Citrix Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services 2014 revision

Two years ago I started writing the Citrix Provisioning Services versus Machine Creation Services decision trees. A year and 12k visitors later it’s time for an updated version. The Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services decision tree has gotten a lot of attention over the last year. It’s used on Citrix blogs and more recently in one of the Citrix webinars by Atlantis Computing. This makes me proud and definitely works as an energizer to continue working on projects like this.

I’m writing this in such a way you won’t need to read the earlier articles but of course you are free to do so anyway.

The first article by Daniel Feller can be found here.
My article called Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services can be found here.
The 2013 revision of Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services can be found here.

After Daniel posted his decision tree over three years ago a lot has changed.

  • New Citrix features like XenServer Intellicache, MCS for “XenApp on XenDesktop 7″ and Citrix Provisioning Services in memory caching (with spill-over to disk)
  • In memory caching and deduplication by vendors like Atlantis Computing
  • Hardware vendors like FusionIO who are delivering local flash based storage with IO figures with over 200k IOPS
  • Local SSD storage prices have dropped massively and predictions are prices will continue to drop this year
  • The introduction of a new industry called Web-Scale technology with leading vendors like Nutanix. Bas van Kaam wrote an excellent article on WebScale technology.

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Citrix XenDesktop 7 Advanced Image Management

With the release of Citrix XenDesktop 7 two provsioning methods are now available which fully support  hosted shared (HDC) and hosted private (HDC). The first provisioning method is Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS) and the second is Machine Creation Services (MCS).

There are a couple of important differences between the two provisioning methods which you need to know before choosing the right method for your design. In one of my earlier articles I showed a decision tree which helps choosing between both methods. I would recommend to read this great article about storage resource usage, by Nick Rantalan, as well.

This article focusses on a very important difference between Citrix Provisioning Services and Machine Creation Services, Advanced Image Management.

Advanced Image Management

Advanced Image Management (AIM) is more than simply assigning an image to a specific machine or a group of machines. It’s about a proper way of upgrading and assigning images according to DTP principles in a simple and time efficient manner. Automation plays an important part of AIM as it saves time and more importantly leaves out the possibility of human errors. Andrew Morgan wrote an excellent article about why you want to prevent human errors by using automation.

PVS offers great image versioning functionality, automated DTP and even automated image updates with the integration of third party solutions like Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. This Citrix article explains the functionality in fine detail.

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Citrix XenDesktop 7 is all about simplicity!

Citrix XenDesktop 7 is probably one of the biggest product releases by Citrix ever. The consolidation of two of the strongest products, XenApp and XenDesktop into one single product is a huge step forward on so many levels!

For those of you who worked with me or who I had the honor to discuss IT in general, know that I focus on simplicity. I can get really irritated about products with great functionality but are managed with terrible management tools and a lot of different consoles. This is why I love products like SMS Passcode and RES Software products.
For what I’ve seen in the latest announcements and while testing preview releases of XenDesktop 7 (also known as Excalibur), this really is a product that comes close to true simplicity. I’m really happy with the consolidation of products, features and consoles.

This article is not going to be a “what’s new and hip style” article, there are plenty of those out there. What I want to show you is how much simpler this release makes our lives on a product and architectural level. Not only on the implementation side but especially on the management side.

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Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services 2013 revision

This article has been update with a 2014 revision. Click here to go to the PVS vs MCS 2014 revision.

Over one and a half year ago I wrote a follow up on an article by Citrix architect Daniel Feller. The original article by Daniel Feller needed an update and now mine is getting pretty outdated as well.

I’m writing this in such a way you won’t be needing to read the earlier articles but of course you are free to do so anyway.

The first article by Daniel Feller can be found here.
My article called Provisioning Services vs Machine Creation Services can be found here.

After Daniel posted his decision tree over two years ago a lot has happened. New Citrix features like XenServer Intellicache and MCS for “XenApp on XenDesktop 7” have been released and are changing the whole decision making process.
On top of that vendors started to work on solving the whole storage IO issue.

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PVS or MCS – What to do?

This article has been updated with a 2013 revision.

Earlier this year Daniel Feller wrote a great blog article on how to choose between PVS or MCS . This article can be found here.

With the release of the XenServer Intellicache feature and Provisioning Services 6.0 the question is “Is the decision tree still valid”?

This is what I will try to answer in this article.

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