Driving Your Investment in Citrix XenApp Toward a Future of VMware Horizon 6: If It’s Not Completely Broken, Should I Fix It?

Dec 23, 2014
Jessica Flohr


Jessica Chapin (Flohr) is a contract technical writer and editor in End-User Computing at VMware in Palo Alto, California. She graduated from the University of Colorado Denver with a bachelor of arts degree in English Writing and has a certificate in editing from Poynter News University. Currently, she is working on the Professional Sequence in Editing through the UC Berkeley Extension program. In addition to editing technical papers and formatting blog posts for the End-User Computing blog, Jessica writes for her local community newspaper.

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By Debra Perrin Coltoff, Technical Writer, End-User Computing Technical Marketing, VMware

With significant contributions from Mark Ewert, End-User Computing Architect, VMware

My car hasn’t passed 150,000 miles yet and it works just fine. Why would I buy a new one? For many of us, investing in an updated technology for business, much like a new automobile for the road, is no small thing. It takes time and money to decide which tool to purchase in the first place. And at the office, that decision is often accompanied by an enormous investment of time and effort to convince those who hold the purse strings that your well-informed choice really does make the most sense. So why pay for something new when the old reliable set of wheels is working just fine? Why not stay on top of the belts and fluids, replace brake pads and tires as they wear out, and utilize the investment you have already made?

For many shops with an existing investment in Citrix XenApp, the question is the same. Why change what still works? Let us explore the three most common options for utilizing VMware Horizon to enhance the XenApp investment you made some time ago.


As you know, most cars operate the same way in a general sense. But, if you compare my older car with its aging engine and rebuilt transmission to the 2015 newer model that my parents just purchased, you will see something quite different. In my car, there have been many changes over the years. Although the body, for the most part, remains the same, quite a few key components have been replaced, sometimes with ones that were not made specifically for this model. While my parents’ 2015 parts came directly from the factory, configured to work together to produce the best possible result, my car is more a bit of this and a bit of that. I often hope it will work better than it does. And I spend a lot of time babying it to make sure it keeps running.

The same is true in a computing environment. Those with an aging infrastructure must continually work to make sure all of the parts are moving in the same direction. A more current environment, on the other hand, has some distinct advantages. From the start, it is a newer, more flexible infrastructure. It has more options, it can extend further than an older environment can, and it utilizes fewer resources in the process. And like my parents with their new 2015 car, you get more for the money you have spent on your compute resources if the parts are all from the same vendor, made to work seamlessly together. Most people cannot afford to buy a new car whenever they hear of a tempting new model. And most organizations have likewise already made a significant investment in technology and personnel when they hear about the advantages of VMware Horizon 6. Everyone wants the best value for every dollar spent. So how do you utilize your legacy XenApp infrastructure in combination with a more versatile VMware Horizon 6 approach? There are three main options.


Figure 1: Routes from XenApp to Horizon

You have the choice of

  • Integrating your XenApp infrastructure with VMware Workspace Portal
  • Migrating your XenApp hosted applications to Horizon with View hosted applications, with Workspace Portal for optional application access
  • Replacing your XenApp infrastructure with View hosted applications, with Workspace Portal for application access

Both Workspace Portal and View are available in the Horizon Advanced and Enterprise Editions. We recommend using Workspace Portal as the application portal so that hosted applications look the same to the user, whether XenApp hosted applications are integrated into Workspace Portal, or migrated to or replaced with View hosted applications. Underneath the hood, you can choose integration, migration, or replacement; to the user, on the dashboard, the hosted applications look identical.

So you might think of this decision about integration, migration, or replacement as you would think about purchasing a new car:

  • If you want to update the look and feel of your automobile, you can replace the interior. This gives the driver and passengers a new way to access the car and a new level of comfort and ease that they have not experienced for some time.  This is like the integration choice, where the application portal is the only change.
  • If your car still runs and is not a safety hazard, but could use some repair of the interior, body, and controls, you can replace only these parts, and still rely on the engine and transmission. This is like the migration option: You will reuse the servers, but switch the endpoints and the application portal.
  • If you must continually repair your car, and it is too expensive, time consuming, or complex to fix, it should be completely replaced. Your car was perfect for you once, but that time is now in the past. This is like the replacement option: You have new servers, a unified application portal, and endpoints configured to work perfectly with the rest of the solution.


Which option is the best for you?  My parents asked that same question when they began looking at new cars. They are getting older, and their focus was on buying a car that would be the safest possible to protect them in case of an accident. What will protect your business, moving forward into 2015?  What about five years from now?  Or ten?  How do you know which approach is best for your organization?  The following diagram offers ways to think about the current state of your XenApp infrastructure and your business goals for the future.


Figure 2: Which Approach Is Right for You?

Technology has completely passed by my older car. My parents’ new model has nine computers in it, and mine has a manual transmission that, to be honest, was built before some of my colleagues graduated from high school. When will it no longer be worthwhile to search for the parts that I am unable to replace? At what point do I take the plunge and invest in a technologically brighter tomorrow?  And if I am just buying parts, rather than a new car, which parts will I need to replace to keep my old car going?  We have some ideas about that, too. Let us take a look at what is under the hood.


Figure 3: Major Components Required for the Route from XenApp to Horizon

As you can see, the migration and replacement options with View hosted applications have some different components from those required for XenApp hosted applications integrated with Workspace Portal. The most significant difference is that while Citrix integrated with Workspace Portal requires a separate Citrix license server, the migration or replacement option with View hosted applications requires no license server.

Whichever path you choose to follow, we have the road map you need to stay on track. For more information on integrating, migrating, or replacing your XenApp hosted applications, read the white paper How to Migrate Citrix XenApp to VMware Horizon 6.

I still use a manual key to open my car door, and my mobile phone for directions. My parents have a smart key that unlocks their car and starts its engine, a dashboard navigation system, and sensors to warn them of objects that they are unable to see as they drive. For whichever combination of technology you choose, VMware Horizon 6 will help you get where you are going.

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