Citrix FlexCast offers a complete set of application and desktop virtualization technologies that have been combined into a single integrated solution. Because each FlexCast model has different advantages and disadvantages, it is important that the right model is chosen for each user group within the organization.
There are six FlexCast models available, the advantages and disadvantages of each model are described below:
- Hosted shared – With the hosted shared FlexCast model, multiple user desktops are hosted on a single server-based operating system and provisioned using Machine Creation Services or Provisioning Services. The hosted shared desktop model provides a low-cost, high-density solution, however applications must be compatible with a multi-user server based operating system. In addition, because multiple users are sharing a single operating system, users are restricted from performing actions that negatively affect other users, for example installing applications, changing system settings and restarting the operating system. There is also the potential that a single user could consume an unfair share of resources, which may negatively affect other users. The hosted shared FlexCast model is provided by Citrix XenDesktop in combination with Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS).
- Hosted VDI – The hosted VDI FlexCast model provides each user with a desktop operating system. Hosted VDI desktops are less scalable than hosted shared desktops because each user requires their own operating system. However, hosted VDI desktops remove the requirement that applications must be multi-user aware and support server based operating systems. In addition, the hosted VDI model provides administrators with a granular level of control over the number of virtual processors and memory assigned to each desktop. The hosted VDI model is provided by Citrix XenDesktop, and offers the following sub categories:
- Random / Non-Persistent – Desktops are based on a single master image and provisioned using Machine Creation Services or Provisioning Services. Users are dynamically connected to one of the desktops in the pool each time they logon. Changes to the desktop image are lost upon reboot.
- Static / Non-Persistent – Desktops are based on a single master image and provisioned using Machine Creation Services or Provisioning Services. Users are allocated a virtual desktop on first access. Once assigned, users will always be connected to the same virtual desktop. Changes to the desktop image are lost upon reboot.
- Static Persistent – Desktops are based on a single master image and provisioned using Machine Creation Services or Provisioning Services. Users are allocated a virtual desktop on first access. Once assigned, users will always be connected to the same virtual desktop. Changes to the desktop are stored in a personal vDisk and retained between reboots. Desktops with a personal vDisk cannot be shared between multiple users; each user requires their own desktop. If high availability is required, the personal vDisk must be stored on shared storage.
- Remote PC – Physical desktops that have already been deployed. These desktops must be managed manually or with 3rd party desktop management tools. Citrix Virtual Desktop Handbook Page 19
- Streamed VHD – Desktops are based on a single master image and provisioned using Provisioning Services. The streamed VHD FlexCast model allows Windows XP, 7 and 8 desktops to be run locally on the user’s desktop computer. Streamed VHD is a great solution for high-end workstations because it allows them to leverage local processing power. Streamed VHD requires a LAN connection to be in place between the desktop and the provisioning servers and changes to the desktops are lost upon reboot.
- Local VM – Windows XP, 7, and 8 desktops running locally within a hypervisor. The virtual desktop image is completely delivered to the hypervisor to allow for offline connectivity. Citrix XenClient is used to provide the Local VM FlexCast model.
- On demand apps – The On-Demand Apps FlexCast model does not provide users with a virtual desktop; instead Windows applications are centralized in the datacenter, and instantly delivered via a high-speed protocol (requires connection) or streamed (offline support) via Microsoft App-V.
The following table compares the different FlexCast models available:
- There are multiple FlexCast models available that are an equal match, for example VDI: pooled random (Provisioning Services) and VDI: streamed (Machine Creation Services). In this situation, refer back to the results from the capabilities assessment. If you already have skills or experience with one model over another then this is a good reason for selecting it.
- As you can see in the FlexCast capability table above, the hosted VDI and hosted shared FlexCast models can be used in the majority of situations. The streamed VHD and local VM FlexCast models should only be used on an exception basis. By reducing the number of FlexCast models required, you will help to reduce deployment time and simplify management.
- It may not be possible to select a FlexCast model which is a perfect match for your user group, for example you can’t provide users with a desktop that is highly secure and offers complete personalization at the same time. In these situations, select the FlexCast model which is the closest match.
- There are only three FlexCast models that meet the needs of a high criticality user group (backup desktops available) – none of which allow for complete personalization. If a high-criticality user group also requires the ability to personalize their desktop they could be provided with a pool of backup desktops (hosted shared, pooled, streamed) in addition to their primary desktop. Although these desktops would not include customizations made to their primary desktop, they would allow users to access core applications such as mail, Internet and Microsoft Office.