So this week has been full of news in the EUC space and in this blog post, I will touch on the subject of Microsoft Virtual Desktop (WVD) vs Citrix Cloud. As you will see later on this isn’t actually a one vs another but more a what do you get with WVD and what can Citrix Cloud do on top of that.
Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop
The hottest news is, of course, the WVD that was announced Thursday this week. WVD will bring multiuser Windows 10 to the Azure cloud and only to the Azure cloud. I think many of us consultants and architects want to get Windows 10 multiuser to the on-prem environments too, but that may or may not happen in the future, so far the statement is that it will be Azure only.
So let’s talk about what you are getting with WVD. First of WVD is not only Windows 10 multiuser, but it is also a control plane where you can provision Windows 10 multi-user, Windows 10 single session, Windows 7 single session, Windows Server 2012 R2 and newer server OS. So this actually means that WVD is a cloud version of remote desktop services that now have a new OS that it will be supporting if you heard about RDMi before that is the new version of that in my opinion.
If we zoom into the new part in this solution it is, of course, the Windows 10 multiuser OS that is now running in Azure. The great thing about this new OS is that software vendors can now focus their development on one version of Windows and it should work in both Windows 10 single user and Windows 10 multiuser (This is still something that needs to be proven). Previously any multi-user environment on Windows would be running a server OS and even though they are quite similar there have been issues with getting some pieces of software to work on the server OS that is working just fine on the desktop OS. As a long time Citrix consultant this is something I am looking so much forward to testing out because it will remove some headaches from new deployments for sure.
Another subject to the new Win10 multi-user OS is that it will be running FSLogix technology for the profiles and other features that FSLogix provides, this is going to be a huge benefit for any Office365 customer and that is why Microsoft has made the FSLogix technology free for most of the Office365 customers and any RDS customer. The idea behind the “free” software is of course that it will make the transition from the current environment to WVD a lot smoother. Since WVD is hosting in Azure Microsoft also created a backend connection to the Office365 locations so that any download and access to files in OneDrive and Outlook will be blazing fast. FSLogix will ensure that files you use the most are cached in the profile, but when you do need to fetch a file from OneDrive that isn’t in your cache it will be downloaded very fast. If we think about that last statement for a bit, will it then even be necessary to cache any OneDrive files?? Let’s see how the feeling is when this is tested in the real world.
To see the user experience and some information about Microsoft WVD have a look at this video
Now as I stated in the intro to this article, Citrix Cloud will be something you can use on top of Microsoft WVD. Citrix brings their best in class remoting protocol HDX and the best in class workspace experience where users can go to a single website or application to start any application they desire. In the Citrix workspace, you can have remote desktop applications like the WVD desktop but you can also have SaaS applications like SalesForce or Concur. For the users, this makes life easier since they only need to go to one place to access any work application they need and they can even customize the workspace so put in their favorites and see recently used files. This workspace experience will be extended even more this year with the integration of Sapho which Citrix bought last year.
To see the logon experience when using Citrix Cloud to access Microsoft WVD look at the video below.
So Microsoft WVD is not killing Citrix as a remote desktop (application) vendor, but instead, Microsoft is providing a new Windows OS that Citrix can leverage to provide their customers with the best workspace experience. I can see a lot of options with this setup and I am really looking forward to digging into these new options for Citrix and Microsoft. At the time of this writing I am actually deploying WVD into my Azure account to get some hands-on experience with the whole setup process, and if all goes well I will add it to my Citrix Cloud account as well.