The difference between Citrix Workspace Suite and Workspace Services

Citrix's Workspace Services and the Workspace Suite aren't one in the same. The Suite is a bundle of products and Workspace Services is a delivery platform and control plane.

Two Citrix products that are close in name -- Workspace Services and Workspace Suite -- are actually very different offerings.

Citrix Workspace Services (CWS) is a platform that lets you build and deliver desktops, applications and other mobile services from the cloud, your own data center or a mix of the two. The Workspace Suite is a bundle of traditional Citrix products packaged in a way that makes licensing more economical and helps your organization enable mobile users.

CWS attempts to create a common interface that stitches together all the things that today's users need in the cloud, and it could provide a much-needed bridge between the worlds of desktop as a service (DaaS) and traditional desktop virtualization.

The 411 on CWS

DaaS as we know it today suffers from a lack of coordinating infrastructure. It typically isn't enough to be able to run a Windows 7 desktop in the cloud; that desktop has to be able to access corporate resources and applications. Those resources and apps may require authentication or access to data that is not -- and may never be -- in a public cloud. But with CWS, Citrix hopes to change that. The pillars of Workspace Services are:

  • Cloud services: Citrix Workspace Services supports public, private or hybrid cloud deployments.
  • Control plane: In the Microsoft Azure Cloud, Citrix provides a control plane that is the central facility for managing your Citrix services, including storage in ShareFile and mobile-optimized applications via XenMobile, as well as desktop and application delivery with XenDesktop and XenApp. For comparison's sake, think of the control plane as the layer that the same products on-premises would use Desktop Delivery, App and Storage Zone Controllers for.

The control plane does not perform authentication, however. Your cloud or on-premises platforms should handle this function. For example, you could have the control plane use Active Directory Federation Services to broker the login process with an on-premises Active Directory (AD) domain controller that authenticates user login against corporate credentials. This approach lets you ease into the cloud if your organization is heavily invested in AD because you don't have to set up another identity store for users.

  • Resource zones: This is where a published desktop or application actually runs. For example, with XenApp, this would be where the actual XenApp server or worker running the Windows application is. The resource zone can reside on-premises, in the cloud or a mix of the two. Unlike the control plane that resides strictly in Windows Azure, the resource zone can live on other providers' cloud infrastructure.

Citrix Workspace Services supports public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services, IBM SoftLayer and those powered by Citrix's own CloudPlatform, which gives you a lot of flexibility. You can use any cloud you want for backup or disaster recovery, put user storage in the cloud but keep applications on-premises, take advantage of cloud bursting during usage peaks, and deliberately position servers geographically closer to users for better performance.

  • Extensibility: Citrix allows partners to extend the CWS platform so they can differentiate their offerings for customers. A provider may choose to deliver services that are targeted for a specific business segment or type of organization, for example. Citrix provides a software development kit for solution providers to provision in their chosen markets.

As of this writing, Citrix Workspace Services is in TechPreview.

Citrix Workspace Suite

The Citrix Workspace Suite is a single product that encompasses many Citrix technologies that are normally licensed or set up separately. It includes XenDesktop, XenApp, XenMobile, ShareFile and NetScaler. It also includes the additional technology that comes with existing XenDesktop Platinum and XenMobile Enterprise bundles, such as XenClient, CloudBridge, AppDNA and Worx mobile applications, such as WorxMail and WorxNotes.

Having the buffet of Citrix products available in one SKU gives you the components that you need to assemble a custom deployment. If you want to enable BYOD, you might like the fact that the Citrix Workspace Suite has the tools you need to deliver apps and desktops to the devices of users' choice, including a common portal to access them from. You can secure smartphones with enterprise mobility management tools that allow secure email use and controlled anywhere-access to files.

Workspace headache

VMware launched a competing product by the same name -- Workspace Suite -- that is a bundle of desktop virtualization, application delivery and enterprise mobile management products. There is also a handful of other products with Workspace in the name -- including ones from Amazon, Dell and BlackBerry -- and most of them serve slightly different purposes.

In the past, this would have involved licensing XenDesktop, XenApp, XenMobile, NetScaler and ShareFile separately in various editions and combinations that may cost you significantly more than a blanket Citrix Workspace Suite license.

Next Steps

Citrix Synergy 2014: Hits and misses

Citrix CTO says CWS is the future

Dig Deeper on Virtual desktop delivery tools

Enterprise Desktop
  • Understanding how GPOs and Intune interact

    Group Policy and Microsoft Intune are both mature device management technologies with enterprise use cases. IT should know how to...

  • Comparing MSI vs. MSIX

    While MSI was the preferred method for distributing enterprise applications for decades, the MSIX format promises to improve upon...

  • How to install MSIX and msixbundle

    IT admins should know that one of the simplest ways to deploy Windows applications across a fleet of managed desktops is with an ...

Cloud Computing