

I think I owe you, readers, an update on what is going on with my XenDesktop 4 environment and where we stand at.

First of all, after reading the article Bridget Botelho wrote today, I do have a couple comments. I did have (and still have some) issues with my XenDesktop 4 deployment on VMWare ESXi. After discussing the issues with Citrix, note this is not a supported solution so now I do have a formal answer from them and again it is: ESXi is NOT supported. This does not mean it does not work. It just means they have not tested it or gave the same level of attention as for the full blown ESX or Microsoft’s Hyper-V.

My feedback on ESXi is, it does work and I do think this would be an awesome solution for small companies and a great way for Citrix to introduce XenDesktop to these small VMWare customers (for the small shops, I said many times memory overcommitment is indeed a great feature to have and as of today XenServer does not support it – I am all for testing XenServer once that is supported and recommending it to the small guys).

The issues I pointed out on my previous post, I have discussed with Citrix this week and they have been very helpful on determining the culprit. The first one, the video driver issue, is documented on CTX123952 as Calvin Hsu from Citrix pointed out and that was exactly what shanekleinert sent my way. That fixed it. My suggestion to Citrix is let’s leverage the power of Twitter and Blogging tools and make sure something this big that has the potential to affect tons of users gets posted everywhere ASAP, especially considering it has a very simple fix.

In terms of complexity to get a XenDesktop 4 environment going I must disagree with the feedback given on Bridget’s article. If you are used to Citrix products, it is very straight forward and actually extremely simple to get it up and running. If you are not familiar well then it is like any other unfamiliar technology/product: there is a learning curve for sure. Big or small I cannot comment as again, I am very versed on Citrix. But honestly, for a newcomer, I cannot see XenDesktop 4 as rocket science. It is WAY simpler than Microsoft’s VDI offering.

Back to the issues and where we stand at:
– The video one is fixed as per my comments above.
– There was some weird ‘hanging’ issue (the VM would seem locked up) and another one where I had to click multiple times on the ‘connect’ button to get to the VM. Once I upgraded the Mac OS X client to 11.1 (I was on 11.0) these issues are gone. So make sure you are on the latest client (tested with Windows 7 PCs as well and it is working good).
– The only one remaining is the major one and again, Citrix is on top of that trying to find the culprit. The problem, in case you are not aware, is the connection to the VM fails once I login to the Web Interface. If I then go to the vSphere client and launch the VM console and move the mouse around to somehow ‘wake up’ the VM, the connection then works just fine from the Web Interface. If I use it and logoff and try to login again, it works. But if I logoff and do not touch the VM for a while, it goes into this ‘standby’ mode. The vSphere console shows the VM barely using any resources when that happens. I played a little bit with the Power options on Windows 7 (as that could be the issue) but so far it seems the same. The one test I need to do is to try RDP first to see if it connects. If it does there is probably something going on between the VM and the DDC. To be determined.

So after using it for a couple weeks now, testing all sorts of apps and streaming video, on a heavily used ESXi host, this is what I have to say about XenDesktop 4: yes, I do have now one single issue that I am sure will be solved (I do appreciate Citrix’s help considering I am using an unsupported platform) and that issue aside, it works extremely well on both LAN and WAN and as Shawn Bass mentioned in one of his tweets, WAN is king for sure and to me that is the main reason why I think XenDesktop, as of today, is ahead of VMWare View.

Once my final issue is solved I will be a happy camper and for sure will be posting here the final chapter of this soap opera.

Stay tuned.

CR

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XenDesktop 4. Not perfect.

I know tons of people will email me or comment saying I am a prick, an idiot and things along these lines. But after using Citrix XenDesktop 4 for a while, I have to give some feedback to tons of people that are probably trying the product the same way I am. That means the small shop willing to go for the free 10 licenses for XenDesktop 4.

First of all some background information here. I have been working with Citrix products for at least 15 years now. Yes, that long. I have seen it all. The good, the bad, the ugly. Citrix is indeed a company capable of great feats and at the same time, bottom crap shit. So I can safely say I am pretty versed on Citrix and its product line up.

On the virtualization frontend, even though I am no VMWare vExpert I have been using their stuff since VMWare Workstation 1.0. Used GSX, ESX, VMWare Server, VMWare Fusion, VMWare Player and so on. Deployed some decent size virtualization environments too (200+ servers). Pretty versed on it and decent knowledge on the underlying components.

Resuming: I am not as stupid as it looks like.

