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With the rapid rise in remote work and acceleration of digital transformation initiatives, organizations everywhere are looking for ways to achieve greater agility. Enterprises and small businesses alike are evaluating different service providers for nearly every aspect of business operations, from how their workplaces are set up to the state of their IT infrastructure.
As a part of this process, you may be wondering about Azure Virtual Desktop vs. Citrix, and which one is the best fit for your business. But have you considered what your company can achieve with both Citrix and Azure Virtual Desktop?
Businesses around the world are discovering how Citrix and Azure Virtual Desktop (formerly Windows Virtual Desktop, or WVD) come together for superior performance, increased security, and a better user experience—all while simplifying management and reducing total costs.
When it comes to business agility and flexibility virtual desktops are the way to go. And Azure Virtual Desktop is among the most innovative options available today. Microsoft’s desktop as a service (DaaS) offering provides compelling capabilities and exclusive features for cloud-delivered virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) – whether customers choose to migrate from on-premises or build new. Virtual machine types can host multiple end user sessions or a single session depending on use cases. Customers can deploy server and desktop virtual machines to deliver to users and scale up or down as required.
Overall, the Azure Virtual Desktop platform provides an easy path for modernizing your infrastructure while reducing datacenter spending. Administrators can easily configure the environment with an Azure subscription, and end users connect to virtual app and desktop resources over the web from any device. These resources are delivered from server or desktop operating systems, and can include full desktops and virtual apps that look and feel near-native.
Perhaps even more appealing is the ability to provision the exact number and type of virtual machines required to meet your company’s unique needs. Exclusive operating system options, such as Windows 10 enterprise multi-session and Windows 7 enterprise with extended support, help satisfy a range of virtualization needs. This makes it easy for Azure Virtual Desktop customers to deploy virtual machine resources and scale up or down as required.
With virtual servers, Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is used to provide multi-user access to apps and desktops from a single virtual machine. With desktops, users can connect one-to-one or many-to-one with the Azure-exclusive Windows 10 enterprise multi-session virtual machine.
With these features in mind, many organizations turn to the Azure Virtual Desktop platform when they need to:
Azure Virtual Desktop makes it easy to scale capacity up or down as required, with global reach
Because many organizations already own Microsoft entitlements, deploying Azure Virtual Desktop services is not only fast but also highly cost-effective
Modernize cloud infrastructure
Azure Virtual Desktop runs in Microsoft Azure, where modern cloud services and tools enable organizations to increase agility
Because Azure Virtual Desktop environments are optimized for use with Microsoft 365 offerings, users can create and collaborate with ease
While the benefits of Azure Virtual Desktop alone are extensive, adding Citrix to Azure Virtual Desktop allows customers to do far more while also spending less.
Thanks to a 30-year partnership, Citrix and Microsoft are expanding what companies can achieve with app and desktop virtualization. By combining the best features of Azure Virtual Desktop with the added functionality of Citrix, your organization can reduce risk, improve the employee experience and eliminate management complexities—all while accelerating your transition to the cloud.
HDX technology provides a high-definition application and desktop experience with crystal-clear voice and video to Azure Virtual Desktop plus other Windows and Linux workloads, even over challenging or long-distance network connections. Graphics-intensive apps are delivered with pixel-perfect renderings, and transitions between mobile and stationary workplaces are seamless. Citrix Workspace app provides secure access for end users from personal or managed devices and platforms including Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android and HTML5.
Hybrid and multi-cloud deployment options let you leverage existing resources side-by-side with new cloud-hosted apps and desktops using Azure Virtual Desktop and Azure. With hybrid cloud support, you can embrace both on-premises datacenters and public cloud resources from a single pane of glass. Multi-cloud support enables the same single pane of glass for accessing resources in two or more public clouds.
Enhanced Microsoft 365 support lets you further optimize Microsoft Teams and Skype when running in virtualized sessions, from a wider array of endpoint devices. More specifically, Microsoft 365 extensions let users access OneDrive content from within Citrix Workspace or the Citrix virtualized environment based on individual needs. Authentication and chat data remain secure in the Azure Virtual Desktop virtual desktop, while voice and video are offloaded to each endpoint to maximize performance. Put simply, Outlook, OneDrive and other Microsoft 365 apps all perform flawlessly, and data always stays synchronized.
Industry-leading performance and scalability with Workspace Environment Management (WEM) to improve logon times, enable fair sharing of resources and control the user environment with Azure Virtual Desktop and Azure. Citrix Autoscale helps manage cloud compute costs through VM power management while Citrix SD-WAN optimizes site-to-cloud connections including Microsoft 365 use.
Advanced security features ensure only authenticated users meeting approved criteria gain access to data and apps on Azure Virtual Desktop VMs and Azure resources. Automated evaluation of devices, locations and other critical factors provides continuous protection against malware and other cybersecurity threats, while innovative keylogging and screenshot protection with session watermarking prevent data loss. Session Recording allows admins to intelligently record and playback user sessions, while configuration logging provides detailed reporting on each action that admins take.
End-to-end analytics enable you to proactively detect and respond to unusual activities and anomalies within your Azure Virtual Desktop VMs and Azure subscription. Using Citrix Analytics for Security, you can classify users with behavior-based risk scores and take action as needed.With Citrix Analytics for Performance users are automatically grouped by performance score with prescriptive insights to optimize and resolve issues.
Comprehensive management and monitoring tools include Citrix Studio to guide site configuration and policies, as well as Citrix Director to provide faster, more thorough help desk support across your Azure Virtual Desktop resources and Azure environment. Granular delegated administration ensures the right level of access for all teams. It’s all cloud delivered and kept evergreen for admins.
Provisioning and app layering tools streamline common lifecycle tasks with Azure Virtual Desktop VMs. Citrix’s Machine Creation Services (MCS) allows easy provisioning of hundreds or thousands of machines from a golden image, and includes easy update and rollback features. Citrix App Layering, meanwhile, greatly reduces the time required to manage apps living within multiple golden VM images while also allowing unique personalization capabilities with user layers.
Turnkey DaaS (Desktops-as-a-Service) solutions that are easy to deploy. For administrators who want a quick, easy way to manage Azure Virtual Desktop cloud desktops on Azure without extensive management requirements, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard on Azure is the answer. It offers simple, easy-to-deploy DaaS desktops and apps built on top of Azure Virtual Desktop resources. Leveraging Citrix Quick Deploy technology, admins can spin up dozens or hundreds of Azure desktops in a matter of minutes. These capabilities are also available in the full Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service.
Setting up a Azure Virtual Desktop environment with Citrix is a simple, straightforward process. The general steps to complete are:
With an enhanced experience, stronger security, and greater choice, Citrix adds significant value to Azure Virtual Desktop while also reducing costs over the lifetime of the environment. Just as Citrix has extended on-premises Remote Desktop Services and Terminal Services for years, we’re now redefining what's possible with Azure Virtual Desktop—all so you can take your virtual computing environment and remote work to the next level.
Looking for more technical information? Read our tech brief on Citrix Tech Zone.