How people view the convergence of desktop virtualization and cloud is drastically changing.  When we first discussed our vision for re-imagining how desktops and apps would be delivered in the cloud era one of the key areas of focus was the intersection of the service delivery (XenApp and XenDesktop) and cloud infrastructure.  This is why I’m really excited about the hybrid cloud provisioning feature in XenApp & XenDesktop 7.5 that enables native, integrated provisioning from Studio directly to CloudPlatform based IaaS clouds.

When we were designing this feature the most important design principle was to make the setup as familiar as possible to the Citrix administrator.  This is why the same administrative workflows you were used to in Studio now apply to cloud infrastructure as well as connecting to a traditional hypervisor. You still define your host connections, still design your machine catalogs, and deliver the apps and desktops through delivery groups. But when these 2 products are used together there are some specific highlights that I want to point out that will improve the overall Citrix administrative experience.

Improve operations by separating roles

Coupling these layers were important because mis-configuration of the infrastructure or miscalculated infrastructure selection can be a major source of headache for desktop virtualization admins (and by association, the end users accessing these workspaces).  As deployments scale, the perceived complexity grows as the admin needs to become experts in the storage, network, and storage in addition to the other areas of desktop virtualization. Using hybrid cloud provisioning with CloudPlatform, the teams can separate responsibilities between the infrastructure layer and the desktop and app delivery layer. Now, when a Citrix admin creates a new machine catalog, they aren’t presented with decisions on the storage, network, and compute configuration. Instead, these are simply advertised inside of Studio for the service designer to select the proper service offering that best matches their application or desktop needs.

Optimize cost and capacity utilization

With the integrated solution the CloudPlatform infrastructure engineer can design service offerings specifically for desktop and application workloads and fine tune based upon the feedback loop to continuously optimize the experience delivered to the end user.  Since XenApp and XenDesktop are communicating only with the CloudPlatform API instead of directly to the hypervisor, the admin can scale the infrastructure quickly and on as an as needed basis. Adding new infrastructure resources to the CloudPlatform zones is an easy task and the beauty is all of this is abstracted from the XenDesktop deployment. So you want to quickly grow from 200 users to 2000? No problem, no change to the Studio host infrastructure configuration.

Increase availability and simplify image management 

When designing a Citrix deployment its important to carefully select where you place your machine catalogs to ensure you are not creating too large of a failure domain.  With a traditional deployment this means spreading the machine catalogs across different clusters and adding the catalogs into your delivery groups so that if one cluster is unavailable your users can get still access a workspace to be productive. When using CloudPlatform, Studio simplifies the host connection process by allowing you to easily select the region and availability zone you’ll use to provision the machines. Utilizing availability zones allows you to organize your Citrix infrastructure into logical isolation and redundancy areas. When creating these different isolation groups you need to ensure that the image used by MCS to provision the catalogs is available and updated on each host. Today, this requires a separate tool or script to replicate the images around your infrastructure for each version.  We’ve simplified this administration problem when using CloudPlatform by allowing you to upload the image template once per deployment to a secondary storage and CloudPlatform ensures the availability of the template across each necessary host.  If you want to update the image, update the template once via CloudPlatform and you are done.

I’m really excited to see our customers bring their apps and desktop deployments into the cloud era together with XenApp, XenDesktop and CloudPlatform.  If you want to read more about XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5 or what it means to deliver this to AWS as well as CloudPlatform take a look at the blogs from my colleagues here and here.