So what have I been trying to achieve? Very simple (and cheap). At home I have a Dell PowerEdge T105 box with 8GB RAM and 2x500GB disks (RAID 1) with dual NICs, connected to a Dell PowerConnect 2824 switch. The T105 runs ESXi 4.X (free version) and has always worked fine. Great product for sure. And yes, I do use memory overcommitment and for my needs it is simply perfect, with no performance issues whatsoever. Before you ask, yes, that is the main reason why a Citrix CTP decided to use VMWare ESXi instead of XenServer. The lack of overcommitment, for ME, is a show stopper. I wrote more about the topic here.

Back to the topic, as we are indeed a small shop, this little guy runs all for us. 2008 DC, 2008 Web, 2008 with Exchange 2007 plus two XP VMs. Actually this post you are reading is hosted on my 2008 Web Server, running under this ESXi box.

So I decided to test something very simple. As I got a freebie last year at BriForum (remember, I am the current champion of the Geek Out show that happens every BriForum) from Wyse (a Windows XPe terminal, notebook form factor) I decided to give it a try as a thin client for a XenDesktop 4 solution (by the way I had SEVERAL issues with the stupid Wyse X90 – probably will post about these later, so buyer, BE AWARE).

Got the free XenDesktop 4 license (good for 10 users) and followed the whole installation guide. Setup another VM on my ESXi (2003 Server with IIS, etc, part of my 2008 AD) and also setup a Windows 7 VM (1GB RAM). The setup could be easier and certain things make no sense whatsoever. But I somehow expected that to be the case coming from Citrix (they are a bunch of smart people that sometimes find some very weird and cumbersome ways of doing things).

Once I had all up and running I faced the first problem: the Windows 7 VM would simply hang after logging in from the DDC Web Interface. Looking at the ESXi console I could see the VM there, up and running but I would not be able to login (when it was shown as available – more on that later). After ranting a little bit on Twitter someone facing the same issue mentioned a problem with the video driver and a possible workaround. Tried that and indeed that issue was fixed.

Great so I thought.

Not too fast there fellas. Once that was fixed now I had to deal with a more serious issue. When I login to the DDC WI, it tries to start my Windows 7 VM but fails and throws an error. I then go to the vSphere console and I can see the VM all good there and I can even logon to it. Once I do that, almost like waking it up from some sort of ‘standby’ then the web interface/DDC works!

I discussed the issue with several other people running a similar setup (small shop with free ESXi) and they all face some sort of issue with XenDesktop 4. Apparently if you use Windows XP, what I have not tried, it works. But that I refuse to do as I left XP for good and more than that, as my customers are all considering a similar Windows 7 approach I must stay with the latest and greatest technology. So I do not care if it works with XP. Citrix does say Windows 7 is supported and I cannot see anywhere saying the free ESXi is not supported as Mr. Joe Shonk mentioned (so I assume it is for this unmanaged desktops case).

The bottom line for me is simple. When it works, XenDesktop 4 is a great product. But there are still issues not only at the core but on other components from what I hear (Provisioning Server issues, XenServer reliability problems and so on) and what amazes me is some of these, like the first one I had, apparently are known issues. If that is the case why not adding a readme file that explains these and the workarounds? Or why not fixing that crap?

I do see the power of XenDesktop and where it can take VDI once it is integrated with XenClient. But for now, Citrix, please let me know what needs to get done to make this work. I am sure several small businesses would jump into the VDI bandwagon with the free 10 licenses everyone can get for XenDesktop 4 but it must work.

If I find a solution or if Citrix decides to take a look at my problem I will let you guys know.

If I disappear after this post you know Citrix got me. For good.

CR

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Citrix and the iPad

No matter how much I try not to write about the iPad, there are several crazy things I have been reading lately about the Jesus Tablet and many have the word Citrix cruising along.

For some people, for unknown reasons, the iPad is seen as the tablet God himself handed out to Moses, or Steve Jobs for that matter. The solution for all our problems and the device that will bring VDI to the masses.

Bullcrap.

And I will explain why and complain about Citrix later.

Screen. It is awesome to see a bigger screen in a device that can be potentially used as some sort of thin client. There are a couple issues there. The resolution is fixed at 1024×768 and some apps, in this day and age, refuse to work on less than higher resolutions. Two options: you either keep moving around the screen (painful) or you scale the resolution down to match the native display one (what technically is bad and if you know anything about video you know the reasons why). So, yes, better than the iPhone but still not that incredible. But I could live with that.

