Differences Between Citrix XenApp and Citrix XenDesktop

Many people perceive that Citrix XenApp is for delivering hosted apps while XenDesktop is for delivering hosted desktops to remote users. Let me burst the bubble here as XenApp is also capable of delivering full desktops. Citrix is partly to be blamed for this misconception because their naming scheme certainly encourages this perception.

However, the major difference between these two Citrix products lies in the type of desktops they deliver. XenApp delivers a one-to-many Windows Server machine that is shared by multiple users while XenDesktop delivers a one-to-one Windows desktop machine which is used by a single user.

In this blog, we will take you through some of the major differences between the two Citrix products. But, before we proceed to discuss the differences, let’s have an idea about the common features that both these desktop virtualization apps share.

Similarities Between XenApp and XenDesktop

Since both of these apps are products of Citrix, the company has developed both the products around a common architecture:

  • Citrix HDX protocol is used by both, XenApp and XenDesktop, for secure and high-performance remote display.
  •  XenDesktop  and XenApp both leverage Citrix Receiver to provide remote access to Windows workspaces.
  •  XenApp and XenDesktop are based on the same Flexcast Management Architecture (FMA), allowing both to be managed from the single Citrix Studio management console.

Major Differences Between XenApp and XenDesktop

As we already know,  XenApp and XenDesktop majorly differ in the execution environment, i.e.  XenDesktop provides access to hosted resources for a single user on a Windows client machine (e.g. Windows 7 or 8), while XenApp enables access to hosted resources for multiple users on a Windows server machine such as Windows Server 2008R2 or 2012. Let’s take a look at some other major differences between the two workspace virtualization tools:

  •  XenApp allows users to share the GPU, CPU, memory, and disk resources with all the other users on the same server. Whereas, XenDesktop provides its users with their own private GPU, CPU, memory, and disk, using a hypervisor that enables allocating, isolating, and protecting these resources on a per VM basis.
  •  With XenApp, users get access to all the applications installed on the XenApp server when they log in. However, XenDesktop users can use only the apps installed on their individual desktops.
  •  XenApp cannot offer full personalization like XenDesktop, which enables users to customize their desktop entirely, including one-off apps and plug-ins.
  •  In terms of look and feel, XenApp offers an interface that resembles that of Windows Server while XenDesktop users get an experience similar to Windows desktop.

Both XenApp and XenDesktop are great options for Windows workspace modernization. With Unidesk’s new application layering innovations, both XenDesktop and XenApp can meet users’ needs for workspace mobility and flexibility, in addition to meeting the organization’s needs for security, compliance, operational and capital cost control, and manageability. Therefore, the decision to choose XenApp and XenDesktop depends on a number of criteria, including what infrastructure the enterprise has invested in, what apps the enterprise have in its environment and what are its users’ requirements. Get a nuanced understanding of both the technologies before you invest on workspace virtualization infrastructure.

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