A key advantage of XenDesktop is that it works with three of the most common virtualization products on the market today – Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere.  However, each of these Hypervisors has a different architecture and feature set. Since each XenDesktop design will vary according to the Hypervisor chosen, we’ve created three separate Planning Guides:

It’s been a while since the first XenDesktop Planning Guide for Hyper-V was released and we’ve learned a lot in that time.  That’s why Ed Duncan and I have just finished a complete rewrite of the Hyper-V Planning Guide (CTX134944) with help from Alex Balcanquall, Michael Cooper, Tony Sanchez and Frank Anderson.  In the new release, we’ve added and revised a number of key design decisions for Hyper-V, including:

  1. Which edition of Hyper-V should I choose? The pros and cons of each edition are discussed and recommendations are provided on which edition should be used to host XenApp servers, virtual desktops and infrastructure servers.
  2. How many physical networks will I need to attach to my hosts?  Details are provided on the typical physical networks requirements for a Hyper-V host supporting XenDesktop including recommendations on traffic separation and which networks should be teamed.
  3. Which virtual machines should be hosted on a Failover Cluster? Recommendations are given based on whether the virtual machines are infrastructure servers, dedicated desktops, pooled desktops or XenApp servers.
  4. Should I enable Dynamic Memory?  The Planning guide will explore the benefits from enabling Dynamic Memory and provide recommendations on how to optimize this technology.
  5. Should I use Provisioning Services (PVS) or Machine Creation Services (MCS) with Hyper-V?  The Planning Guide also highlights important considerations when deciding between Provisioning Services or Machine Creation Services.

Sometimes it can be hard to know which option to choose for every design decision.  That’s why we’ve included a table at the start of the document outlining our recommended defaults for each decision.  The recommendations won’t be right in every situation but it’s a great place to start and you can refer to the relevant design decision sections for more information.

We’ve also provided high-level implementation guidance in the Appendix to help ensure that you complete the work in the correct order and don’t miss a critical step.  Where appropriate we’ve also provided links to Citrix and Microsoft whitepapers / blog posts so that you can dig deeper for more information.

Andy Baker – Architect
Worldwide Consulting
Desktop & Apps Team
Virtual Desktop Handbook
Project Accelerator