We recently went through another successful round of XenDesktop Tech Talk webinars.  From May 18 through 20, we conducted a series of well-attended 3-day technically-oriented webinars specifically around virtual desktops.  I know sitting in an hour long webinar might not be the most exciting experience for everyone, but its amazing to see the turnout on anything related to virtual desktops these days!  Not only did the webinars draw 200+ live attendees each, we’ve received numerous archived views already.  It’s pretty exciting to see that webinar stats continue to rise from day to day.  So, for all those that might have missed the live versions of the show, here are the topics and links to the archived sections:
May 18th: Effectively planning a technical migration from physical PCs to Citrix XenDesktop.  Watch on Demand
May 19th: Citrix XenDesktop 3 Architecture and HDX User Experience: A Comparison Versus VMware. Watch on Demand
May 20th: Citrix and Intel: Manage Once and Stream to Many Local Desktops. Watch On Demand. Watch on Demand
And as a teaser, I’ve chosen the top 3 Q/A topics from each of the webinars:

Effectively planning a technical migration from physical PCs to Citrix XenDesktop.

Q: Migrating from physical desktops to virtual desktops, how do you calculate how many users you can get on a server?
You should assess the following:
•    Target virtual desktop OS type – Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
•    Desktop hardware requirements (CPU, memory, network) to apply the right configuration to virtual machines
•    Storage space
This information, along with server hardware details, will allow you a better sizing estimate. It is best to run a scalability test on at least a single server.

Q: If the master image gets updated on Saturday after all users have logout, will there be any delay in OS delivery when the users come in next Monday?
If the master image has been updated on Saturday and you know how many logons you have simultaneously on Monday, you can adjust the setting “Idle Pool” of a Desktop Group. This Desktop Group setting allows you to configure how many idle desktops (booted and waiting at the Windows logon screen) you want in your pool at certain times of the day. You can also configure a peak period to cover the time at which most users will be logging on to their desktops. This period starts at the beginning of your business day.

Q: How is a dual monitor connected?
There is no requirement for any specific configuration on the endpoint device to support dual or multiple monitors for a virtual desktop. Multiple monitors are detected on endpoint device and virtual desktop is displayed across all monitors. A single virtual desktop can span up to 8 monitors in a rectangular shape (e.g. 1×8, 2×4), where each monitor must have the same resolution.

Citrix XenDesktop 3 Architecture and HDX User Experience: A Comparison Versus VMware.

Q: if VMware ESX is the VM hosting infrastrucure for XenDesktop, can XenDesktop still be able to deliver similar user experience ?
A: Absolutely.  XenDesktop is built on an open architecture platform and will work with VMware ESX and HyperV, the inherent HDX technologies will continue to deliver the superior user experience across these platforms.

Q: VMWare claims that its new PC-over-IP protocol will be superior to ICA. Is this really a valid claim?

A: No, this is not a valid claim.  PC-over-IP is still being tested as a technology and has not been tested in real customer scenarios.  While there are vendor claims for features like Local Keyboard & Mouse Echo, these capabilities are exist already in XenDesktop.  In addition, per Citrix’s internal and 3rd party testing, XenDesktop, which leverages ICA, still uses only a fraction of the bandwidth required for PC-over-IP.  For more related information on the superiority of HDX, visit: User Experience Blog Article and HDX Flash Support Article.

Q: How do I solve the road warrior without internet ?  Is there a checkout feature now or being planned? (like VMware?)
A: Citrix’s announcement of XenClient will specifically to address the needs of the road warrior.  XenClient is a Type 1 hypervisor-based local client solution and will allow both corporate and personal OS environments to fully leverage local computing resources and graphics processors to ensure the highest performance and multimedia experience for all offline users.  Read more here.

Citrix and Intel: Manage Once and Stream to Many Local Desktops.

Q: How do you use one image for several different models of workstations (different video, network card)?
A: You will need to manage one image for each distinct model of a workstation.  In other words, a separate OS image for one workstation with a particular video or network card, and a different OS image for another with a different video or network card hardware set.

Q: How many endpoint devices can be streamed from a single vdisk?
A: From a vDisk… infinite to the IO limits of the storage where the vDisk is stored.  Now a PVS server can easily handle booting 500 devices whether doing one image or multiple standard images.  The scalability depends on storage, network and the server itself.

Q: How long does the whole process take (from the user turning on the machine to actually using the machine)?  
A:  With virtual machines (running different OS’s like XP, Vista, etc) provisioned and ready for access inside the data center, the whole process – from the time the user logs onto his or her virtual desktop until he or she is able to use it – is nearly instantaneous.  This, of course, does not take into account the network latency and lag effects.
By the way, if you’re interested in learning more and seeing some independent reviews of XenDesktop versus other virtual desktop solutions, visit this page.