Recently at the Citrix Synergy event in Los Angeles, Citrix announced Workspace Services, offering the promise to rapidly build and deploy Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), virtual application delivery and mobility services from any cloud. That vision relates to several projects that the Citrix Labs team has been working on. One of these projects that we recently rolled out as a tech preview uses SCVMM Templates to dramatically simplify the steps and effort behind deploying a XenDesktop DaaS environment using Microsoft System Center.

Before I describe what the Citrix Labs team delivered, let’s take a step back and provide some definitions. SCVMM stands for System Center Virtual Machine Manager, which is a component of Microsoft System Center. A service template can be leveraged from within SCVMM to define virtual machines or applications that can be configured and deployed together. This Microsoft whitepaper quote defines service templates as follows:

“Using the VMM component of System Center 2012 R2, application owners can work with IT staffs to define standard application blueprints using service templates. Defining application requirements through a repeatable construct such as service templates makes provisioning faster and less error-prone.”

What the Citrix Labs team did is leverage the service template concept to automate much of the configuration effort required to deploy a XenDesktop environment. Our customers and partners can download the Citrix XenDesktop service template that best meets their needs, import the template into Microsoft System Center 2012 R2, answer a few basic configuration questions, deploy the service, go to lunch, come back from lunch and find their XenDesktop environment ready to go. It really is that simple.

Providing basic configuration details

Sound interesting? If so, we have a technology preview available where you can try this out today (note you need to be using Microsoft SCVMM 2012 SP1 or SCVMM 2012 R2). Newly added are service templates for XenDesktop 7.5 along with the service templates for XenDesktop 7.1 that we introduced late last year. To learn more, check out this page or go to the downloads section at Citrix.com, and select XenDesktop as the product and Betas and Technology Previews as the download type. For a walk through on how this all works, check out the following ‘how to’ video on Citrix TV.

The Citrix Labs team is not stopping with the system center templates. We are also looking at leveraging similar concepts with Windows Azure Pack and Desired State Configuration as we look at the different ways that Microsoft is embracing public, private and hybrid clouds. We even have a concept video that provides a demonstration of what deploying XenDesktop via a Windows Azure Pack Gallery Image could look like. If these concepts are interesting to you, be sure to let us know.

So give the service templates a try and let us know what you think. For more information on the kind of projects the Citrix Labs team is working on, check out the Trends and Innovation site at Citrix.com. You can also join the Citrix Labs group at LinkedIn.com.