Citrix Managed Desktops

Citrix Managed Desktops is the simplest, fastest way to deliver Windows apps and desktops from Microsoft Azure. The Citrix Managed Desktops solution offers cloud-based management, provisioning, and managed capacity for delivering virtual apps and desktops to any device.

This solution includes:

  • Cloud-based management and provisioning for delivering Citrix-hosted Windows Virtual Desktops, and apps from multi-session Windows machines.
  • A high-definition user experience from a broad range of devices, using the Citrix Workspace app.
  • Simplified image creation and management workflows, along with Citrix-managed single session and multi-session images that have the latest Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) installed.
  • Secure remote access from any device using global points of presence of the Citrix Gateway service.
  • Advanced monitoring and help desk management capabilities.
  • Managed Azure IaaS, including Azure compute, storage, and networking for delivering virtual desktops.

If you’re familiar with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops products or editions, Citrix Managed Desktops offers the following benefits:

  • The Citrix Managed Desktops offering significantly simplifies the deployment of virtual apps and desktops, as Citrix manages the infrastructure for hosting those workloads.
  • You don’t have to set up or manage Azure subscriptions and resource groups.

Citrix Managed Desktops is a Citrix Cloud service. Citrix Cloud is the platform that hosts and administers Citrix services. Learn more about Citrix Cloud.

To learn more about Citrix Managed Desktops components, data flow, and security considerations, see Technical security overview.

How users access desktops and apps

Users (sometimes called subscribers) access their desktops and apps directly through their browser, using the Citrix HTML5 client. Users browse to a Citrix Workspace URL that is provided by you, their administrator. The Citrix Workspace platform enumerates and delivers the digital resources to users. Users start a desktop or an application from their workspace.

After you create and configure a group of machines that deliver desktops and apps (called a catalog), the service displays the Citrix Workspace URL. You then notify your users to browse to that URL to start their desktop and apps.

As an alternative to navigating to Citrix Workspace to access their desktops and apps, users can install a Citrix Workspace app on their device. Download the app that’s right for the endpoint device’s operating system: https://www.citrix.com/downloads/workspace-app/.

Deployment scenarios

Citrix Managed Desktops supports several deployment scenarios for connection and user authentication.

  • Managed Azure AD: This is the simplest deployment, with non-domain-joined VDAs. It’s recommended for proofs of concept. You use the Managed Azure AD to manage users. (This is a Citrix-managed Azure AD.) Your users don’t need to access resources on your on-premises network.

    Deployment scenario with Managed Azure AD

  • Customer’s Azure Active Directory: This deployment also contains non-domain-joined VDAs. You use your own Active Directory or Azure Active Directory (AAD) for end user authentication. In this scenario, your users don’t need to access resources on your on-premises network.

    Deployment scenario with customer's Azure AD

  • Customer’s Azure Active Directory with on-premises access: This deployment also contains non-domain-joined VDAs. You use your own AD or AAD for end user authentication. In this scenario, installing Citrix Cloud Connectors in your on-premises network enables access to resources in that network.

    Deployment scenario with customer's AAD and on-premises network

  • Customer’s Azure Active Directory Domain Services and VNet peering: If your AD or AAD resides in your own Azure VNet and subscription, you can use the Microsoft Azure VNet peering feature for a network connection, and Azure Active Directory Domain Services (AADDS) for end user authentication. The VDAs are joined to your domain.

    Deployment scenario with customer Azure subscription

    To enable your users to access data stored in your on-premises network, you can use your VPN connection from your Azure subscription to the on-premises location. Azure VNet peering is still used for network connectivity. Active Directory Domain Services in the on-premises location is used for end user authentication.

    Deployment scenario with customer on-premises network

Dashboards

Most of the administrator activities for this service are managed through the Manage and Monitor dashboards. After you create your first catalog, the Manage dashboard launches automatically after you sign in to Citrix Cloud and select the Managed Desktops service.

Manage dashboard

You can access the dashboards after your request for a trial or purchase is approved and completed.

To access the dashboards:

  1. Sign in to Citrix Cloud.
  2. In the upper left menu, select My Services > Managed Desktops. (Alternatively, you can click Manage on the Managed Desktops tile in the main portion of the display.)
  3. If a catalog has not been created yet, click Get Started on the Welcome page. You’re taken to the Manage dashboard.
  4. If a catalog has already been created, you’re taken automatically to the Manage dashboard.
  5. To access the Monitor dashboard, click the Monitor tab.

For in-product guidance from the dashboard, click the icon in the lower right corner.

Pendo icon

About catalogs

A catalog is a group of identical virtual machines. When you deploy desktops, the machines in the catalog are shared with selected users. When you publish applications, multi-session machines in the catalog host applications that are shared with selected users. When you create a catalog, a master image is used (with other settings) as a template for creating the machines.

If you’re familiar with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops products, a catalog in this service is similar to combining a machine catalog and a delivery group. (The catalog and delivery group creation workflows in other services are not available in this service.)