Keyboard. Here is where the big problems start. The on-screen keyboard may be great for a quick ‘checking my email’ thing but to use that to reply to long emails or to write a document, that is just unbearable. Fanboys will say go and get an external keyboard! Yes, great idea. Now I need to carry a freaking iPad PLUS a keyboard. Awesome.

Mouse. No word so far if a bluetooth one is supported. As of today, based on what we know, no support. Even if it is added at a later date, great, another device to carry with the iPad and the keyboard above.

Ports. Where are the USB ports so I can plug headsets, webcams, scanners, etc (remember, this is the Moses’s tablet that will bring VDI to the masses as per God’s predictions)? Yes, there are none but for sure you will be able to get a cable that costs $40 that will give you USB ports. Yay, another thing to carry with the keyboard, the mouse and the iPad itself.

Local OS. Sure the iPhone OS was revolutionary. For a phone. For a tablet, are you kidding me you are putting an OS that cannot even multitask on that? Not to mention that several things that make XenDesktop a decent thing, are NOT supported as the local OS cannot do shit about them. Examples? What about Flash redirection? Oh, did I mention that 9.7″ screen cannot even run Flash movies or access Flash websites? Not that I love Flash(it). But the reality is a huge percentage of the web relies on that (Citrix included – have you tried Citrix.com/tv on your iPhone/iPad? Yes, it does not work).

As I mentioned to Chris Fleck, who called me a Nay-Sayer on his blog, sure I can see certain vertical markets using it for several reasons. One is healthcare, where for doctors, using a Win32 app that has an interface designed for touch input, it would be perfect. Small, light, relatively cheap and able to run their Win32 apps that require no flash, no decent video performance and no physical keyboard/mouse. It could be the same case for insurance companies (although the lack of a camera is potentially a big show stopper), warehouses and so on.

The thing is all the above use cases mentioned above are NOT the ones that will bring VDI to the masses. So how can such device do that as several people in the industry are bragging now I have no crazy idea.

As a final note, what really pisses me off is to see Citrix spending all this time twittering/blogging/working on the iPhone/iPad receivers while IGNORING the bugs still there on BOTH Win32 and OS X clients, MUCH bigger markets when compared to all the iCrap stuff above (at least I think that is the case; correct me if I am wrong).

So Citrix, before you keep promoting all these savior, God sent devices, please fix what we, the lower class citizens, use every single day: the Windows and Mac OS X clients. Once you get that going, go nuts with your iPad plans to take over the VDI world.

Riding the ‘what is cool/on the spot’ wave for marketing purposes is not cool. VMWare at least is not doing that.

CR

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Patchworking and VDI.

I actually started writing this post a couple weeks ago but got sidetracked with other things and it just sat here on this blog with a title. So after reading Brian’s posts on why use and not use VDI, I decided to finalize this post. So here we go.

 A word on the title of this post, Patchworking, if you have no idea what it means (take a look at the formal definition on Wikipedia), is putting together small pieces of different fabrics into a larger design. Awesome stuff. For quilts and bed sheets.

Not for IT.

I remember another thread at Brian’s website where I posted a comment exactly about this issue that IMHO plagues VDI as of today. In order to get it working properly you need to rely on pieces (solutions) from several different vendors and that is where the problem begins. You may end up with a solution that runs Citrix XenDesktop that requires Windows Server 2003/2008 for its components, all these running on top of VMWare vSphere running on top of HP Blades connected to a Brocade SAN, all that tied into ILIO, vScaler and vDeDupe from Atlantis Computing. Sounds great and reliable, doesn’t it?

I see this type of solution as a house of cards. As soon as the first one falls, you are in for a great ride. Downhill. Spiraling. Imagine calling Microsoft to report an issue you are having with your virtualized Windows 7 that is using a virtual profile solution from RTOSoft (you can buy me a beer later Kevin) and that the actual VM image is based on a master clone and deltas handled by another product from vendor VDI-MILFs. I am almost certain Microsoft will hang up on your face. Right there at the spot.

Not to put you down on your VDI thoughts; in a way this is what happened in the TS/Citrix world 10 years ago. Remember the experience of calling vendor A and telling them you had their masterpieshit installed on Citrix? They would tell you nice things along the lines of ‘go screw yourself ok?’.

