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Remote Desktop Services vs. Citrix

Posted on 2011-02-23
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Hi Everyone,

We’re  Currently using 4 Citrix presentation servers on 4.5 on 2003 server. We are looking to upgrade to 2008 R2 on all of our servers.   Wondering with the improvements in Remote desktop Services, if we can save money switching from Citrix.  All the research on the web seems 2 to 3 years old.  We have about 60-70 remote users from 8 sites in our MPLS Wan across T1 lines.  Have read the comparison in features from citrix and find that we are basic users and could use RDS.  Has anyone switched and happy they did or wish they didn't?

Thanks everyone!    
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Question by:Sparboe
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by:nappy_d
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Yes you will save money.  However HDX perfomance is improved.

In 2008 R2 server, you have a feature known as RemoteApp.  This allows you to take advantage of application presentation just like Citrix.  The disadvantage to not using Citrix is that you cannot present applications or desktops to users on Non-Windows systems.
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by:connectex
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There was a day that I wouldn't even consider not buying Citrix XenApp or one of the previously named versions. But Microsoft has certainly closed the gap. The document called "Citrix XenApp on Microsoft RDS: A Feature Analysis" available on this page http://www.citrix.com/English/ps2/products/documents_onecat.asp?contentid=186&cid=White+Papers#top has a good comparision of the various possiblities. If you don't really need Citrix's strengths then go only Microsoft.
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by:Wyoung2100
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I really dont like citrix at all but remember the Cals you have to purchase for term services otherwise known as RDP. I wouldnt use anything else ever
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by:Felix Leven
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1. you allways have to buy the Terminal Server cals
2. Citrix cals on top, if you are using it
3. Citrix ICA protocol is optimized for branch offices with low bandwidth and it can even be more optmized with wan-scaler from citrix
3. RDP is only optimized to get richer visual feature using the same bandwidth or not much then before
4. Citrix® Access Gateway is a nicer solution if people from outside should use APP's from the inside

I like citrix a lot over RDP if you need to host apps for user's/customers in branch location with low  bandwidth  or "unknown" locations.

go for M$ if you like to slim down administrative effort for app deployment in your local network, or you like to deploy a few apps to remote users.
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by:Sparboe
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I appreciate the responses, keep them coming.  Has anyone switched to Remote Desktop Services with 2008 R2 or using it instead of citrix?
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by:Felix Leven
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You can do that, but if you bought Citrix Cals once, you can still use them in the future and if you renew your Subscription Advantage you allways can install the newest version of citrix. Microsft will never do a better terminal services product then citrix ;-), they meet once a year. There really is no reason for chaning to RDP if you allready got some licenses from citrix.

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by:t0dd_sw
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Also, SP1 for Server 2008R2 improved multimedia in RDC sessions. I'm installing soon to see how it helps. SP1 in WIn7 also includes this enhancement
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by:Felix Leven
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The "multimedia" in RPC ist kind of a consumer feature, same for the new RemoteFX SP1 feature (virtual deployment of 3D apps like AutoCad).
Most of the time you need a tool that gets as many connections over a line as possible.

Heres a nice whitepaper (2008) on RDP performance from Microsoft:
http://www.google.de/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDQQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdownload.microsoft.com%2Fdownload%2F4%2Fd%2F9%2F4d9ae285-3431-4335-a86e-969e7a146d1b%2Frdp_performance_whitepaper.docx&ei=2VlrTYX1IIPxsgasw4DpDA&usg=AFQjCNFgHctd4EOuLl0fy3s7BKjc0GLIYg&sig2=1Jh2l_dHh5NYL8lpmTEpDQ

As you can see, Microsoft offers better, richer performance with every release of RDP, but won't save you any bandwidth in the future.
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Cláudio Rodrigues earned 125 total points
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My company did switch several customers from Citrix to a plain Microsoft solution based on 2008 R2. It gets down to:
- size of the deployment: they typical customer we have that we did switch was in the 2-4 server range (80-160 users).
- connection requirements: if most of the users will connect from uncontrolled networks (3G, Hotels, bad DSL/Cable/etc) then RDP may suffer. ICA is much better but still suffers a lot with Packet Loss (but handles latency very well). Of course there are third party solutions that can make RDP as great as ICA for 99% of the use cases out there.

And as mentioned on the paragraph above, keep in mind that other solutions like Quest vWorkspace, 2X ApplicationServer, etc do offer 95% of what Citrix has to offer at a fraction of the cost.

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - RDS
Citrix CTP
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