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XenDesktop 4 SP1 is the First Enterprise-Ready SHVD Platform

by Chris Wolf  |  July 29, 2010  |  4 Comments

With today’s update to the XenDesktop 4 Platinum edition suite, Citrix became the first vendor to meet all requirements in the Burton Group Server Hosted Virtual Desktop evaluation criteria.

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.

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Category: client-virtualization  

Tags: cat10  citrix  

Chris Wolf
Research VP
6 years at Gartner
19 years IT industry

Chris Wolf is a Research Vice President for the Gartner for Technical Professionals research team. He covers server and client virtualization and private cloud computing. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on XenDesktop 4 SP1 is the First Enterprise-Ready SHVD Platform

  1. Hello,

    This study is quite interesting, have you ever thought comparing View and XenDesktop with other competitors like Virtual Brigde ?

    I’d like to see the results of your evaluation for Virtual Bridge. I have tested those three solutions, and I give a real advantage to Virtual Bridge in terms of deployment speed (1 week to deploy a full featured clustered environment …) and administration simplicity.

  2. Michael says:


    Great findings but you have to pay Burton to see the criteria?! Not exactly open and transparent. I suspect the fact Citrix have released a client hypervisor may have helped their results even though it’s still beta code? How do we know?


  3. Chris Wolf says:

    Hi Mathieu,

    Virtual Bridges is on our to-do list, but we write profiles based on platforms of highest interest to our clients. We’re currently writing up Oracle VDI and Virtual Bridges is slated to be next. Feedback and interest from folks such as yourself is what helps us to prioritize research objectives.

  4. Chris Wolf says:

    Hi Michael,

    Actually we’ve been quite transparent with our criteria. It went through several rounds of review from each major vendor in the space. That was after extensive reviews by our client base. We have also publicly presented the criteria at several industry conferences. Thus far, it was presented at Citrix Synergy in May, and the Burton Group Catalyst conferences in June and July. Next we’ll present the criteria at VMworld North America and again at VMworld Europe. Citrix’s release of a beta client hypervisor did nothing to improve their results. We only count shipping products as part of any assessment. Thanks, and I hope to see you at one of the VMworld conferences if your interested in learning more about the criteria.

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