The evaluation criteria was developed over a five month period. During that time, we worked with numerous early server-hosted virtual desktop (SHVD) adopters, as well as the key vendors in the space. In the end, vendors were supportive of the criteria in spite of the fact that not one met all of our requirements. The reason for the support was simple – customers were telling vendors they needed the same elements that we identified in the criteria.
We evaluate and score SHVD platforms across three stratifications:
- Required: absolute necessities
- Preferred: important features that result in better experience, operational management, and improved TCO
- Optional: use-case driven features needed in select deployment scenarios
The assessment is broken down across major areas of focus such as user experience, management, and security. I last blogged about our criteria when it was first released in May. At that time, no platform had all 52 features we consider requirements for the typical enterprise.
The initial XenDesktop 4 release lacked:
- Role-based access controls (RBACs) for delegation of administrative duties
- Administrative change logging capabilities to provide an audit trail for all administrative actions
- Enterprise-class support (3 year minimum) for all products in the XenDesktop 4 Platinum portfolio
Among other improvements, the above three shortcomings were addressed in XenDesktop 4 SP1 release. You can read the updated support policy here. Burton Group extensively tested the above features in our lab to ensure that they met our requirements, and the result was a platform that we can recommend for large-scale enterprise environments.
The XenDesktop 4 SP1 scorecard is shown below.
As you can see, while meeting our essential requirements, XenDesktop 4 SP1 meets 76% of our preferred features and there is still room for improvement. Areas we would like to see improved include:
- Management consolidation: Citrix must reduce the number of consoles required to manage the XenDesktop environment
- Management complexity for very large environments: In Citrix’s reference architecture, each XenDesktop 4 Desktop Delivery Controller (DDC) runs 5,000 desktops. Citrix recommends that organizations build separate management domains to horizontally scale XenDesktop management, placing greater challenges on areas such as configuration management.
Like any product, there’s always room for improvement. Regardless, I’d like to congratulate Citrix for listening to the needs of the enterprise customer. Today Citrix delivered a product that customers can confidently deploy in large-scale environments while satisfying all of their key SHVD platform requirements.