PVS or MCS – What’s Your Decision Going to Be

Note: This blog is in reference to Citrix XenDesktop 5.0 ONLY.

Note: The following link contains the  latest discussion between PVS and MCS (https://virtualfeller.com/2016/05/17/pvs-vs-mcs-part-1-resource-delivery-options/)

The decision between using Provisioning Services or Machine Creation Services is based on many things, with a few being discussed previously:

  1. Big Picture
  2. Operations
  3. Resource Requirements

Let’s say you’ve gone through these discussions and are still trying to determine what approach you should take. Personally, I like to use decision trees, like the following:

By answering these questions, you will get a better idea of what is most appropriate:

  1. Hosted VDI Desktops Only: Larger enterprise environments are often more complex, in terms of end user requirements. The complex user requirements cannot be completely met with Hosted VDI desktops, which require the organization to expand into different options. Using Provisioning Services for these architectures is recommended due to the ability to deliver images more than Hosted VDI desktops.
  2. Dedicated VDI Desktops: If there is a user requirement for dedicated desktops, there is an increased recommendation to use Machine Creation Services or to use installed images.
  3. Large Boot/Logon Storms: Boot and logon storms create massive IO activity on the storage infrastructure, requiring greater levels of IOPS. For larger deployments with a large boot/logon storm, Provisioning Services is recommended due to IOPS savings.
  4. Blade PCs: Certain users require the performance of a Blade PC, while still secure within the data center. Because Blade PCs are standalone hardware devices, Machine Creation Services cannot be used.
  5. SAN: Provisioning Services has the flexibility to work with and without a SAN infrastructure. However, Machine Creation Services becomes more challenging without a shared storage infrastructure, like a SAN. If a shared storage solution is not in scope or is too costly for the environment, Provisioning Services is a better option.
  6. Change Control Processes: Maintaining Provisioning Services desktop images requires proper processes depending on the type of update required (hotfix versus network driver update). Smaller environments will most likely not have processes in place. Maintaining a Machine Creation Services image is often seen as easier.

What did you come up with? Surprised? Or is it what you expected? If you want the full breakdown on deciding between the two options, then please refer to the recently released version of the “Planning Guide: Desktop Image Delivery” which was recently added to the XenDesktop Design Handbook.

If you are new to the handbook, then I suggest you read about it from Thomas’s blog discussing how to get the handbook for offline use.

Daniel – Lead Architect
XenDesktop Design Handbook

9 thoughts on “PVS or MCS – What’s Your Decision Going to Be”

  1. Right now the decision is also partly whether you want to roll out Win7 as the OS or not, as MCS doesn’t support KMS. There is a work-around, but it’s fiddly.

    For me it also comes down to performance – PVS is still the choice as your Windows PVS server caches the images very well, thereby reducing the performance requirements of your storage thereby reducing the cost 🙂

    MCS is fine for small deployments eg single server, that also want to run WinXP.

    My 2c worth… Regards, Dan


  2. Hello Daniel,
    I’ve read something that confused me: Is that right that MCS doesn’t support Microsoft MAK/KMS technology? If so, how am I supposed to correctly setup my environment to work with Microsoft VDA licenses and so on?


    1. Ok, seaching in Citrix Forums I’ve noticed that there was published a statement from Citrix about KMS licensing (MAK not supported so far…). But the problem seems to have no solution so far regarding Office 2010 activation through KMS.
      We already have a solution on PVS.


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