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How to Get the Most Out of Citrix XenDesktop 5.5

Author: Paul Kushlan 16 April 2012 3,964 views No Comments
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Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is one of the most anticipated and talked about technologies in the past decade. The promise of a desktop with applications that you can connect to from anywhere, on any device, is very exciting for users of all types. The potential security of centralized data captivates the imagination of CIOs and Security Officers in almost all business sectors.

Citrix Systems (CTXS) sees the VDI market as a potential goldmine and has bet much of its future on XenDesktop, a product that is well positioned to capture the VDI space. This post describes five tips for getting the most out of your XenDesktop 5.5 deployment.

Infrastructure Planning and Architecture

As companies move towards VDI, they almost immediately realize that virtual desktops require resources in the data center, many more resources and infrastructure then a traditional desktop environment. In order to get the most out of XenDesktop they will need to answer the question of how to size this infrastructure. Network, Processing, and Storage are all part of the discussion, but how do you scale the environment? How much is required to support the number of VDIs you plan to deploy?

The answers to many of these questions will be unique for each organization, depending on user requirements, applications, and existing infrastructure. For example, most organizations underestimate or miscalculate the network requirements of virtual desktops. This is especially true of organizations that are familiar with XenApp.

Profile Management

No desktop management solution is complete without a good Profile Management design plan. Many customers believe they can take their existing desktop deployment model and just migrate that to a virtual infrastructure. In a traditional desktop/server model, the user’s profile settings and files are stored on the user’s desktop.

Although this might work fine in a physical desktop, in a virtual desktop it becomes problematic. Most virtual desktop deployments leverage a pool of desktops, and a user might be connected to the first available desktop in the pool. Without a Profile Management strategy, the user is presented with a “vanilla desktop” with none of the customizations or files the user needs to do his or her job.

Application Integration

To really get the most out of your XenDesktop Deployment you need to consider the applications. Without applications, all we have is a Start Menu, and we can’t get much work done with that. Corporate applications drive business, and they also drive virtualization projects. The mistake many companies make is to think that they will use traditional methods to deploy applications in their virtual desktops.

Optimize the Operating System for VDI

Once you have built your Master Image, the temptation is to install the required applications and immediately roll it out to your users. In a VDI deployment, there is still more to be done. Specifically, the desktop should be optimized for mass deployment. Optimized is a fairly general term and means different things to different people. In this case, we are talking about the fact that there are certain settings that are appropriate in a traditional desktop environment but which might not be in a VDI deployment. For example, we generally recommend turning off Auto Updates of the desktop and Antivirus since the image is usually in a pooled state and will reset back to its default upon reboot.

Defining Suitable Use Cases

To get the most out of a XenDesktop deployment a full understanding of the Citrix Flex Cast model is essential. VDI is only one option for deploying desktops and applications to end users. It is not necessarily the best option for all users.

A common mistake when deploying XenDesktop is to assume that all users require dedicated VDI desktops. VDI is the most expensive and resource-intensive in the Flexcast delivery model. Dedicated VDI is even more expensive than Pooled or Streamed Virtual Desktops. Other options such as Hosted Shared Desktops or Local Streamed Desktops might be a more cost-effective solution and a better choice for certain users groups.

By following the tips outlined above, your company can make the most of your XenDesktop 5.5 investment. Avoiding common pitfalls and leveraging all aspects of the technology will enable users to leverage the benefits of virtual desktops while keeping costs down and preserving the security requirements of the organization.

Related Posts
10 New Features for Citrix XenApp 6.5
Virtualization 101 — Major Virtualization Players

Related Courses
Citrix XenDesktop 5 Administration
Citrix Desktop Virtualization Fast Track

Excerpted from Global Knowledge white paper: Five Tips for Getting the Most Out of Citrix XenDesktop 5.5

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