Windows in the cloud: Rating the 5 Citrix-based contenders

These desktop-as-a-service offerings deliver Windows-based sessions to all manner of devices

Looking for a way to implement BYOD? Desktop-as-a-service offers a way to deliver Windows-based sessions to all manner of devices. In this test, we reviewed DaaS offerings from Desktone, dinCloud, Nivio, ICC Global Hosting, and Applications2U. All are based on Citrix, but they differ in a variety of key areas. Read the story version of this test.

Desktone

In our testing, Desktone was fast and easy to provision. Performance was good, and Desktone has a more involved customer intake process than some of the other services we looked at, which means it’s targeted toward the enterprise. The Desktone administrative portal allows you to check site configurations, as well as assets distribution and pools, which are aggregations of resource groupings.

dinCloud

The dinCloud client is vWorkstation from Quest Software. The vWorkstation software gave us a rapid access under Windows 7, but it requires a few user-side settings on other platforms. The results, however, are pretty spectacular for users. Our connection was fast, and it was difficult to tell that it wasn't the resident host operating system on our clients. With the Quest vWorkspace client, it's possible to allow sharing of local drives, printers, COM ports, smartcards, USB devices, etc. We could also set performance optimizations. Overall, dinCloud was fast, and the intake process was professional and showed skills at varying architectural possibilities.

Nivio

The Nivio experience was different than the other DaaS providers, following a model that's very retail-like. Based on Citrix XenServer, Nivio used a commodity-based session model for its desktop services. You can get persistent or non-persistent sessions, rent or license apps, and use the session-spawned “nDrive” to save and collaborate pre-loaded or production data among groups of users. The feel of Nivio is more ad hoc and spontaneous. Nivio doesn't provision standard Windows 7 sessions. Instead, we got terminal-server like sessions running on Windows 2008R2 Server. In use, Nivio was the longest to load a session unless it was a persistent session. That said, the sessions performed well according to the benchmark we used.

ICC Global Hosting

ICC Global Hosting hosts line-of-business apps for a variety of ISVs. ICC Global Hosting uses Citrix XenApp to provision Windows 2008R2 terminal sessions, which were very fast. ICCGH also supports Active Directory environments and a number of VPN configurations.

Applications2U

A2U uses Citrix Receiver clients that can be loaded onto Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. Applications 2U gives you the option of running a fully virtualized desktop and/or Windows-compatible applications. The app-only experience is well done.