Citrix-Unidesk FAQ

Citrix-Unidesk FAQ

What is the acquisition news?

Citrix announced on January 3, 2017 that it has acquired Unidesk. Unidesk's industry-leading application packaging and image management solution for virtual and cloud workspaces will be integrated into Citrix's suite of workspace delivery solutions, offering customers unequaled capabilities for securing, mobilizing, and optimizing applications and data. As part of the acquisition, Unidesk's R&D, support, and solution architecture teams have joined Citrix in similar roles.

What does Unidesk offer?

Unidesk offers an application packaging, application lifecycle management, and image management solution designed for modern mobile workspaces, including VDI and traditional server-based computing (terminal server), both on-premises and in the cloud.

Why do customers buy Unidesk?

Unidesk is used by more than 1,400 customers around the world in a variety of industries, including healthcare, insurance, finance, manufacturing, education, and government. IT benefits from much faster application packaging; the elimination of gold image sprawl and related patching inefficiencies; error-free, install-free application management; reduced server and storage resource requirements; and the agility to deliver apps to different hypervisors and clouds without costly re-packaging or re-imaging. End users benefit from greatly accelerated access to new applications and application updates; faster remediation of common application patching and delivery issues; and a more personal, productive computing experience.

How does Unidesk work?

Unidesk is the original inventor of application layering, a next-generation approach to application lifecycle management. Layering uses file system and registry virtualization technology to overcome the many challenges with agent-based PC software distribution tools and isolation-based application virtualization tools.

With Unidesk, IT administrators can package all Windows desktop applications and operating systems as independent virtual disks with just an ordinary installation. The virtual disk "layers" can then be assigned in any order or combination to any number of users or machines, either on-premises or in the cloud. Unidesk merges the individual layers together to make the applications and operating systems appear locally installed, without ever having to rerun the installation procedures.

Layering is much faster and easier and is compatible with more applications than application virtualization. It is also much faster and easier, more reliable, and more resource-efficient than agent-based software distribution tools that require repetitive reinstallations.

How does Unidesk relate to Citrix?

Unidesk simplifies application and image management in both Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop environments, while also accelerating application delivery and expanding the use cases for both Citrix workspace delivery solutions. Unidesk extends Citrix with:

  1. Real-time application delivery for Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop. Unidesk Elastic Layering attaches applications at user login to both XenDesktop virtual desktops and XenApp shared hosted desktops based on Active Directory user and group membership. This enables XenDesktop to offer a persistent VDI experience without having to allocate a full virtual desktop for every user, since each user's application layers and personal user layer can be attached at login to non-persistent desktops. Elastic Layering also works with XenApp, enabling users logging onto the same XenApp server to have different apps delivered to their sessions. This unique innovation gives customers more options when choosing between traditional published desktops (XenApp) or VDI desktops (XenDesktop). XenApp shared hosted desktops that previously could only deliver a small subset of apps can now be expanded to 100% of apps and 100% of users.
  2. Simplified image management for Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop. Unidesk is the only layering technology that can package every component of a Windows workspace - even the OS itself - as a virtual disk "layer." This unique capability can be used to completely eliminate image management in Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop environments. IT administrators can combine the same Windows OS layer with any combination of app layers to create standard Windows images. No matter how many different Citrix silos or server configurations are needed, the OS layer and all app layers only have to be managed, patched, and updated once. Unidesk will automatically recompose the images with any new layer versions and update the XenApp or XenDesktop environments through integration with Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS) and Machine Creation Services (MCS).
  3. Full support for Citrix XenServer. The Unidesk virtual appliance can be installed, hosted, and run natively on Citrix XenServer. Unidesk also offers this same full support for Citrix's hyperconverged infrastructure partner Nutanix and the Nutanix AHV hypervisor.

How does Unidesk relate to the Citrix-Microsoft partnership?

Unidesk is the application management solution that will enable Citrix and Microsoft to more efficiently and securely deliver apps, desktops and data from Azure using Citrix Cloud. Unidesk has been certified as Azure-Ready, been made available in the Azure Marketplace, can be hosted in Azure, and has a connector to publish layers into Azure. Applications packaged with Unidesk for use on-premises can be delivered from Azure just by changing the Unidesk platform connector, giving customers an easy on-ramp to the cloud and making their end-user computing environment future-proof.

