Virtual desktops or published apps. Which is right for you?

Virtual desktops or published apps. Which is right for you?

The Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop product line offers organizations multiple ways in which they can move to a virtual solution.  In it’s essence there are three options, virtual desktops (VDI), published applications, or published desktops.  In addition, an organization can use a combination of these three options to tailor the experience to their specific needs.

So which option is right for your organization?  Lets look further into each option.

  • Virtual Desktops (VDI)
    Virtual desktops are essentially what they sound like.  A virtual version of a traditional Windows 10 desktop or laptop computer.  A virtual desktop is created for each user and that user can customize that desktop to their needs.  The virtual desktop has the same advantages of other virtual options in that the desktop can run on for any device, anywhere, has increase security, reduces costs, simplifies management, and increases the efficiencies of your employees and support staff.

    The virtual desktop experience most closely resembles the physical desktop / laptop that your employees are probably using currently.  Other than changing the way the user initially logs in to the desktop the rest of the experience is almost identical.  

    Virtual desktops are primarily geared towards users who need dedicated computing power or are resistant to change and like the tradition Windows 10 desktop based look and feel.
  • Published Applications
    Published applications and the experience a users receives more closely resembles a tablet or smart phone environment.  Users are presented with a  screen of applications that they have permission to.  The users do not get a traditional desktop experience, they don’t see the desktop environment or any application that is not provided to them.  

    The published applications are installed on centralized servers and those applications are “shared” by all users who have access.  The sharing of applications relates to the hardware running those applications as well since each users does not have dedicated compute power assigned to them like a virtual desktop has. There are several advantages to published applications including decreased hardware costs since each user does not get dedicated processor and memory assigned to them.  In addition more users can operate off a single server, in fact 30 or more users can operate off the same server at the same time.  Depending on server hardware resources.

    Other than the lack of a desktop the applications look and perform the same way they do traditionally. Published applications are primarily geared towards users who don’t need a full desktop experience.  Another use case for published applications is for users or scenarios such as a kiosk or check-in desk that only need access to a single application.
  • Published Desktop

    Published desktops are a blending of virtual desktops and published applications.  The user is presented with a full desktop experience but that desktop is running on shared hardware similar to a published application.

    The biggest, noticeable difference for end users is that traditional published desktops are running Windows Server rather than Windows 10. The desktop will look slightly different than Windows 10 but will provide all the same functionality needed by an end users. 

    Published desktops are primarily geared towards users who need / want a traditional desktop experience but do not need the dedicated computer power of a virtual desktop.  It is also important to keep in mind that users do not have the option to customize the published desktops since they are “shared” by multiple users on the same server.  

One size does not fit all

Luckily Citrix realizes that one size does not fit all and any or all of the above situations can be available in the same environment.  Lets look at a couple of use cases to illustrate this.

  • Example 1
    Lets say your environment is a mix of power users and task workers.  In addition there is a kiosk in the lobby where guests can check in and print a name badge.  In this case you could provide virtual desktops to those power users that need the dedicated computer power and Windows 10 desktop they are familiar with.  The task workers could utilize a published desktop or published applications and the kiosk could be running a single published application for the guest check-ins, all from the same Citrix environment. 
  • Example 2
    In this example lets say you have a delivery company with a large number of delivery drivers who need access to the delivery manifest application while outside the office making their deliveries.  A published application accessible via a tablet or phone would be ideal for these users.  Your office staff on the other hand could utilize published for virtual desktops.
  • Example 3
    What about combining those options.  Published applications can be made available inside a virtual desktop for a blended environment.  This is especially useful for training labs, one-off applications, or a situation where an application is needed by some users who use virtual desktops while other users would work best off of a published application or desktop.   In this type of situation when a users logs into their virtual desktop, they would see the published applications as if they were installed locally even though those applications are installed on the shared hardware that is utilized by the published application users.  This type of situation makes it very easy to “add” applications to a virtual desktop that are only needed for a limited time, one off, etc. without having to modify the virtual desktop image.  This also helps to increase efficiency and consistency in application updates and versions since IT staff only have to update the application in a single location and all users get the updated version whether they are on a virtual desktop or just using the published application.

As you can see, Citrix Virtual Apps  and Desktops offers a several solutions that can be used independently or in any combination to tailor a virtual experience to meet the exact needs of your organization while allowing your users to work from anywhere from any device.