What is Citrix Server? Citrix created its unique lineup of desktop virtualization to deliver applications and resources to mobile and desktops from a central server.

Citrix Server uses Microsoft Remote Desktop Services to bring their customers a virtual desktop to remote staff and other users.

Citrix is a company that helps workforces access desktops and applications remotely and securely through a remote server as if the layout were on your computer (We are Philadelphia’s Diamond-Validated Citrix Service Provider). Citrix makes use of a WorkSpace software plugin that allows a remote connection to enable a virtual desktop experience while working securely at the host company's location. 

Thin client and virtualization leader

Server-based computing is what has led Citrix Managed Services Providers and the Citrix company industry leaders. Server-based computing is also known as thin client technology. But, what is thin client technology?

Thin client technology is when a computer runs from resources stored on a central server instead of a local hard drive. Thin clients work by establishing a remote connection to the server. All relevant data and applications are stored using the server's memory and resources rather than the end-users resources.

Thin client vs. fat client

While the thin client manages resources remotely on another central server, the fat client services are run locally on the user's desktop, tablet, or phone. With this in mind, necessary resources are used on the end-user equipment, taking up memory, critical installed applications, and weaker security. The companies' information is only as safe as the end-user decides to make his equipment.

What are Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops?

Citrix Virtual Apps is the method of delivery Citrix uses for their remote server interface and delivery. Further, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops applies a customized version of Microsoft Remote Desktop Services to create a virtual desktop using a virtual desktop infrastructure. In addition, any products deliver secure applications and desktop resources from a central server. Still, none are as powerful, safe, and easy to use as Citrix Server.

With Citrix, most processing power and storage happens on the company's servers rather than the user's home computer. The server stores and opens applications, files are saved remotely, freeing up the user's resources for other uses. Also, the user can access the vast library and information of a company server, rather than just what they have personally saved.

The user can search for information on the company server. When found, the user delivers it to the user as if it is on their computer.

In thin clients, processing information takes place remotely, often on a server or data center rather than locally. Rather than installing apps and documents on your computer for work use, you only need the Citrix receiver.

Citrix Presentation Server and Citrix MetaFrame

Citrix Virtual Apps is also just one of Citrix's latest product line managed service provider services. Other applications include Citrix Presentation Server and Citrix MetaFrame, which came before that. Also, Citrix designed these solutions in joint development projects with Microsoft with their RDS and WTS clients.

Citrix works with Microsoft to develop their Windows Terminal Server (WTS). Later, Remote Desktop Services (RDS) allows Citrix to maintain a degree of functionality they have used for themselves. They have used this functionality to create Citrix MetaFrame, Citrix Presentation Server, and Citrix XenApp.

Citrix Virtual Apps position themselves to provide a much more robust user experience for Windows Server and RDS components, including Windows Terminal Server.

One of Citrix thin client products' latest versions is Citrix Virtual Apps and exists for new versions of Microsoft Windows Server, including Microsoft Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019.

Citrix Virtual Apps began as Citrix WinFrame. In turn, it became MetaFrame. Next, it became the Presentation Server before advancing to XenApp, and finally Citrix Virtual Apps, ever-changing and ever-improving towards more robust products. Like many quality products, several companies still use previous versions, such as Citrix XenApp 7.x. Many are also using XenApp 6 and 6.5 despite Citrix having ended support for most older versions. While they may be dated, even older versions are remarkably efficient for many businesses' needs.

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A Citrix managed service provider will configure central servers to host applications and resources in a Citrix application delivery setup.

Citrix Virtual Apps manage to keep the app isolated from the rest of the operating system and deliver a new OS to its screen. The client's device does not need an actual app installed—the information needed to configure everything stored on the server. The user's keystrokes and mouse occur on the server's end, not the users. The user only sees the result on their screen.

However, the client's device does need the Citrix Receiver installed for the server to grant access to any of the hosted resources from a windows server. When this is necessary, all other users' computers have to share the resources of the server.

Citrix Virtual Apps And Desktops manages to create a complete virtual computer screen experience from the company to the remote clients' device. Each user logged in has access to their own computer experience as if they were on location using the company's OS and desktop. There are no shared resources as you are essentially using a virtual desktop no different than if you were on site.

What exactly is Citrix Desktop?

The term 'Citrix Virtual Desktop' is the common terminology for the virtual desktop experience created through the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops environment. Virtual Desktop is a virtual application created by Citrix that was formerly named XenDesktop.

