Making an Educated Decision on View 5.0 or XenDesktop 5.5

I want to start this post saying that I often try to focus my blogging on the technical aspects of VDI, without putting too much focus on pricing or market. If you are an avid reader of my blog you know exactly what I am talking about. However, discussions about best product, best protocol or most aggressive ROI are often present in my circles.

I personally think that both Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View are great products. I also think that both companies have more chances to successed than other VDI vendors; not because they have better products, but because they own the virtualization stack. Citrix and VMware have the ability to create triggers that will benefit their own solutions. Examples of triggers are IntelliCahe from Citrix or View Composer and CBRC from VMware.

When discussing ROI there is need to pay attention to use cases. Citrix may have the most full featured product, but VMware may provide the best ROI; or the other way around. On the other hand, VMware View may not be able to meet a specific use case while Citrix XenDesktop does.

Below you will find a compilation of features and pricing points for both XenDesktop 5.5 and VMware View 5.0. The prices below are the suggested retail prices, without any discounts.

I noticed that Citrix like to expose every component of their solution as a feature that can be added as part of different editions of the product. VMware on the other hand don’t market all the features as if they were individual components for each edition. None of the vendors is right or wrong, but I would like to align these features.

    Despite terminology, technology and marketing differences both products have comparable features. The exceptions are Citrix EdgeSight for Virtual Desktops and Password Manager included in the XenDesktop Platinum version, and VMware vShield Endpoint included in VMware View Premier.

  • Desktop Delivery Controller and Provisioning Services are similar to View Manager and View Composer. Technologies are different but end-result is similar.
  • Citrix HDX 3D for Professional Graphics extends desktop virtualization to advanced users of CAD/CAM and engineering applications. This is not required in VMware View as PCoIP already include the enhancements.
  • Citrix Access Gateway provides secure remote access. VMware View Security Server provide similar solution.
  • Repeater accelerate, control and optimize service traffic delivery to branch and mobile users. VMware View PCoIP protocol acceleration is done via a Riberbed appliance. For most use cases acceleration is not required, only WAN links with very low bandwidth.
  • XenDesktop and VMware ThinApp are technically different but both provide similar end-result  in the VDI context. VMware’s Appblast technology should close the gap allowing HTML5 application remoting.
  • Citrix Profile Management and VMware Persona Management also have similar end-result.
  • VMware View 5.0 Media Services provide similar functionality to XenDesktop EasyCall.
  • XenDesktop StorageLink is comparable to the VMware vCenter suite included with VMware View.
  • VMware View Local mode is different than XenClient but both try to achieve similar end-result.
  • VMware View ships with vSphere and XenDesktop ships with XenServer.
  • Citrix EdgeSight Continuous and comprehensive visibility into application performance at the desktop.
  • VMware vShield Endpoint  strengthens security improving performance for endpoint protection by orders of magnitude. vShield Endpoint offloads antivirus and anti-malware agent processing to a dedicated secure virtual appliance delivered by VMware partners. vShield also include RSA DLP (Data Loss Prevention) that helps to classify and block data with 80+ policies for data classification.



The pricing above is represented in terms of concurrent users and are RRP (Recommended Retail Price). Both VMware and Citrix are know for selling well discounted licenses, especially in swaps and trade-ins.

If you choose Citrix XenDesktop but would like to run it on top of VMware hypervizor it’s necessary to add vSphere Desktop edition licenses, at RRP of $65.00.

With the information above you should be able to make a more educated decision on what platform to jump on based on pricing, feature set and ROI. Either way, I recommend you to run a Proof of Concept with both solutions before jumping into the next stage – the Pilot.

I am planning to talk about VDI Pilots in the near future.


IMPORTANT UPDATE: Since the time I wrote this article Citrix has announced the integration of technology the acquired from RingCube into the Suite. Citrix has also split even more the name of their features making it even harder to understand what products are behind the solution being offered. You can check out the new features by edition here.

While VMware announced project Octopus, Citrix included XenVault on the Enterprise and Platinum editions.


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    • Lee on 10/28/2011 at 9:17 am


    Always like your blog post… Some things I would like to clarify:
    VMware does not have a product that compares to Provisioning Services as this is a unique product that many do not understand. The component that compares to Composer is Machine Creation Services (MCS) from Citrix. Also you did not mention anything about Desktop Director from Citrix, a great helpdesk solution included with all versions of XD. The vShield component will be fantastic once security vendors buy in to it, RSA has because they are an EMC company and EMC owns a lot of VMware. Making a decision based on this blog would not be wise but at least you have started the one thing no one has and that is break down the components/features of each vendor and align them.

  1. @Lee
    Thanks for the feedback.

    PVS indeed is a different technology not implemented in VMware View. However, the end-result produced is exactly the same as MCS or Linked Clones. As I mentioned in my post, I’m not comparing technology, just feature set. I recommend testing and piloting both solutions.

    Disclose here, I work for EMC. I personally never heard anyone saying that RSA DLP is in vShield only because EMC is the major VMware shareholder. I see plenty of benefits in implementing Data Loss Prevention technology for VDI.

    Citrix Desktop Director was not listed as a feature when I looked at Citrix website at the time I was writing this article, but you are correct.

    Thanks for your comments

    • Jeremy pack on 10/31/2011 at 1:37 pm

    Interesting article, but

    >>Desktop Delivery Controller and Provisioning Services are similar to View Manager and View Composer.
    >>Technologies are different but end-result is similar.
    You really think so have you tried updating a couple 1000s VMware linked clones, what storage architecture did you use.
    PVS behaves very differently on image updates and its impact on storage in general.


    • Victor on 11/02/2011 at 5:46 am

    Nice comparison! But I have one question: are you sure that the prices for Citrix listed here are for concurrent license? AFAIK they have 2 different types of licensing – “concurrent” and “named user”, and the first one is almost twice expensive..
    Also, price for View Enterprise is a bit larger – $150 instead of $140 you’ve listed (at least according to 🙂 ).

    • Vadim on 11/09/2011 at 11:56 am

    Thank you very much indeed for this article. It is very helpful. Now we really think about what should we choose, View 5.0 or XenDesktop 5.5. In my case we have 1000 PC.

  2. @Vadim
    Thanks for the feedback.

    • Vadim on 11/15/2011 at 11:26 pm

    Hi Andre,
    there is very interesting comparison from Citrix (for whom who are still choosing) which I found
    Possibly it will be useful for colleagues.
    Andre you wrote that planning to talk about VDI Pilots.

  3. @Vadim
    If you are asking if I have wrote the article on VDI Pilots… the answer is No.
    Didn’t have time yet. Will add to the To Do List.


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