Citrix XenApp Vs. Citrix XenDesktop: Know the Difference

Virtualization technologies have proved to be a game-changer for many organizations, with real-time access to their hardware and software resources. This has prompted others to follow suit and seek the right virtualization product for them. Citrix is a top-rated developer and offers multiple virtualization products, of which XenDesktop and XenApp are widely used and accepted worldwide.  

People often get confused by their names. While both are virtualization products, there are significant differences between them. Citrix XenDesktop is a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) offering that enables full desktop virtualization, whereas XenApp is a software solution for Windows application virtualization.  

Know the difference between XenApp vs. XenDesktop and if they are well suited for your organization, as well as a glimpse into a viable Citrix alternative with Ace Cloud Hosting

Discover The Benefits of Virtual Desktops with Hands-On Experience

What is Citrix XenDesktop? What Are its Features?  

Citrix XenDesktop is a desktop virtualization solution that enables virtual desktop infrastructure delivery to the user. It is software that helps you to create and manage virtual desktops. For provisioning virtual desktops for your entire organization, you can install them on a centralized data center and allocate their resources accordingly. It can support both private and public data servers.  

XenDesktop comes with unique in-built features like Delivery Control, StoreFront Portal, Citrix Studio, and Citrix License Server for running and managing virtual desktops.  

The Delivery Control stores desktop configurations using Citrix Director. It is a connection broker compatible with various hypervisors like VMWare vSphere.  

Also Read: Citrix vs. VMware VDI 

The StoreFront Portal displays applications and desktops with Provisioning Services for real-time virtual desktop deployment.  

Pros of Citrix XenDesktop  

Device Independence: Enables access to virtual desktops from anywhere, anytime.  

End-user Experience: Similar to a local or native desktop.  

Well-suited For Modern Workplaces: Seamlessly blends in with modern applications and services.  

Secure: Ability to comply with different regulatory compliances like HIPAA PCI-DSS.  

Customized To Meet Industry Needs: Optimized for usage across various industry verticals.  

Scalable: Add or remove users as per business requirements  

Cons of Citrix XenDesktop  

Complex Setup Process: May present difficulties during initial setup and complicated product documentation  

Demand High-security Configuration: To mitigate security concerns, must disable certain default features like File Share, Printer Sharing, etc.  

What is Citrix XenApp?  

Also known as Citrix Virtual Apps, XenApp is an application virtualization software. It facilitates a user to access an application remotely hosted on a centralized data server.  

You can access the hosted application from any device with proper validation and an internet connection. It uses Citrix HDX technology to provide a high-quality remote application experience.  

Moreover, it is compatible with OS upgrades or PC migration without application reconfiguration.  

Pros of Citrix XenApp  

Rapid Deployment: Faster delivery of different application processes.  

Superior Performance: Independent/Flexcast Management Architecture for an unparalleled end-user experience.  

Moderate Setup Process: Easy technical training with a smooth initial setup  

Cons of Citrix XenApp

High Licensing Costs: SMBs have to incur higher  

Limited Compatibility: XenApp updates may present specific compatibility issues.  

Top 5 Differences Between Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix XenApp  


  • Virtualization:

Both virtualization technologies are different in terms of their functioning. XenDesktop is only concerned with desktop virtualization. With XenDesktop, you can create and manage multiple virtual desktops from a centralized data server.  

XenApp is an application virtualization software. It allows you to access a specific application and its data. So, while XenDesktop lets you provision a virtual desktop, you need an additional XenApp to access its virtualized applications remotely.  

  • Deployment

XenDesktop and XenApp differ in their deployment approach. XenApp is based on Server Based Computing (SBC). In SBC, you can host multiple user sessions on a single server. All the users have to share a common platform. However, they cannot customize it individually or apply personalized settings.  

Depending on their VDI type, a user has a complete desktop configuration with XenDesktop. Their user environment is isolated and separated from other users. 

  • Resource Utilization:

XenApp provides higher resource efficiency than XenDesktop. It uses SBC (as mentioned above), which is similar to RDS (Remote Desktop Protocol). A large number of users can be hosted on the same platform without needing considerable resources.  

In XenDesktop, every user has their environment. This calls for immense resource allocation. For instance, while 200 users in XenApp will require only 15 GB of shared storage, the same users will require over 1 TB for provisioning virtual desktops with XenDesktop.  

  • Functionality

Both XenApp and XenDesktop fulfill different organizational roles. XenDesktop is well-suited for individuals/organizations desiring an isolated desktop environment. They can enjoy absolute customization authority with their virtual desktop. It is best suited for resource-intensive roles like software developers, graphic designers, etc.  

XenApp only provides access to specific applications. It is well suited for businesses requiring remote access to any software. For example, an accountant may use it to host accounting software and data.  

  • Capital Expenditure: 

Both XenDesktop and XenApp have considerable differences when it comes to capital requirements. A virtual desktop requires immense financial expenditure. You have to procure the computational resources necessary for deploying individual virtual desktops. As a result, your CapEx rises significantly.  

However, suppose you host your virtual desktops with a reputed service provider. In that case, there will be a significant reduction in expenses as they offer a managed VDI in which security, servers, and procurement are concerned. You just have to pay for it as per resource consumption. 

In XenApp, all you need is to host an application. A single OS platform can easily withstand multiple users (up to 200 users on one server). This ultimately makes it less expensive than XenDesktop.  

Customize Your Virtual Desktop Solution To Meet Your Needs

Which Solution Should You Choose?  

Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix XenApp have different use cases and benefits for different industries. There is no answer to which one you should choose. It all depends upon your business requirements and needs.  

In general, large organizations should go for XenDesktop, whereas XenApp caters to most small businesses’ needs.  

Go For A Citrix XenDesktop Alternative- ACE Hosted VDI  

Migrating your workloads to the cloud is a breeze when you host your virtual desktops with Ace Cloud Hosting.  Organizations switch to ACE for many reasons. Here are a few of the most common:  

Simplified Architecture:  

ACE offers you hosted desktops on the Citrix platform that is simple to use and doesn’t need specialized IT teams to deploy. Moreover, it can be deployed within hours rather than weeks or months. You can leverage the benefits of both with ACE Hosted Virtual Desktops as it unites application delivery and virtualization into one offering, enabling firms to deploy critical resources to the workforce rapidly and efficiently.  

Fast Scalability:  

ACE Hosted Virtual Desktop Solution is designed to enable remote applications to the workforce on any device for multiple users. Therefore, the user can leverage auto scaling from dozens to thousands without a tedious process.  

All-inclusive Pricing Model  

ACE VDI operates on an all-in-one flexible pricing model with a cost-saving licensing structure. You can even get a customized plan with different RAM, vCPU, and storage as per your business needs.  

Full-packed Security 

Your confidential data and digital transformation initiatives are protected with built-in security policies.   

What are you waiting for? 

Book a demo with one of our infrastructure experts today! 

About Julie Watson

Julie is a dynamic professional with over 16 years of rich experience as a VDI and Application Hosting expert. At Ace Cloud Hosting, she humanizes disruptive and emerging remote working trends to help leaders discover new and better possibilities for digital transformation and innovation by using cloud solutions with an enterprise-class security approach. Beyond work, Julie is a passionate surfer.
On the weekend, you will find her hanging out with her family or surfing around the North Shore of Oahu.

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