The point is, it took TS/Citrix almost a DECADE for God’s sake to become something we can consider ‘stable’. Note I am not using the words ‘rock solid’. TS and Citrix were not and probably will never be 100% reliable (or 95% for that matter). Remember people, we are talking Microsoft and Citrix here. Using Microsoft, Citrix and rock solid stability on the same phrase creates a paradox. Always keep that in mind.

So why would this be different with VDI? Brian thinks (I hope by now, he realizes his prophecy about VDI will fail) 2010 is the year VDI will take off and become the #1 priority for all IT departments. TS/Citrix took 10+ damn years to get to what it is today. Why VDI will be able to become an easy to deploy, cheap and stable solution in 2 years is beyond my comprehension. Call me dumb, stupid or anything else similar but I fail to see this happening now.

Will it get there? Sure it will. In 2010? No. More like 2020. 🙂

And as Jeroen nailed with his comment on the ‘Why use VDI’ thread, deploying the whole thing is complex to start with, even when using a single vendor (i.e. Citrix all the way or Microsoft all the way). After you start you realize several components are not there so you need to start sewing together all these pieces from other vendors. Now you got your patchwork.

I am not saying there is no place for VDI and that you guys all are nuts. No. I am just saying, like I have been doing with the whole UIA (User Installed Apps)/BYOPS (yes, I coined the term Bring Your Own Piece of Shit), that there are several hurdles and issues not only to get VDI going but to support it and many people in the industry, inebriated by the chance of putting their hands/making a career on a new, exciting technology, are simply not mentioning and/or ignoring them.

Not the case at this end. I see both sides of the coin. One is pretty and shiny. The other one…

So before you try to convince your boss to spend ten times more on a VDI solution (when compared to a real desktop one or to a 10+ year old mature solution like TS) just because you do need iTunes to run in a hosted environment and figured out it does not work on TS, hold on your horses. There is more to VDI than most vendors are willing to tell you.

You will thank me later.

CR

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VDI licensing in a Physical Desktop World.

I promise this is the last post on the subject. As you, I cannot stand talking about this anymore but I think I owe an explanation to the two readers of this lonely blog.

After all the comments and conversations I had with other CTPs, here is what I think about the licensing and to get there I will start with a real world example.

If you are a company now deploying 1,000 PCs to your users (let’s assume you have no PCs or that you are upgrading all these with new hardware), you are paying Microsoft, directly or indirectly, a license of Windows Whatever for each device you got, in this case, 1,000 PCs.

If you later enable RDP and allow your users to connect from home you pay nothing else. And if you have 3,000 users in three shifts (1,000 users working 8 hours shift for example), you are still buying 1,000 PCs that come with 1,000 OS licenses. So it is clear that on a physical desktop world the licensing is per device.

Considering that Citrix is really willing to compete head to head with the physical desktop world, why are they licensing XenDesktop on a per user basis if the real physical desktop world is licensed on a per device basis?

Yep, very good question. Let’s hope someone from Citrix reads this blog and is kind enough to give us an answer.

This would fix all the problems created for companies that were relying on the Concurrent User licensing model. Would that hurt their expected revenue? Maybe.

So Citrix people, where are you? We need answers. And fast ones.

CR

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Is XenDesktop the right tool for the job?

So after the storm announced yesterday, people all over the world started complaining about the new licensing that came out with XenDesktop 4. This also prompted a heated discussion within the CTP community, with some explaining why they were frustrated with such licensing changes.

For sure I can understand the issue for certain customers. For example, for some educational institutions with 25,000+ users but willing to deploy a VDI solution using XenDesktop 4 for only 1,000 people, what do they do? If it is licensed per user, how does this work now? Do they need to pay for 25,000+ licenses?

Using the old Concurrent User licensing, all they needed was 1,000 licenses. And that is where the discussion with the others CTP started from my standpoint. 🙂

I am posting here exactly what I told all the other CTPs. First of all I think Citrix wants to change the idea that XenDesktop is a remote access solution. They want to make the market aware XenDesktop is actually a desktop replacement solution, going head-to-head with what we call today ‘physical desktop’. In that sense, if you have 1000 PCs in your office and you want to go VDI you need 1000 hosted desktops. So if we do see XenDesktop as a replacement for the physical desktop, 1:1 licensing makes sense. And again, from a marketing perspective it makes sense if you want to get rid of the old stigma of being a ‘Remote Access’ solution.

If you have 10,000 users and you want to have only 100 connecting remotely to your hosted solution, it is clear to me you are really trying to deploy a remote access solution and for that, there is XenApp. Many, including my friend and fellow CTP Joe Shonk, argued XenDesktop brings simplicity to the table as you do not have to worry about your apps, what you do when using XenApp. Well my take on this is simple and I ask you to provide me feedback on this in the comments area.

