What is the difference between XenDesktop and XenApp

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 in their suit and seek out 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. 

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People often get confused by their names. While both are virtualization products, there are significant differences between them. Let’s have a detailed look at both the products and their differences.

What is XenDesktop?

XenDesktop is a desktop virtualization solution. 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.     

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

Pros of XenDesktop 

1. Device independence coupled with remote access enables you to access virtual desktops from anywhere, anytime.
2. End-user experience is similar to local or native desktops. 
3. Seamlessly blends in with modern applications and services.   
4. Wide user acceptance. 
5. Ability to comply with different regulatory compliances like HIPAA PCI-DSS.
6. Optimized for usage across various industry verticals.
7. Flexible infrastructure scalability and maintenance. 
8. Optimum for any business size.

Cons of XenDesktop    

1. May present difficulties during initial setup.  
2. Complicated product documentation  
3. To mitigate security concerns, must disable certain default features like File Share, Printer Sharing, etc.   
4. High renewal costs   
5. Requires manual deletion for session termination due to improper user logouts.     

What is XenApp?    

Also known as Citrix Virtual Apps, XenApp is an application virtualization software. It facilitates a user to access an application remotely. The application is 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 XenApp    

1. Faster delivery of different application processes.   
2. XenApp deploys the Independent/Flexcast Management Architecture for an unparalleled end-user experience.  
3. Easy technical training with a smooth initial setup.  
4. Easy application deployment and configuration.  
5. Best available application virtualization solution.    

Cons of XenApp    

1. Licensing costs may be high for some parties.  
2. It needs an in-built local printing option 
3. XenApp updates may present specific compatibility issues.    

Top 5 Differences Between XenDesktop and XenApp    

  • Virtualization    

Often confused as similar, both XenDesktop and XenApp are different. 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

Deployment is another instance where XenDesktop and XenApp differ in their methodology. 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.     

With XenDesktop, depending on their VDI type, a user has complete autonomy desktop configuration. 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. This is supported by the fact that 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.     

  • Use Cases   

Both XenApp and XenDesktop fulfill different organizational roles. XenDesktop is suitable 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 suits individuals who require remote access to any particular 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.     

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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.    

Which Solution Should You Choose?    

XenDesktop and 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 of the needs of small businesses.   

Still, do you need help in choosing between XenDesktop and XenApp? Contact our solutions Consultant by clicking the chat button below.