Citrix says XenDesktop 4 ‘a better experience’

With general availability for Citrix Systems Inc.’s XenDesktop 4 scheduled for Nov. 16 and VMware Inc.’s general availability of desktop virtualization rival View 4 set for Nov. 19, the competition is hard to ignore.

In an interview with Shane Schick earlier this week, VMware’s vice-president of enterprise desktop marketing Patrick Harr contrasted the company’s new version of PC over IP (PCoIP) remote display protocol from Teradici Corp. with Citrix’s ICA.

At a press event in Budapest, Citrix’s vice-president and general manager for XenDesktop Rah Dhingra argued that the company’s HDX technology “breaks the high-def user experience barrier.”

“When it comes to delivering a user experience across different kinds of applications — multimedia, real-time collaboration, applications that need to work across low-speed networks, high-latency networks — we have a much more proven solution,” said Dhingra.

Citrix’s HDX Adaptive Orchestration is unique in its ability to perform client-side rendering, said Dhingra. “No one else in the industry that I know has it,” he said.

When a virtual desktop is connecting to an application, it can make an intelligent decision as to whether it’s better to render it on the server or the client itself, he said.

VMware’s software-based PCoIP is brand new, Dhingra pointed out. “It’s actually not even shipping yet. It is unknown and unproven whether it is going to work,” he said.

Another difference is that Citrix doesn’t work only on a LAN, which is what PCoIP is going to, according to Dhingra. “We take 90 per cent less bandwidth compared to PCoIP. That’s a huge difference,” he said.

Using a 3D graphics application, for example, one user may consume up to 1MB per second with Citrix HDX, whereas it will consume 10MB per second with PCoIP, he said.

“That’s a very big difference,” said Dhingra. If an administrator had to roll out 10MB per second to 1,000 users, they would have to change the networking infrastructure to actually start to use PCoIP, he said.

Dhingra also noted a “big distinction” in the companies’ approaches to offline use. VMware has an experimental option for offline and Citrix announced it would deliver its client hypervisor for local VM-based desktops early next year, he said.

Citrix’s approach is that a desktop does not need to run in a VM in the data centre and only runs locally on a VM in the laptop, Dhingra explained. “You don’t need to have that desktop running on a VM in the data centre because it will actually be streamed to your laptop and be able to run without requiring that you to have it running on the back end,” he said.

Every time you run a virtual machine on a server you have to pay, he pointed out. “That’s a very big difference from an economics perspective, because every user will have to pay for an [VMware] ESX license,” he said.

Citrix gives XenServer away for free, he noted.

User experience for XenDesktop is also “far better than VM,” according to Dhingra.

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