As of today, at least for my customers (note I have been doing TS/Citrix since they were born as products, so at least 10 years), in 99% of the cases we were able to make the applications work. Sure, some we had to tweak but the bottom line is they worked. And as of today, with application virtualization, there is a chance you will get the ones that did not work, working. So the whole “XenDesktop is app friendly and XenApp is app hater” does not cut for me. Add to that the fact that several XenDesktop customers are using Citrix own app virtualization/streaming solution to package and deploy the apps so in this case, that exact same app could be used on XenApp, making it not better or worse than XenDesktop.

Even though using XenDesktop as a remote access solution works and works properly, I see this as using the wrong tool for the job in most cases. I do know I can load a web server on my iPhone but should I use it to then host my website? You get the idea.

I am aware in some very special cases XenApp may indeed not work and XenDesktop or similar alternatives would be the only way to go. If you are on that boat, good for you.

But for most cases, nope. XenApp delivers it. And it has concurrent licensing. 🙂

The good news is Citrix is listening and is dealing with such cases, people that are trying to use XenDesktop in weird ways (sorry I could not resist), on a case-by-case basis.

I also heard on the CTP program they are releasing a new version called XenRAS that is pretty much XenDesktop but tweaked to work as a RAS solution, only accepting dial-up connections and with concurrent licensing. Official announcement should come soon from Citrix.

Oh crap. That was under NDA.

CR

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Citrix XenDesktop 4. Many changes.

So today here I am sitting in a CTP only webinar about XenDesktop 4. It will be officially announced in 12 minutes so by the time you read this we are not under NDA anymore.

The major changes, many that I see as REALLY welcome are:

– Now licensed per user, not per concurrent user anymore.
– Trade up program with savings up to 80% for customers running XenApp. Valid until June, 2010.
– Reduced costs per user (starting at $75, then going to $225 and $350).
– Now you can run XenApp served apps not only on XenDesktop hosted desktops but anywhere. This is indeed a great move.

XenApp licensing does not change, still remaining as Concurrent User. The reason for XenDesktop moving to per user is reasonable I think. Citrix says when accessing XenDesktop it means the user will have access to his desktop 24/7 while on XenApp he accesses the apps on a needed basis, not necessarily 24/7 so concurrent user makes sense for XenApp but not XenDesktop.

On the HDX side, some of the new stuff:

– Support for VoIP and Webcams. On the Audio side several enhancements. Broad support for SoftPhones and a much better audio codec (three settings – high definition, Optimized for Speech and Low bandwith – amazingly, high definition uses only 96kps, way way less than the high setting we had on Presentation Server, remember that???). Webcams, for now on LAN (2 to 7 MBits used and latency is for sure killer).
– 3D Graphics support (some specific hardware/hosting requirements do apply – meaning you need a blade PC with specific requirements like CUDA enabled GPU, not working on a VM). The Client that supports the 3D stuff is still not combined with the other one so a specific client is required.
– Enhanced MultiMon support so you can now have that Mickey Mouse monitor arrangement working just fine on your hosted Desktop. Awesome.
– Enhanced Plug-and-Play. I heard about the ‘Bloomberg’ keyboard. First time for me. Living and learning I guess.
– Up to 30fps on server side rendering! Default is 24fps but a registry change allows you to bump it up.
– MediaFoundation support, now used on Windows Media Player on Windows Vista/7.
– HDX MediaStream for Flash. Animations, HD video, all the goodies. Access to local webcam/audio/microphone is supported.
– HDX IntelliCache with Branch Repeater Integration. In certain cases, where the content ends up on the client side, of course there is quite a reduction on bandwitdth (up to 25x). Nice improvement for sure in several cases but remember this does not mean everything will be greatly improved in terms of bandwidth. According to what Citrix showed us, much better than the PCoIP solution from Teradici.

It is great to see Citrix moving on this space and if XenClient comes to the picture (as you saw on Project Independence), this is really how I see the future for sure. Being able to run my Desktop, locally or hosted, from anywhere, anything.

For the first time in years I am excited about what Citrix has up on their sleeve. Impressive.

Cannot wait to download it and give it a try! And if I were VMWare I would be concerned as right now VMWare View seems VERY outdated, at least in my opinion. Others may not agree with me…

CR

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