Since it was founded in 1989, Cloud computing giant Citrix has had a close relationship with Microsoft. Most companies that operate in a Citrix environment also use Windows desktop applications. Compatibility is therefore crucial, and these two competing giants continue to partner in the interest of serving the needs of their shared customers. Although Windows 365 is not native to the Citrix Cloud, it’s possible to configure Windows desktop applications to work in Citrix. So why do companies move away from Citrix and look to Microsoft instead? Why bother to migrate from Citrix to Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)?
For businesses in the mid-sized category, Citrix is expensive when it comes to maintaining a good standard of security and performance. Without significant investment in time, money and skills, it can become increasingly unstable. Often, mid-sized businesses don’t have the skills, tools or budgets at hand to continue to plug the gaps when a Windows application is struggling to perform in Citrix. Sometimes the cost of upgrading Citrix puts improved performance and better security out of reach for SMEs. For small and mid-sized businesses, the main reasons to migrate from Citrix to Azure Virtual Desktop include affordability, accessibility, agility and security. Let’s take a look at each of these in some detail.
Azure Virtual Desktop was designed as a low cost Cloud environment for small businesses and pricing is consumption-based. This is in line with Microsoft’s commitment to offer small businesses the same advantages as large enterprises when it comes to computing performance. Moving to Azure Virtual Desktop, businesses with a Microsoft Enterprise Subscription Plan can simply move those licenses into the Azure Cloud environment.
Companies in a Citrix on premises environment require physical infrastructure. This means they need to also allow for tenancy in datacentres, hardware costs for Windows servers (actual machines), ongoing maintenance, support and security. Then there is the cost of running Citrix. In a Microsoft Cloud environment, AVD is included in your Microsoft Enterprise Subscription Plan.
With a full Cloud environment in Microsoft Azure, businesses have no upfront costs, no hardware, footprint or connectivity costs, and security in the Cloud is automatically maintained as part of Microsoft’s service.
Citrix and Microsoft 365 applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Teams are 100% compatible although many businesses find the experience clunky and the performance flawed. In our experience, Microsoft Teams causes the most frequent performance problems when running in Citrix.
Since 2020, Teams usage has grown exponentially. At the time of writing, there are now over 200 million people actively using Teams around the world. In order for users to experience good quality in sound and video, the Citrix environment needs to be optimised. Even when adjustments have been made, the video stream resolution is significantly limited. In AVD, Microsoft 365 applications including Teams perform as well as you would expect from native applications — there is no need for adaptation.
Scaling your business up or down in a Citrix on prem or co-located datacentre environment is quite a process: you might need to buy additional disk space or servers, potentially extending the footprint of your tenancy. With that comes the project of planning and implementing this, the risk of downtime, and the cost of sending engineers to site. In Azure Virtual Desktop, you simply click the digital button and request more space.
New users added within AVD also are automatically configured to your specification – you don’t need to physically build a device.
Upgrading a Citrix environment can be time-consuming and costly however upgrades are necessary to keep the environment secure. The longer upgrades are delayed because of cost or resource, the more vulnerable to cyberattacks or threats your business becomes. Poorly maintained Citrix environments are common, therefore organisations using Citrix are often easy targets for bad actors.
In Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop, all of the supporting servers are protected security-wise by Microsoft and businesses only need worry about protecting the desktops. Many Citrix users need to procure extensive 3rd party cybersecurity services to help manage additional risk in the Citrix environment.
Firstly, don’t forget that Citrix might be the right solution for your business. Although Citrix Systems Inc. has been in decline, a user stronghold exists. It typically comprises long-standing, large enterprise companies with Cloud computing requirements that pre-date the launch of Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Services. For many of these businesses, Citrix is so embedded that moving away from it would be a last resort. Weighing up the risk to business interruption during a migration project of that scale, often Citrix comes out on top despite the many benefits and cost-savings Microsoft Azure has to offer. Besides, the technicians and engineers in these enterprises are by now highly skilled in Citrix deployment, and tools and processes are aplenty when it comes to enabling Windows applications to run in Citrix.
But perhaps your IT supplier hasn’t considered all of the benefits of Microsoft AVD. Citrix engineers are not always experts in Microsoft Cloud services including Azure Virtual Desktop. Their careers in recent times have been preoccupied with ensuring Windows applications are compatible with Citrix. Even though Azure Virtual Desktop is relatively simple to learn compared to Citrix, the reality is that it’s rare to find an engineer equally skilled in both. We would always advise any organisation to seek a second opinion when it comes to evaluating whether to migrate from Citrix to Azure Virtual Desktop.
If you are questioning whether your Citrix environment could be migrated to Azure, we would be more than happy to share our experiences. Get in touch with us to book your discovery call by emailing the team at [email protected].