Citrix XenDesktop is a dedicated software solution for configuring virtual environments. While virtualization can apply to several areas, including the virtualization of servers, storage, as well as networks, XenDesktop is specifically designed for the configuration of virtual desktops. However, this is often confused with a similar virtualization software solution, Citrix XenApp.

In this post, we will go over the basics of XenDesktop and how it differs from XenApp.

What Is Desktop Virtualization?

When we say “desktop,” we are referring to the operating environment of the OS or applications on the user’s client terminal. In a manner of speaking, this is the user’s workspace.

With that in mind, what do we mean by the “virtualization” of a desktop?

Earlier, we mentioned a few examples of virtualization. With server virtualization, for example, we can install virtualization software on a single hard drive, manage multiple configurations of virtual machines, operate multiple server instances with a single physical server, and ultimately increase resource efficiency. With storage virtualization, we can virtually integrate storage from multiple hard drives, thereby optimizing resources via the creation of one larger storage pool. This approach utilizes virtualization technology and a separation of virtual and physical configurations to realize greater resource efficiency, organization and flexibility.

Desktop virtualization is a slightly different concept. In desktop virtualization, desktop OS and applications are integrated on the server and executed; users access a desktop remotely via a network connection.   

This allows the user to access their desktop from anywhere on any device and from any network connection. Moreover, since only the screen is being transmitted and all data is left on the terminal, it has the additional benefit of security against information leaks and other risks.

“Thin clients” are a similar concept. In a virtualized desktop environment, one can connect to a local terminal and access their desktop with just a network connection, including thin client terminals. However, it is not necessary to utilize a thin client, as you can detach the work environment from the local environment using an ordinary PC, or a tablet device other than Windows. With such a wide range of terminal options available, users can choose the device that best suits the situation. From the administrator’s perspective, this eliminates the need to centrally manage the environments of traditionally physically-distributed client PCs, allowing for greater operational flexibility and more thorough management capabilities.