Citrix Workspace Meets Windows Virtual Desktop: Everything You Need to Know About the New Platform

On March 21, 2019, at the Microsoft Ignite Tour in Amsterdam, Citrix joined forces with Microsoft to reveal an exciting new development: the public preview of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD).

This desktop and app-friendly virtualization service runs on the cloud, enabling remote users to access a multi-session Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus experience.

Microsoft announced the software back in September 2018, beginning a private preview. The conference marked the first time that public users could test it out firsthand.

What does this mean for those who already use Citrix for server, application and desktop virtualization? In short, it means enhanced capabilities as they’re able to leverage and extend Windows Virtual Desktop functionality within this tried-and-true platform.

Today, we’re sharing everything you need to know about this comprehensive platform, including the key role that Citrix’s partnership plays within it.

Ready to learn more? Let’s go!

What is Windows Virtual Desktop?

Built to run on Azure, Microsoft’s trademark cloud computing service, Windows Virtual Desktop allows users to deploy and scale both Windows and Office in minutes.

Some of the top benefits of the WVD solution include:

  • A multi-user Windows 10 experience
  • Compatibility with Microsoft Store
  • Compatibility with existing line-of-business applications
  • Virtualization of Office 365 ProPlus in a multi-user virtual scenario
  • Scalability to deploy and manage Windows machines via Azure
  • Virtualization of both desktops and apps to customize user access
  • Reduction in costs incurred with virtualization

Using Windows 7 on your legacy systems with plans to transition to Windows 10? Windows Virtual Desktop supports this transition, with free extended security updates. This provides flexible support options in anticipation of Microsoft Support for this platform ending in 2020 (or pay for extended support until 2023).

How Does Citrix Workspace Fit In?

Citrix is an established Microsoft Cloud Service Provider partner. In fact, Citrix and Microsoft have worked together throughout the years and have a partnership that spans three decades. The original multi-user Windows Server mode known as Terminal Server (now Remote Desktop Services) Microsoft baked into early versions of Windows NT was actually co-developed by Citrix and licensed to Microsoft in the early days of their relationship.

As both a finished solution as well as a platform, WVD is ripe with opportunity for partners to provide enhancements and additional user capabilities. This is where Citrix comes in. The software essentially layers on top of the WVD solution to offer more complete solutions for customers with extended needs. As has always been the history of Microsoft and Citrix with regards to VDI and Remote Desktop Services… Microsoft makes a good product, but it takes Citrix to make it great. Be that completing the compelling value story, enhancing security through flexible contextual access, or enabling the delivery of virtual apps and desktops across a broad range of devices, and nearly all distances and network link types due to Citrix’s highly advanced and mature HDX (ICA) protocol.

How does it work? Let’s take a closer look.

The Role of Citrix Cloud Services

Citrix is authorized to sell WVD and integrate the solution into its Citrix Workspace, as well as its Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service solution, known in the past as XenApp and XenDesktop. The Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service is differentiated from its on-prem deployed counterpart Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops by having the Citrix control plane in the “cloud”. This reduces infrastructure costs (fewer management VMs) and administrative overhead (Citrix handles updates and backups for the management servers), and allowing organizations to pay a monthly subscription fee per Citrix license versus permanent or perpetual Citrix licenses used in the traditional on-prem services which generally fall into the CAPEX category vs. the Citrix Cloud “OPEX” subscription-based model which many businesses find attractive. The customer is still responsible for managing the Virtual Delivery Agents (VDAs) that host user sessions and those can reside on-prem, or in cloud platforms such as Azure, as is the case with WVD.

The Citrix Workspace is a streamlined IT solution that allows users to securely access their data, apps, and desktops from any device. Within it, users can access remote desktop applications (including WVD) in addition to software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications such as Salesforce.

One place where this merger can be useful is in companies with partial migrations to the cloud. Until the transition is complete, they may still have a significant investment in and tie to their on-premise data center.

While they move certain workloads onto the cloud and keep others back, they can do so via Citrix Cloud, which features exclusive hybrid support. This way, those companies can still leverage their Azure-based workloads via WVD while using Citrix Cloud services.

In addition, Citrix Cloud users also enjoy the same robust capabilities provided by WVD, including Windows 10 multi-user virtualization and Office 365 ProPlus. Throughout, data access remains instant, regardless of where the files reside or when they’re accessed.

User Access and Flexibility

When Citrix users deploy WVD, they have full control over the platform. This means they’re able to access its full suite of capabilities, including:

  • Networking
  • VPNs
  • Express routes

Concerned that your mission-critical apps won’t be as responsive when you run them in a WVD environment? Don’t be. They’re more secure than ever before.

Enhanced Security from FSLogix

FSLogix (recently acquired by Microsoft) is another power player in the greater WVD platform, as well as a long-time partner of both Citrix and Microsoft. The value-added services FSLogix provides center on security, including the ability to ensure that your data roams alongside you as you travel among myriad workplace machines and solves many of the challenges VDI customers faced when moving to Office 365.

This means that regardless of where you go, your data is always close at hand. When you log into any screen via the platform, it feels like your home PC from the outset.

When you’re working within a non-persistent virtualization environment, this feature is critical. It means you can work at any given desktop on a particular session without the time and energy it takes to start all over again from scratch.

This merger provides flexibility and security for the Citrix and WVD workspace. The result? End users working within a virtualization environment, as well as the IT administrators responsible for overseeing them, can enjoy a deeper scope of service.

The Future of Citrix and Windows Virtual Desktop

As more organizations continue to migrate to the cloud, Citrix is uniquely positioned to help them utilize Windows Virtual Desktop and embrace Azure.

Moving forward, the two entities will no longer require their joint customers to choose between a desktop operating system or a server for high-density virtualization experiences. Now, managing on-premise resources beside Azure-hosted ones is a cinch.

Are you looking to leverage this functionality to optimize your digital workspace? If so, we can help.

We’re experts in this realm, capable of helping you define and implement a strategy that meets your unique business needs. From Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) planning to security reviews, we’ll guide you every step of the way, helping you build, integrate and deploy workforce mobility-enabling technologies including Citrix Workspace.

Contact us today to learn more and let’s take this next step together.

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