Azure Virtual Desktop and Citrix: Virtual Desktop Management Solutions

More organizations are moving their traditional, on-premises datacenters to the cloud as remote work becomes even more popular. However, hybrid cloud infrastructure with a mix of data centers on private and public clouds remain ideal for organizations with already substantial investments in on-premises environments, or if required by law to keep sensitive data on-premises. For organizations using Citrix, integrating Azure Virtual Desktops into their current infrastructure is a viable option.

How Do Citrix and Azure Virtual Desktop Compare?

Citrix has a product that is similar to Azure Virtual Desktop called Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. Used in virtual desktop infrastructures (VDIs) and Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions, both products have their own set of pros and cons. However, how do they measure up in terms of cost-efficiency, accessibility to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), ease of administration, and user experience? Let’s look at both platforms to determine which is better.

Citrix requires servers with Windows Server OSs and Windows Remote Desktop Service client access licenses (CALs). If your organization requires Microsoft 365, you’ll need Office CALs for your users too. Aside from hardware and software, you may need to pay for specialized consulting services to set up your infrastructure. All these require a substantial amount of money.

In contrast, Azure Virtual Desktop is already included in Microsoft 365. To use the platform, organizations only have to pay for their Azure subscriptions. However, specialty consulting services might still be needed, particularly for organizations new to Windows.

Lower implementation costs mean that Azure Virtual Desktop is more accessible to smaller organizations. This is especially true for SMBs with limited IT budgets. For SMBs already using Windows 10, IT staff can leverage their experience to familiarize themselves with Azure Virtual Desktop quickly.

In terms of ease of administration, Azure Virtual Desktop and installed applications can be managed centrally from the cloud. Again, the transition is easier for organizations already on Windows 10. On the other hand, Citrix can be quite complex to manage due to its more extensive features. While you can actually layer Citrix on top of Azure Virtual Desktop, maintaining the former requires more expertise than what SMBs may have on hand.

As for the desktop experience, Citrix users are presented with the Windows Server OS upon logon. Because the Windows Server OS looks different from Windows 10, users who prefer the familiarity of the latter might take to Azure Virtual Desktop more easily, since it’s essentially a Windows 10 desktop that’s based on the cloud.

How Do Citrix and Azure Virtual Desktop Work Together?

While Azure Virtual Desktop may enjoy an advantage over Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, if you’re already using Citrix in your on-premises datacenter, you don’t have to choose one over the other. You can leverage your familiarity with Citrix and combine these two platforms in a way that would be advantageous to your organization.

In the typical Azure Virtual Desktop-powered infrastructure, Microsoft takes care of everything, from the management services that maintain and provide access to the desktops and applications in the Azure cloud to its computing, networking, and storage components.

Citrix offers several alternatives to this Microsoft-only, cloud-based infrastructure, allowing the use of Citrix features that are otherwise not available in Azure Virtual Desktop. For example, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard for Azure is a preprogrammed solution for adding fully managed desktops to your infrastructure.

The Citrix services are ideal for hybrid cloud environments, allowing organizations to leverage their investments in Citrix and, at the same time, embrace technologies used across the Azure cloud. The end result is an improved VDI or DaaS solution.

What Are the Benefits of Using Azure Virtual Desktop and Citrix?

By combining Azure Virtual Desktop with Citrix, you can make your infrastructure better, especially if you’re aiming to set up a hybrid cloud infrastructure. The advantages of using them together include:

How Do You Subscribe to Citrix Services?

You can subscribe to Citrix and use it for Azure via Citrix or the Azure Marketplace. A Citrix Cloud account is required prior to subscription.

There are two components in a Citrix with Azure subscription:

When availing of the service via Citrix, you can get both components at the same time. If you get it through the Azure Marketplace, you need to order the first component before you can get the second one.

While availing of Citrix Azure Consumption Fund is not required, if you choose to get it, you benefit from having only one bill coursed through Citrix, instead of getting two separate bills from Citrix and Azure. You also get premium-level Microsoft support coursed through Citrix and other service features, including support for non-domain-joined VMs and using your own Active Directory (AD) in case your organization already has one, rather than being limited to Azure AD only.

However, there are also several limitations when getting the service. These include the following;

Parallels RAS Is a Simpler and More Cost-Effective Alternative to Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard for Azure

Despite the advantages of using Azure Virtual Desktop and Citrix together, the complexity of the solution remains. At the same time, using Citrix entails additional costs, although this may not matter that much if you have invested in Citrix previously. The limitations imposed on your organization when subscribing to the Citrix service also lessen its attractiveness.

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) is a viable alternative to deploying virtual desktops and applications on Azure. Using Azure as a hypervisor, Parallels RAS allows organizations to provision and scale VDI and DaaS workloads on-demand, leading to faster deployments and simplifying management. Moreover, it extends the capabilities of Azure Virtual Desktop by integrating and managing all workloads and resources from a centralized console.

Organizations may integrate Parallels RAS within their new or existing Azure Virtual Desktop-based infrastructures and deliver a comprehensive solution to end users that includes access to applications and desktops on VDI and Remote Desktop Session Hosts (RDSH). Parallels RAS supports on-premises, hybrid and public cloud environments, as well as Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session hosts and multi-cloud deployments.

Parallels RAS on Azure delivers faster, scalable and more reliable access to corporate applications globally, at an affordable cost. It also comes with a simple, full-featured licensing model. By using the platform, IT departments can repurpose a considerable portion of their budgets to other pressing projects.

You can check how Parallels RAS can help streamline your application delivery on Azure by downloading the trial.