New Citrix VDI-in-a-Box release makes simple, affordable virtual desktops more personal


Image: By BiztechAfrica
New Citrix VDI-in-a-Box release makes simple, affordable virtual desktops more personal

Citrix has announced the release of Citrix VDI-In-a-Box 5.1, which just won the 2012 Best of Interop award for delivering a simple, affordable yet complete VDI solution with personalised end-user experiences.

The latest release of VDI-in-a-Box delivers complete end-user personalisation with personal vDisk technology that allows end-user applications and data to be preserved while giving IT the ability to manage only a single instance of the master image - saving time and cost.

This version also includes several feature enhancements to improve ease-of-use, flexibility, and performance such as optimisations for Google Earth, support for Active Directory failover, and beta support for the upcoming Windows 8 operating system.

The industry is rapidly moving from the PC era to the cloud era. Businesses of all sizes want to adopt desktop virtualisation and realise its benefits of driving efficiencies, adopting mobile workstyles and improving continuity, but many face tight budget and resource challenges. Citrix VDI-in-a-Box address these needs head on.


The VDI-in-a-Box design eliminates multiple moving parts that run up the cost and complexity of VDI. The all-in-one grid architecture runs on inexpensive off-the-shelf servers. Scaling simply involves adding another server, with nothing to rearchitect or reconfigure

“As customers are growing their deployments on VDI-in-a-Box, they are looking to increase the level of personalization offered to end-users without increasing complexity or costs,” says Sean Wainer, country manager Citrix South Africa. “With VDI-in-a-box 5.1, we offer customers a simle and affordable approach to delivering personalized virtual desktops, helping businesses of all sizes leverage the power of desktop virtualization to deliver employee mobility and flexibility.”

Citrix is building on the success of VDI-in-a-Box by further simplifying the purchase and rapid adoption of desktop virtualisation with these new additions:

·         Personalised Virtual Desktops: Customers no longer have to choose between consolidating management using desktop pools or providing end-users the flexibility to install their own applications, data and personalised settings. VDI-in-a-Box 5.1 eliminates the need to create separate static desktops to carry forward end-user customisation by coupling single-instance management with the ability to have individual user workspaces for their applications and data. 

·         Single Instance Management: Rather than juggling many persistent desktops, IT can maintain one master copy of desktop images while preserving the personalisation of user applications and data. This dramatically reduces maintenance efforts and cuts datacenter storage costs up to 90 percent.

·         Cost-effective Windows-as-a-Service with VDI: VDI-in-a-Box extends the Citrix vision of enabling Windows-as-a-Service and adds a simple, yet highly cost-effective VDI option based on VDI-in-a-Box to the successful Citrix Service Provider (CSP) portfolio of hosted-shared desktops with Citrix XenApp, and enterprise-class desktop virtualisation with XenDesktop.  A new reference architecture enables service providers to deliver VDI-based Desktops-as-a-Service at a fraction of the costs of other alternatives while complying with Microsoft licensing.

·         Better performance, Google Earth Support: VDI-in-a-Box 5.1 has several enhancements to improve performance in a variety of settings: Active Directory failover increases robustness; dual data stores to provide an option for faster tiers of storage such as SSDs for critical data; a grid-wide virtual IP provides another layer of built-in load balancing; and optimizations for Google Earth enable users to run the popular application seamlessly.

·         Simpler:  VDI-in-a-Box 5.1 continues to push the envelope on simplicity and automation with a host of new features that make deployment, upgrades, and management intuitive and fast. The new touchless desktop agent automatically propagates upgrades across all the images in a VDI-in-a-Box grid, thus saving administrator time. Other new features such as support for multiple virtual CPUs, and partitioning of user and computer domains increase compliance and flexibility.

·         Support for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 8 (Beta): VDI-in-a-Box 5.1 manages Windows 2008 R2, Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8-based virtual desktops, enabling customers to select the ideal virtual desktop environment based on compatibility and costs. All features of Windows 8 including the new Metro interface are fully supported. This feature is currently in beta pending the general availability of Windows 8.

·         Proactive Monitoring and Alerting: VDI-in-a-Box deployments can be easily monitored, tracking key health and performance metrics on the physical and virtual infrastructure helping to keep end users productive. Alerts can be configured to provide an “early-warning-system,” giving IT time to troubleshoot problems proactively, making configuration changes before users are even impacted. Using VDI-in-a-Box combined with Citrix GoToAssist, cloud-based monitoring and remote support tools, IT can monitor all VDI deployments and set up and securely access, over the internet, all VDI-in-a-Box servers from a PC, Mac or iPad using remote support.

Growing Partner Ecosystem

With the growing popularity of VDI-in-a-Box, partners are joining forces with Citrix to make virtual desktops easy with validated hardware appliances and configurations that eliminate guesswork and deliver predictable, repeatable performance at affordable prices.

·         Dell has updated its DVS Simplified appliance running VDI-in-a-Box to leverage the increased memory capabilities and I/O performance of the Dell PowerEdge R720 servers to support up to 129 users per appliance for a basic workload. The DVS Simplified appliance delivers virtual desktops for under $500 per desktop, including three years of Dell ProSupport. To complement DVS Simplified Appliance, Dell has verified several Dell Wyse zero and thin clients: Dell Wyse C10LE, Xenith, R10L, R90LW and T10, as Citrix Ready for VDI-in-a-Box.

·         HP released its client virtualisation reference architecture for VDI-in-a-Box, providing simple configurations for 50 or 100 users, and scalable to higher user count. The reference architecture provides a means for HP channel partners and customers to realize affordable solutions with an end-to-end VDI bundle with HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 servers, Citrix VDI-in-a-Box, and HP Thin Clients. All new HP Thin Clients are verified Citrix HDX Ready.

Extending Desktop Virtualisation Beyond VDI

Citrix has also made available a license migration path from VDI-in-a-Box to XenDesktop for customers that want to extend beyond VDI to leverage the full flexibility of XenDesktop. The end-user experience is consistent across both products as both VDI-in-a-Box and XenDesktop use the same Citrix HDX stack and Citrix Receiver.


VDI-in-a-Box is available for download on August 21, 2012.

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