How we decided between Kaviza, XenDesktop or XenApp


I’ve been absent from the blogging world for some time due to summer holiday and working on two different projects with two new technologies (Kaviza and CloudStack). In the future, I’m might be able to talk about CloudStack items, but today the focus is on Kaviza.

The project I’ve been involved with is focused on delivering desktops for 200 concurrent users. We had three options: XenDesktop pooled desktops, XenApp hosted shared desktops, or Kaviza pooled desktops. Here is how we made our decision to go with Kaviza.

Skillset

The first thing we quickly realized was that the IT staff has no experience with a XenApp infrastructure. XenApp isn’t rocket science, but it does require a different way of looking at the desktop and managing the desktop because your users share the same running instance of the OS. For those of you who work with XenApp, you know what I’m talking about. Because of the required skillset to implement XenApp, this was the first option we removed from consideration.

Resource Requirements

The organization isn’t sitting on piles of cash, so we wanted to pick either XenDesktop or Kaviza that would require the fewest number of servers. First, we assumed:

  1. Expectations are that each user will required roughly 1.5GB of RAM
  2. Each user will be granted 2 vCPUs, although utilization will remain minimal

But guess what? The hardware requirements didn’t change

XenDesktop Kaviza
Server Specs VMs
Server 1 8 cores

96 GB RAM

  • VM 1: SQL Database / License Server (2vCPU,2GB RAM)
  • VM 2-51: Windows 7 Virtual Desktop (2vCPU, 1.5 GB RAM)
  • VM 1: Kaviza kMGR VM (1vCPU, 1 GB RAM)
  • VM 2-51: Windows 7 Virtual Desktop (2vCPU, 1.5 GB RAM)
Server 2 8 cores

96 GB RAM

  • VM 1: SQL Database / License Server (2vCPU,2GB RAM)
  • VM 2-51: Windows 7 Virtual Desktop (2vCPU, 1.5 GB RAM)
  • VM 1: Kaviza kMGR VM (1vCPU, 1 GB RAM)
  • VM 2-51: Windows 7 Virtual Desktop (2vCPU, 1.5 GB RAM)
Server 3 8 cores

96 GB RAM

  • VM 1: XenDesktop Controller / Web Interface (2vCPU, 2GB RAM)
  • VM 2-51: Windows 7 Virtual Desktop (2vCPU, 1.5 GB RAM)
  • VM 1: Kaviza kMGR VM (1vCPU, 1 GB RAM)
  • VM 2-51: Windows 7 Virtual Desktop (2vCPU, 1.5 GB RAM)
Server 4 8 cores

96 GB RAM

  • VM 1: XenDesktop Controller / Web Interface (2vCPU, 2GB RAM)
  • VM 2-51: Windows 7 Virtual Desktop (2vCPU, 1.5 GB RAM)
  • VM 1: Kaviza kMGR VM (1vCPU, 1 GB RAM)
  • VM 2-51: Windows 7 Virtual Desktop (2vCPU, 1.5 GB RAM)
Server 5 8 cores

96 GB RAM

  • VM 1-50: Windows 7 Virtual Desktop (2vCPU, 1.5 GB RAM)
  • VM 1: Kaviza kMGR VM (1vCPU, 1 GB RAM)
  • VM 2-51: Windows 7 Virtual Desktop (2vCPU, 1.5 GB RAM)

For XenDesktop, we have 4 VMs dedicated for management activities. For Kaviza, we have 5 (one for each server). Remember, we have 5 servers because we need one extra server in the event of a server failure. Based on our estimates, XenDesktop and Kaviza will require the same hardware footprint for 200 users.

Infrastructure Requirements

The final aspect we focused on was the infrastructure requirements. This might sound similar to the previous, but it is slightly different. By infrastructure, we mean the systems required to support XenDesktop or Kaviza. For XenDesktop, we have to build a SQL database, XenDesktop controllers, license server and Web Interface servers. Many of these items are automated to make installing and configuring easier, but with Kaviza, this functionality is contained within the Kaviza Manager. That means fewer technologies to support. And for this particular organization, that was the key criteria for going with Kaviza.

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13 thoughts on “How we decided between Kaviza, XenDesktop or XenApp”

  1. What about the storage piece comparison? Kaviza can use local storage just fine. That wouldn’t be the case in the XenDesktop realm as you’d need atleast shared storage to ensure high availability of the server / control pieces, would you not? (SQL, Web, etc).

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  2. For the virtual desktops, both options will use local storage. However, we have a shared storage solution for other aspects of the environment we can leverage for other vms if needed. The only one we would use it for would be SQL.

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  3. Nice article – congrats. What about each product’s feature set? I assume, there ‘re no advanced requirements like specialized VDI policies or enhanced multi media support (Citrix HDX)?

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  4. where are the feature comparison ?
    protocol? high lantecy performance ?
    graphics/multimedia ?

    availability of the support personnel, support community?

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  5. Keep in mind that the added cost of all the extra hardware might be worth the investment of training someone on Hosted Shared Desktops (XenApp) technologies. Also note that there isn’t a trade up path from VDI in a Box (Kaviza) to XenDesktop Enterprise or Platinum. If you think you might want to use the rest of the XenDesktop solution some day you should go with the VDI edition so that you can trade up to Enterprise or Platinum later.

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  6. Are there any lessons learned that you could share with us? We are deploying 150 users and have experienced response time issues and application freezing, although our infrastructure looks the same as yours

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  7. Love the way you think. Good thing Citrix now owns Kaviza (ViaB). One thing that got me scratching my head is the local disk usage on the hypervisor–are we talking xen or vmw? Also, will ViaB do high availability without shared storage?

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