Last updated on August 30th, 2022

VDI or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure has enabled many small, medium, and large scale companies to work remotely efficiently. On-premise VDI to cloud VDI solutions, most companies have adapted these virtualization solutions to have a cost-effective remote workforce.

Also, two giant VDI providers Citrix and VMware, have played a crucial role in serving this vast market. Due to the high competition and innovation in VDI technology, it is becoming challenging to understand each provider’s VDI setup.


In this scenario, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) like Ace Cloud Hosting have played a crucial role by offering DaaS or Desktop as a Service. DaaS offers you Virtual Desktop Infrastructure on the cloud where all IT infra is taken care of by the MSP. Hence, you don’t need to worry about any technicalities of VDI.

Know More: Top DaaS providers offering managed services.

Here let’s compare the two virtualization solutions Citrix and VMware.

Citrix vs. VMware: Based on Product Classification

Citrix is a Florida based multinational company that offers virtualization products with the following names:

  • Citrix Virtual Apps (formerly known as Citrix XenApp),
  • Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops (formerly known as Citrix XenDesktop)
  • Citrix Hypervisor (formerly known as Citrix XenServer)

VMware is a California based multinational company that also offers virtualization products with the following names:

  • VMware ESXi – It is an enterprise-class, type 1 hypervisor.
  • VMware vSAN – It is an enterprise-class storage virtualization software.
  • VMware NSX – It is a network virtualization and security platform.
  • VMware Horizon – It is a VDI solution somewhat similar to Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.

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Citrix XenDesktop vs. VMware Horizon

Citrix offers VDI solutions via Citrix XenDesktop, now known as Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop, whereas VMware offers VDI solutions via its product, VMware Horizon.

Whether it’s Citrix or VMware, a virtual desktop infrastructure generally comprises components like Hypervisor, Connection Broker, provisioning technologies, Front End Systems, and an External Gateway.

Let’s compare the two solutions based on these components.

Component 1: Hypervisor

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops

For an on-premise VDI deployment, Citrix supports multiple hypervisors like Citrix Hypervisor, VMware ESXi, and Microsoft Hyper-V. It can be deployed on Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure. Moreover, in the cloud space, MSPs are offering Citrix managed services on their cloud infra.

VMware Horizon

Currently, VMware supports only a single hypervisor that is VMware ESXi, for the on-premise deployments. However, VMware offers some flexibility in the cloud space as it can be deployed on Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and IBM Cloud.

Component 2: Connection Broker

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops

It offers brokering services through its Delivery Controller, which is responsible for the distribution of the resources. The Delivery Controller is a server component that communicates with the database and manages the virtual desktop or app access.

VMware Horizon

It offers brokering services through its View Connection Servers, which helps communicate with resources (similar to Citrix). It authenticates the users and gives a pathway to the exact virtual machine. It also offers management capabilities like sign-on features and the setting up of various other policies.

Component 3: Provisioning Technologies

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops

Citrix’s primary provisioning technology is known as PVS or Provisioning Services. It is a software technology that delivers configuration or update information to the endpoint devices via shared disk images. Hence, it enables the organizations to decrease the number of disc images they have to manage. PVS also offers great scalability as virtual machines can boot via a separate Citrix Provisioning Server handling all the requests in a shared manner.

Another provisioning technology Citrix uses is MCS or Machine Creation Services. It is also a software technology that allows users to create duplicate virtual machine configurations with a base image. PVS offers excellent scalability and saves disk space, whereas MCS can provide you with appropriate network resilience.

VMware Horizon

VMware also offers two provisioning technologies that are, Linked clones and Instant clones. Linked clones are similar to Citrix’s MCS. In linked clones, replicas are created using parent virtual machines, and clones are dependent on a software component called View Composer. View Composer controls the availability of the resources.

Instant Clone is created from the memory of an already running parent virtual machine using the vmFork technology.

Component 4: Front End Systems

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops

The front end of Citrix is called Storefront. It is a type of application store which validates user credentials. If Storefront authenticates and matches the user credentials with the active directory, it connects the users to their respective resources that the controller pulls.

VMware Horizon

The front end in VMware is handled by View Connection Server (VCS). VCS handles all the authentication and authorization.

Component 5: External Gateway

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops

External gateway in Citrix is called a Citrix Gateway, also referred to as Netscaler Access Gateway. It serves as a security layer that performs user validation within the SSL environment. After verification, the requests are forwarded to the Storefront.

VMware Horizon

There are two gateways in VMware: the traditional security server and UAG (Universal Access Gateway). The first one is a Windows-based security server requiring one-to-one pairing with VCS, and the latter is the new Linux-based gateway that can connect multiple VCS.

Which one to choose between Citrix and VMware?

Selecting the right VDI solution is not at all easy. Citrix and VMware both serve appropriate virtualization technologies. As we compared both the solutions based on the five components, we have reached the following conclusions:

  1. Citrix supports multiple hypervisors, which helps organizations to look towards a diversified hosting solution. However, VMware is a more targeted solution and gains market trust with its ESXi technology.
  2. Citrix’s Delivery Controller and VMware’s View Connection Servers both are unmatchable. The only caveat is the additional services they offer with their brokering services, as Citrix provides you with a single web-based administration for all admin-level tasks.
  3. Citrix and VMware have two provisioning technologies: PVS, MCS, and Linked clones, Instant clones, respectively. Technologies of both are relatable with each other in their functioning. Both the solutions can handle the workload with appropriate speed and consistency.
  4. Citrix Storefront has a good look and feel with a dedicated administration console. VMware VCS is also not complex to use.
  5. Citrix Netscaler Access Gateway offers you lots of additional features. However, it may increase your cost of licensing, and your in-house staff may undergo complex IT training. In contrast, VMware’s traditional security server and UAG are a little simpler and quicker to understand.

Maybe Citrix and VMware VDI are complex for you to understand. Why not leave all your IT hassle on an MSP and have customized virtual desktops.

Read more: How does MSP like ACE reduce cost and complexity through its DaaS Solutions?

Choose Managed Services to Reduce Cost and Complexity

Citrix and VMware are both high-end players in the VDI market. It is very challenging to understand the technology due to its complexity. Hence, it becomes difficult to compare and opt for the right VDI solution for your company.

To cope with these challenges, you can opt for an MSP (Managed Service Provider) partnered with these giants and offer you customized solutions according to your requirements.

An MSP, like Ace Cloud Hosting, a strategic partner with Citrix, offers managed Citrix virtual desktops created on their cloud infrastructure. They make VDI easier for you to understand, and you don’t need to get involved in any technicality as it is managed entirely by the IT team.

Study about the ACE’s pay-as-you-go cloud VDI pricing plans offered on Citrix Virtual App and Desktop.

To know more, talk to our Solutions Consultant at 855-223-4887 or click the chat button below.

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