One great benefit of Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops is their expansive offering of applications, end security, and machines regardless of the OS or interface. Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops manages several components, including:

  • Delivery Controller: The delivery controller is the central layer used to distribute desktops and applications, connection management, and access management.
  • Citrix Gateway: The gateway allows a single point of access for users to access the system from outside the corporate security layer.
  • Citrix Studio: Citrix Studio helps manage delivery groups, connections, and catalogs.
  • Citrix StoreFront: This is the older version of Citrix Workspace. StoreFront allows subscribers access to content, ensuring consistency across all connected devices.
  • Citrix Director: Director is a tool for IT staff and helps desks provide support, monitor the system, and troubleshooting tasks.
  • Workspace configuration: Configures services to be able to integrate with Workspace, allowing custom workspaces, URLs, and specifies external connectivity for resource locations used by subscribers.
  • Citrix license management: This allows the controller to communicate to manage licensed files.
  • Citrix StoreFront: StoreFront is an earlier version of Workspace. Storefront provides access to desktops and data, ensuring a consistent experience on all connected devices.
Essential functions of a Citrix desktop

Typically, working remotely involves running applications and storing data on your computer. What Citrix Desktop does is run everything on a remote host. With a remote host, you can use a virtual host on a series of devices remotely.

The user's only requirement is to run the Citrix Receiver, a software application managing the remote virtual desktop experience on your local device. The current version of the Citrix Receiver is the Citrix Workspace App. However, computers can still run older versions. The more senior Citrix Receiver is still fully compatible with newer versions of the Citrix infrastructure while managing the updated capabilities.

Management and control

Citrix Desktops provides management and control operations in two places: Citrix Director and Citrix Studio. Citrix Director is where administration, reporting, and monitoring happen. Citrix Studio is where your Citrix managed service provider sets up and deploys the virtual desktop environment and applications.

What is Citrix Workspace?

Citrix Workspace is the ultimate result of a conversion of all former Citrix products into one unified solution. Citrix Workspace is a cloud-based end-user experience over a unified interface. Workspace allows users access to the entire selection of apps and content on your company's server from anywhere they choose to log in.

Citrix worked tirelessly over the years to ensure that its entire selection of products looks and operates the same across all platforms. They also offer a seamless experience no matter the location or device. Once Citrix accomplished this, they chose to rebrand their services suite under one umbrella called Citrix Workspace.

The Citrix Workspace vision brings all apps, whether SaaS, virtual, mobile, Linux, or Windows content and devices, whether PC or mobile, into one unified cloud-based interface. The new Citrix Workspace even includes non-Citrix resources such as SaaS apps.

The result of Citrix Workspace is one powerful suite offering a complete workspace solution. There is no need for outside integration, everything you need in one set of tools to suit your needs.

What are the benefits of Citrix?
  1. You are not stuck with any one cloud provider.
    At the Citrix Synergy event in 2020, they announced that they are bringing flexibility into the Workspace by giving customers more choice. The announcement made to the public said customers would be able to have workloads in one or multiple public clouds. The cloud choice does not matter whether it be Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Amazon AWS, IBM Cloud, or even Oracle Cloud. This selection is possible while keeping everything partially on-premises with Citrix Hypervisor, Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, or Nutanix AHV.

  2. Full mobile support
    Citrix has managed to integrate XenMobile, now named Endpoint Management with Citrix Workspace, to support EMM, including MCN, MAM, and MDN. This also features a single sign-on to enroll devices, install and launch mobile apps.

    Another benefit is Citrix Workspace has context-aware security and supports progressive disclosure. This security feature will only display mobile apps within the Workspace and not within the web or other location. As of this writing, Citrix Secure Hub is still in use for mobile apps. Still, Citrix is currently working to integrate this into Workspace as well.

  3. Contextual access to data and apps
    Citrix Workspace allows open contextual applications based on your data in addition to all the values already mentioned.

    With Citrix Workspace, you can open your file directly into a provisioned virtual app. Also, Workspace leverages existing ShareFile features. For example, suppose no relevant application is available. In that case, Citrix Workspace will find a way to open the file within the default viewer.

    All in all, what you can see is that Citrix is best at making the very complicated very simple. Also, they manage to do this while making everything more secure, more user-friendly, and an overall better value. With a Citrix managed service provider, it is hard to go wrong.