Citrix XenDesktop? Thanks, but no thanks, firm says

Faced with a choice between published applications on Citrix XenApp and hosted desktops based on XenDesktop VDI, Bimba Manufacturing opted to stick with the devil it knew.

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After a prolonged proof of concept, Monee, Ill.,-based Bimba Manufacturing Co. has opted not to adopt Citrix Systems Inc.'s XenDesktop virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Instead, it's sticking with what it knows: published applications based on Citrix XenApp (aka Presentation Server).

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In the end, "Bimba runs a very lean IT shop, and they wanted to leverage the investments they already have," explained Eric Perkins, the CTO at Cyberklix, the value-added reseller that worked with Bimba on the implementation. "Administration will cost less with XenApp because there's no learning curve, plus they already own several hundred XenApp licenses that they'll just need to augment," he said.

Going with XenDesktop also would have required a much heavier back-end server configuration. At Bimba, a single XenApp server can handle about 60 to 70 concurrent users, but the same server configured for XenDesktop VDI would have supported only four to six users, Perkins said.

AppSense eases end-user politics
The reason Bimba considered VDI and XenDesktop in the first place was because it had taken over a new manufacturing facility in Tijuana, Mexico, where end users had traditional standalone desktops. "We didn't want to come in and look like we were taking their PCs away from them," said Matt Nantais, a systems analyst at Bimba. "From a political standpoint, XenDesktop doesn't seem like a downgrade."

Administration will cost less with XenApp because there's no learning curve.
Eric Perkins,
CTOCyberklix

But Bimba circumvented the problem of "silly end-user complaints," like the inability to personalize a desktop with custom backgrounds, by implementing user environment management software from AppSense, said Cyberklix's Perkins. With AppSense Environment Manager, user profile settings such as the aforementioned backgrounds, but also settings like drive mappings, printers and application access, are stored in a central database and applied to a session at logon. Compared with straight XenApp-published applications, the end result is "less user rejection," Perkins said. It also translates into lower overall cost, as AppSense is licensed per server. "The more users they can get on a box, the greater the ROI with AppSense," Perkins said.

In a recent interview, Citrix's group vice president and general manager for the XenServer Products Group, Lou Shipley, acknowledged that with its existing XenApp customers the company has waged an uphill battle for XenDesktop. "A lot of customers look at the economics and say, 'I don't really see it yet,'" he said. "That's one of the reasons we bought Ardence," he added, referring to the software streaming technology it acquired in 2006, which can reduce storage consumption and log-on times for virtual desktops.

But, for customers that need greater customization that XenApp can provide, XenDesktop is the way to go, Shipley said. Plus, "I think the economics will get better."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Alex Barrett, News Director.

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