Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard for Azure

Introduction

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard for Azure is the simplest, fastest way to deliver Windows apps and desktops from Microsoft Azure. This service 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 Citrix 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.

The Citrix Remote PC Access feature enables users to remotely use existing physical machines located in the office. Users receive the best user experience by using Citrix HDX to deliver their office PC session.

If you’re familiar with other Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops products, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard for Azure simplifies the deployment of virtual apps and desktops. Citrix can manage the infrastructure for hosting those workloads.

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

To learn about components, data flow, and security considerations, see Technical security overview. That article also outlines customer and Citrix responsibilities.

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard for Azure was previously named Citrix Managed Desktops. The earlier name might continue to appear in various locations for a while.

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 set up a catalog of machines that deliver desktops and apps (or a catalog containing physical machines for Remote PC Access), the service displays the Citrix Workspace URL. You then notify your users to go 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/.

Concepts and terminology

This section introduces some of the items and terms that administrators use in this service:

Catalogs

A catalog is a group of machines.

  • The desktops and apps that the service delivers to your users reside on virtual machines (VMs). Those VMs are created (provisioned) in the catalog.

    When you deploy desktops, the machines in the catalog are shared with selected users. When you publish applications, multi-session machines host applications that are shared with selected users.

  • For Remote PC Access, a catalog contains existing single-session physical machines. A common deployment includes machines located in your office. You control user access to those machines through the configured user assignment method and selected users.

If you’re familiar with other 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.)

Learn more:

Resource locations

A catalog’s machines reside in a resource location. A resource location also contains two or more Cloud Connectors.

  • When publishing desktops or apps, Citrix automatically creates the resource location and the Cloud Connectors when you create the first catalog.
  • For Remote PC Access, the administrator creates the resource location and the Cloud Connectors before creating a catalog.

When you create more catalogs for published desktops and apps, the Azure subscription, region, and domain determine whether Citrix creates another resource location. If those criteria match an existing catalog, Citrix tries to reuse that resource location.

Learn more:

Master images

When you create a catalog for published desktops and apps, an image is used (with other settings) as a template for creating the machines.

  • The service provides several Citrix-managed images:

    • Windows 10 Enterprise (single-session)
    • Windows 10 Enterprise Virtual Desktop (multi-session)
    • Windows 10 Enterprise Virtual Desktop (multi-session) with Office 365 ProPlus
    • Windows Server 2012 R2
    • Windows Server 2016
    • Windows Server 2019

    The Citrix-managed images already have a Citrix 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 also import and use your own images from Azure. You must install a VDA (and other software) on the image before it can be used to create a catalog.

The term VDA often refers to the machine that delivers apps or desktops, and the software component installed on that machine.

Learn more about images and how to use them.

Azure subscriptions

You can create catalogs for delivering desktops and apps, and build/import master images in either in a Citrix-managed Azure subscription or your own (customer-managed) Azure subscription.

When you order the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard for Azure service, you must import and use your own Azure subscriptions. When you also order a Citrix Azure Consumption Fund, you receive a Citrix-managed Azure subscription. You can then use either a Citrix-managed Azure subscription or one of your imported Azure subscriptions when creating a catalog or building a new image.

To learn about the differences in responsibility with Citrix-managed Azure subscriptions and customer-managed Azure subscriptions, see Technical security overview.

Deployment scenarios illustrate ways to use Azure subscriptions.

Learn more about Azure subscriptions.

Network connections

When creating a catalog using a Citrix-managed Azure subscription, you indicate if and how users can access locations and resources on their corporate on-premises network from their published desktops and apps. The choices are no connectivity, Azure VNet peering, and Citrix SD-WAN.

When using your own Azure subscription, there is no need to create a connection. You only need to import (add) your Azure subscription to the service.

Learn more about Network connections.

Domain-joined and non-domain-joined

Several service operations and features differ, depending on whether the machines (VDAs) are domain-joined or non-domain-joined. Domain membership also affects the available deployment scenarios.

  • Both domain-joined and non-domain joined machines support any of the user authentication methods available in the user’s workspace.
  • You can publish desktops, apps, or both from domain-joined and non-domain-joined machines. Machines in Remote PC Access catalogs must be domain-joined.

The following table explains the major differences between non-domain-joined and domain-joined machines when delivering desktops and apps.

Non-domain-joined Domain-joined
Active Directory is not used for machines. Machines are not joined to an AD domain. Active Directory is used for machines. Machines are joined to an AD domain.
Active Directory group policies cannot be applied to machines (VDAs). (You can apply local GPO on the image that’s used to create a catalog.) VDAs inherit group policies for the AD OU specified during catalog creation.
Users sign in using single sign-on. When users sign in to their workspace using an authentication method other than Active Directory, they are also prompted for sign-in when a VDA (desktop or app) launches.
Do not need a connection to on-premises network. Must have a connection to on-premises network, using Microsoft Azure VNet or Citrix SD-WAN.
Must use a Citrix-managed Azure subscription. (Cannot use your own Azure subscriptions.) Can use a Citrix-managed Azure subscription and your own Azure subscriptions.
Cannot troubleshoot using a bastion machine or direct RDP. Can troubleshoot using a bastion machine or direct RDP.
Cannot use Citrix Profile Management. (Recommend: Use persistent catalogs.) Can use Citrix Profile Management or FSLogix.

Deployment scenarios

Deployment scenarios for published desktops and apps differ, depending on whether you’re using a Citrix-managed Azure subscription or your own customer-managed Azure subscription.

Deploying in a Citrix-managed Azure subscription

Deployment scenario with Citrix-managed subscription

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard 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 (which is managed by Citrix) to manage users. 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 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 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 Azure 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 Azure VNet peering and 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 used for network connectivity. Active Directory Domain Services in the on-premises location is used for end user authentication.

    Deployment scenario with Azure VNet peering and customer on-premises network

  • Customer’s Active Directory and SD-WAN: You can provide users with access to files and other items from your on-premises or cloud SD-WAN networks.

    Citrix SD-WAN optimizes all the network connections needed by Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard. Working in concert with the HDX technologies, Citrix SD-WAN provides quality-of-service and connection reliability for ICA and out-of-band Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard traffic.

    Deployment scenario with Citrix SD-WAN and customer on-premises network

Deploying in a customer-managed Azure subscription

Deployment scenario with customer-managed subscription

The deployment in the preceding graphic uses a customer-managed Azure subscription. However, the Citrix-managed Azure subscription remains an option for other catalogs and images, as indicated by the dotted outline.

More information

For in-depth technical details, see:

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Standard for Azure