A catalog can contain one of the following types of machines:

  • Static: The catalog contains single session static machines (also known as personal, dedicated, or persistent desktops). Static means that when a user starts a desktop, that desktop “belongs” to that user. Any changes that that user makes to the desktop are retained at logoff. Later, when that user returns to Citrix Workspace and starts a desktop, it is the same desktop.
  • Random: The catalog contains single session random machines (also known as non-persistent desktops). Random means that when a user starts a desktop, any changes that that user makes to that desktop are discarded after logoff. Later, when that user returns to Citrix Workspace and starts a desktop, it might or might not be the same desktop.
  • Multi-session: The catalog contains machines with apps and desktops. Each of those machines can be accessed by more than one user simultaneously. Users can launch a desktop or apps from their workspace. App sessions can be shared. Session sharing is not permitted between an app and a desktop.
    • When you create a multi-session catalog, you select the work load: light (such as data entry), medium (such as office apps), heavy (such as engineering), or custom. Each option represents a number of machines and sessions per machine. This yields the total number of sessions that the catalog supports.
    • If you select the custom work load, you then select from available combination of CPUs, RAM, and storage. Type the number of machines and sessions per machine, which yields the total number of sessions that the catalog supports.

The static and random types are sometimes called “desktop types.”

To learn about catalog information that’s displayed from the Manage dashboard, see Catalog tabs on the Manage dashboard.

Ways to create a catalog

There are two ways to create and configure a catalog:

  • Quick create is the fastest way to get started. You provide minimal information, and the service takes care of the rest. A quick create catalog is great for a test environment or proof of concept.
  • Custom create allows more configuration choices than quick create. It’s more suited to a production environment than a quick create catalog.

Here’s a comparison:

Quick create Custom create
Less information to provide. More information to provide.
Fewer choices for some features. More choices for some features.
Citrix-managed Azure Active Directory user authentication. Choice of: Citrix-managed Azure Active Directory, or your Active Directory/Azure Active Directory.
No connection to your on-premises network. Choice of: No connection to your on-premises network or Azure VNet peering.
Uses a Citrix-managed Windows 10 master image. That image contains a current desktop VDA. Choice of: Citrix-provided images, a version of a Citrix image that you’ve customized, or an image you imported from Azure.
Each desktop has Azure standard disk (HDD) storage. Several storage options are available.
Static desktops only. Static, random, or multi-session desktops.
A power management schedule cannot be configured during creation. The machine hosting the desktop powers off when the session ends. (You can change this later.) A power management schedule can be configured during creation.

For more information, see:

About master images

A master image functions as a template for creating virtual machines in a catalog. Citrix Managed Desktops provides several Citrix-managed master images:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise (single session)
  • Windows 10 Enterprise Virtual Desktop (multi-session) preview
  • Windows Server 2016

The Citrix-managed master images already have a Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA) and troubleshooting tools installed. The VDA is the communication mechanism between your users’ machines and the Citrix Cloud infrastructure that manages the service. You can:

  • Use a Citrix-provided image when creating a catalog. This is recommended only for proof of concept deployments.
  • Use a Citrix-provided image to create another image. After the new image created, you customize it by adding applications and other software that your users need. Then, you use that customized image when creating a catalog.
  • Import an image from Azure. After you import an image from Azure, you can then use that image when creating a catalog. Or, you can use that image to create a new image, and then customize it by adding apps. Then, you use that customized image when creating a catalog.

When you create a catalog, Citrix Managed Desktops verifies that the master image uses a valid operating system and has a valid VDA and troubleshooting tools installed (along with other checks).

For more information, see Manage master images.

Get a Citrix Cloud account and sign up for the service

When you evaluate or purchase the Citrix Managed Desktops service, the Citrix Service Operations team provides ongoing onboarding help. That team also communicates with you to ensure that the service is running and configured correctly.

  1. To sign up for a Citrix account and request a trial, go to https://onboarding.cloud.com. For details about that process, see Sign up for Citrix Cloud.
  2. After you sign in to Citrix Cloud, click Request Trial on the Citrix Managed Desktops service tile. The text changes to Trial Requested.

    If you already subscribe to one of the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops services, the Citrix Managed Desktops tile indicates How to Buy. You must either use a different OrgID for the Citrix Managed Desktops service subscription, or decommission the Virtual Apps and Desktops service.

  3. You’ll receive an email when the service is available for you. Sign in to Citrix Cloud.
  4. On the Managed Desktops tile, click Manage. The first time you access the service, you’re taken to the service’s Welcome page.

Service Welcome page

What to do next: Complete the setup tasks.

Other service tiles

When you receive an entitlement (as a trial or purchase) to Citrix Managed Desktops, several tiles appear on the Citrix Cloud landing page:

  • Managed Desktops
  • Virtual Apps and Desktops
  • Gateway
  • Smart Tools

Managed Desktops is the only service that is activated for your use.

If you currently subscribe to a different Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service

Your Citrix Cloud account allows you to subscribe to only one of the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops services at a time (for example, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops OR Citrix Managed Desktops, but not both). If you currently subscribe to a service, and want to subscribe to this service, you must either:

  • Subscribe to this service using a different Citrix Cloud account.
  • Decommission the service you already have.

For guidance, see CTX239027.