In the coming months, Citrix will explain in more detail how this existing integration with Azure will be extended in support of using Citrix XenDesktop to access Windows 10 desktops hosted in Azure and Citrix XenApp to access shared hosted desktops and published applications in Azure.

Will Citrix continue to support VMware customers who use Unidesk?

Yes. One of the reasons that Citrix acquired Unidesk is its unique ability - introduced with Unidesk 4 - to package apps once and deliver them to any hypervisor or cloud, including VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Nutanix AHV, Citrix XenServer, Azure, and Amazon. Many VMware vSphere customers use VMware Horizon for desktop virtualization alongside Unidesk for application management. Citrix intends to continue supporting those customers with Unidesk's VMware Horizon View Composer and Instant Clones integration, just as Citrix supports its thousands of XenDesktop and XenApp customers that are running on VMware vSphere today.

Will Citrix continue to sell the current Unidesk product?

Citrix will not sell the current Unidesk product as it is today. Citrix plans to integrate Unidesk into future releases of Citrix XenDesktop, XenApp, and Workspace Suite and offer Unidesk stand-alone for VMware customers. Packaging, pricing, and licensing are still to be determined.

What is the transition plan for current Unidesk customers?

Citrix will assume support for existing Unidesk customers and will honor existing support contracts until expiration. Customers who reach the end of their Unidesk support contracts will have the option to extend support with Citrix.

What is the product roadmap for Unidesk going forward?

Citrix will disclose more Unidesk product roadmap details in the coming months.

How does this affect existing Unidesk channel partners?

The acquisition will provide an opportunity for Unidesk partners to continue their relationships with Citrix, expand the breadth of workspace delivery solutions offered, and address more customer use cases and requirements. Unidesk partners can go to for more information about becoming a Citrix partner.

How will Citrix customers benefit from the Unidesk acquisition?

Citrix customers will benefit in many ways from the acquisition of Unidesk.

IT will benefit from reduced operational and capital costs:

  1. Faster application packaging;
  2. The elimination of gold image sprawl and related patching inefficiencies;
  3. The elimination of service tickets caused by failed application or OS patches;
  4. Faster service call remediation by being able to instantly "undo" problematic patches and updates;
  5. Reduced server and storage costs by offer a persistent desktop experience with XenDesktop non-persistent VDI or XenApp shared hosted desktops;
  6. The agility to switch hypervisors without repackaging or reimaging;
  7. Easy on-ramp to the cloud;
  8. Reduction in unnecessary application licenses.

End users will benefit from productivity gains and greater application availability:

  1. Real-time delivery of new applications and app updates;
  2. Instant remediation of problematic software updates;
  3. More personal, customizable workspaces;
  4. Faster provisioning and on-boarding of new employees.

How does Unidesk differ from other application management solutions?

Unidesk was recognized for its advantages over other application management solutions in the Best of Citrix Synergy and Best of VMworld awards that it won in 2016. These advantages include:

  1. Superior application compatibility. Below-the-OS architecture provides in-guest and out-of-band layering for near-100% app compatibility. Other solutions run above the OS and only provides in-guest layering for 60-70% app compatibility.
  2. Automated image management. By layering the OS in addition to applications and user, Unidesk eliminates the need to patch and update multiple gold images. Image management is automated with connectors to existing provisioning solutions such as Citrix PVS and MCS and VMware View Composer and Instant Clones. Other solutions don't manage the OS, leaving IT to manually manage multiple gold images along with the embedded apps that cannot be packaged.
  3. Real-time app delivery for XenApp. Applications can be attached at login to individual XenApp shared hosted desktops and XenDesktop virtual desktops, giving Citrix customers more flexibility as to what types of workspaces they want to deliver. Other solutions only attach apps to virtual desktops, forcing customers to deploy VDI for all use cases.
  4. Cloud-Ready. Unidesk is the only solution that is Azure-Certified to run in Azure and deliver the same application packages to Azure. Other solutions only work for on-premises environments.
  5. Open. Platform connectors enable the same app packages to be delivered to any hypervisor or cloud without repackaging for maximum agility and flexibility. Other solutions result in lock-in to a single platform or costly repackaging exercises.

Will Citrix continue to offer AppDisk?

Unidesk layering technology will replace the existing XenApp and XenDesktop AppDisk layering technology, given that Unidesk layering technology is more feature-rich. It is capable of everything that AppDisk is and more. The timelines for deprecating AppDisk have not been finalized.


2014.5 Global Scripts 140616