Do You Think Citrix XenApp Features’ Matrix Is Complex? | Check Out Parallels RAS

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Looking at the Citrix XenApp feature matrix, you notice that certain features such as VDI, HDI, and reporting require the purchase of different license model or add-ons. This licensing complexity for Citrix XenApp 6.x can delay the initial choice of license and complicate maintenance due to the radical changes in software architecture from XenApp to XenDesktop. Even organizations that are already on version 7.x still face challenges from the licensing complexity of XenApp. For instance, implementing VDI requires a change of license type, increasing the upfront costs. XenApp and XenDesktop licensing models can reduce a company’s ability to quickly adapt to business needs. 

On the other hand, Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) is an all-in-one application delivery and VDI solution under a single license. It offers all the features out of the box—including VDI, HDI, reporting, and more—lowering total cost of ownership (TCO) and lessening IT workload. IT agility can be easily achieved by combining RDS and VDI technologies, providing access to remote applications, desktops, and data to any device. 

How Does XenApp Work?

Citrix XenApp is a product that extends Microsoft RDS to deliver Windows applications to end users through HDX protocol. It enables IT administrators to deliver applications from a centralized location to an isolated environment, where they are presented on the target device. Take into consideration that XenApp doesn’t support VDI-hosted applications and desktops. There are three components involved in a XenApp setup:  

  1. Your Microsoft Windows RDS servers, which are used to host the applications and data. 
  2. Citrix XenApp software, which is used to publish your applications and data. 
  3. Citrix Receiver for client devices, the application used to connect to XenApp through HDX protocol to provide access to the published applications and data

Challenges with Citrix XenApp 7.6 

While Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop offer benefits, features are spread out across multiple editions. For instance, XenApp 7.6 Advanced Edition allows you to securely publish Windows applications from Microsoft RDS that can be accessed from iOS, Android, Windows, Mac® devices and more. To publish VDI-hosted applications and desktops, however, you need the XenDesktop 7.6 VDI edition. This edition offers basic VDI capabilities, while the Enterprise and Platinum editions offer more advanced features. 

High-end reporting tools such as configuration logging, historical performance trending, user experience network analysis, and intelligent session recording are only available in the Platinum edition. To access application migration and compatibility services such as AppDNA, you need the Platinum edition. Customers have to scour through all the features available in each edition and match them with their requirements to choose the right product, making the process time-consuming and costly. 

Parallels RAS vs. Citrix XenApp   

  Parallels RAS  Citrix XenApp 


Provides an all-in-one solution; enterprise features such as load balancing, high availability, reports, and more are all included and managed centrally.  Multiple and complex: Citrix StoreFront™, Citrix Studio, Citrix Director, Delivery Controller, Citrix NetScaler®, and Citrix Receiver™, to name a few.  Apart from NetScaler, all the components mentioned here are available using one ISO, so it’s similar to Parallels RAS in this respect. However, configuration takes much longer because each component must be configured separately. 


All features provided with a standard-edition license. This eliminates the complexity of evaluating which license best suits your business needs and provides enterprise features to any company, no matter the size, out of the box. 

Citrix XenApp comes in three editions: Advanced, the most basic; Enterprise, the mid-tier solution; and Platinum, which includes all XenApp. However, even with the Platinum edition, VDI features are not available. XenDesktop Enterprise and above includes application, shared desktop, and VDI publishing. Businesses have to figure out which edition suits their needs. NetScaler load balancing is optional for all editions at an additional cost; however, NetScaler Gateway™ is needed to enable remote accessibility. Given the prices 

of XenApp, businesses may opt to limit themselves with a basic edition of Citrix XenApp that lacks all the necessary functional requirements—or they might purchase a more advanced edition of XenApp that contains features they don’t need or use, leading to a low return on investment. 

Installation and Setup   Thanks to intuitive software, even junior IT personnel can build a setup within a few minutes without requiring any training. Quick-start wizards guide the administrator through configuring terminal servers, publishing applications, and inviting users to connect. 

Not intuitive; to complete the installation and setup, you need to be knowledgeable about various networking aspects (through research or training) or bring in a dedicated Citrix expert. This will ultimately result in more time being spent to implement and install the system. Various components need to work in complete synergy to deliver virtual resources. For example, SSL certificates, databases, load balancing, remote access, and HTML5 are all configured separately and not available out of the box. Also, HTML5 is on by default as a failback for native clients on Storefront. 

 RDS and VDI Support 

Can publish virtual resources from RDS as well as VDI. In terms of supported VDI solutions, it is Hypervisor-agnostic; it supports Microsoft Hyper-V®, VMware ESXi™, and Citrix XenServer®. 

 None of the three editions are able to publish VDI desktops; other editions and licenses are needed to handle this. XenApp is limited to publishing virtual resources from RDS only and is able to publish applications from VDI desktops in a 1:1 ratio (user: VM). 

Load Balancing 

High Availability Load Balancing (HALB) can distribute load among servers and gateways based on the resources available, dramatically improving the user experience. 

Load balancing to front-end servers is not included in any edition of XenApp. Citrix recommends NetScaler as an additional component for front-end load balancing or for load balancing XenApp components for bigger infrastructures. For example, Citrix recommends NetScaler to load balance traffic going to StoreFront servers. This is offered as an optional feature and at an additional cost. 

 Windows Server Support 

Supports Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, and 2016. This provides admins with a unique opportunity to migrate to newer systems at their own pace. 

 Supports Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, and 2016. 


Virtually unlimited reporting, plus the ability to retrieve historic data.  Advanced/Enterprise Editions offer a seven-day history. Platinum offers up to one year of historical data. 
Upgrade  All-in-place upgrade. 

Migration is needed to upgrade from XenApp 6.x to XenApp 7 because of a change in architecture (from IMA to FMA). 


If you’d like to learn how Parallels RAS offers a cost-effective alternative to XenApp and XenDesktop—that’s easier to set up, maintain, and scale—check out these white papers and blog posts: 

  • Switch to Parallels Remote Application Server and Save 60% Compared to Citrix XenApp 

Learn how Parallels RAS can easily act as a business’s desktop and application delivery solution, offering the same qualities as other leading solutions such as Citrix XenApp—but at an entirely different and affordable price. As a result, companies who opt to use Parallels RAS can save up to 60% while gaining added flexibility and manoeuvrability for their devices. Read the white paper. 

  • Migrating from Citrix XenApp (IMA/FMA) to Parallels Remote Application Server
    From cutting costs to extending the limits of your IT infrastructure, there are many reasons to move from Citrix XenApp to Parallels RAS. See how easily you can migrate to Parallels RAS from Citrix XenApp. Read the white paper. 
  • Citrix XenApp Migration Tool
    Parallels RAS makes the migration process even easier with a free migration tool that automates most of the processes. Using Microsoft PowerShell scripts, Citrix XenApp settings are seamlessly migrated to Parallels RAS. Learn more.   

Learn more about Parallels RAS. 



What is Citrix Xen App? – Part I | euc.consulting 

The Challenges of Monitoring  | Gartner 

What are the benefits of using Citrix | Experts Exchange 

Citrix Licencing | Licensing Models 

Deployment of XenApp and XenDesktop | Deploy 

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RAS is available in Cloud Server RAS.Contact us to find out our latest offers!

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