Product Documentation

VM Hosted Apps

Oct 09, 2015

VM hosted apps allows you to deliver applications from virtual machines or physical computers, including blade servers, running Windows single-user desktop operating systems. Users access these applications through a Web browser, the Citrix online plug-in, or Citrix Receiver, just as they would applications hosted from XenApp servers running Remote Desktop Services. VM hosted apps allows you to deliver applications that otherwise must be installed locally or require extensive compatibility testing on XenApp servers.

You can publish any Windows application as a VM-hosted application, but ideal candidates include applications that:

  • Are incompatible with or not supported by Remote Desktop Services
  • Require special hardware devices, such as USB, special keyboards, or biometric devices
  • Consume large amounts of computing or graphics resources
  • Require a single-user environment

To use VM hosted apps, you create a VM hosted apps site and populate it with desktop groups configured with applications you want to deliver. Users access these applications but have no direct access to the desktops.

You give users access to these applications using the Web Interface. Although VM hosted apps cannot share a farm with XenApp servers, a VM hosted apps site can share a Web Interface site with XenApp server farms. Applications from VM hosted apps sites and XenApp farms appear the same to users.

VM Hosted Apps and XenDesktop

VM hosted apps is available as a feature of XenApp and as a feature of XenDesktop 5.

VM hosted apps uses Citrix XenDesktop infrastructure to deliver applications hosted on desktops.

When you install VM hosted apps as a feature of XenApp, the XenDesktop infrastructure required is installed at the same time. If you are using VM hosted apps as a feature of XenDesktop, the feature is available when you install XenDesktop 5; you install nothing additional.

VM hosted apps does not support XenDesktop-ready thin clients.

Licensing and VM Hosted Apps

VM hosted apps uses XenApp licenses. Each user consumes one XenApp license for all application sessions, regardless of whether applications are hosted using VM hosted apps or XenApp server.

If you are using VM hosted apps as a feature of XenApp, no additional Citrix licenses are required.

If you are using VM hosted apps as a feature of XenDesktop 5:
  • The XenApp licenses required for the VM hosted apps feature are included with XenDesktop 5 Enterprise edition and XenDesktop 5 Platinum edition
  • If you want to use VM hosted apps with a version of XenDesktop 5 that does not include XenApp licenses, you supply the XenApp licenses required

Key Components of a VM Hosted Apps Deployment

  • XenDesktop Controller. The XenDesktop Controller consists of services that authenticate users, manage the assembly of user virtual desktop environments, and broker connections between users and their virtual desktops. It controls the state of the desktops, starting and stopping them based on demand and administrative configuration.
  • Desktop Studio. Provides wizards to guide you through the process of setting up your environment, creating your desktops, assigning desktops to users, and publishing applications on desktops.
  • Virtual Desktop Agent. You install the Virtual Desktop Agent on the desktops in your VM hosted apps site. It manages communication between the desktops and the Controller and between the desktops and user devices.

Using VM Hosted Apps With Other XenApp Features

To provision desktops for VM hosted apps, use Machine Creation Services included in XenDesktop 5 or use Provisioning services.

Use Profile manager to manage user personalization settings for VM hosted apps.

Service monitoring and Edgesight resource manager are not compatible with VM hosted apps, but application performance monitoring can be used with VM hosted apps by downloading Edgesight for Desktops.

SmartAuditor is not compatible with VM hosted apps.

Migrating From the Previous Version of VM Hosted Apps

Upgrading the server components of VM hosted apps from the previous version (delivered with XenApp 5 Feature Pack 2 for Windows Server 2003) is not supported.

You can upgrade the Virtual Desktop Agent. When you install the Virtual Desktop Agent, any previous version of it on the virtual desktop is automatically upgraded.

For more information on migrating from this version of VM hosted apps to the previous version, see "Upgrade to XenDesktop 5" in the XenDesktop 5 product documentation located in the Citrix eDocs Archive.

Planning Your VM Hosted Apps Deployment

Plan your VM hosted apps deployment as part of planning your overall XenApp deployment. Determine which applications to deliver using VM hosted apps and consider which types of desktops are most appropriate for the applications you want to deliver, what privileges to give desktop users, and how to secure your desktop environment.

If your VM hosted apps deployment includes virtual machines, install your hosting infrastructure and Provisioning services separately from VM hosted apps site.

A VM hosted apps site can use a dedicated Web Interface server or share one with other VM hosted apps sites and XenApp server farms. When VM hosted apps site shares a Web Interface site with a XenApp server farm, users can access applications from both without regard to how the application is published.

Elements of a VM Hosted Application Site

  • At least one XenDesktop Controller. Adding more controllers to your site increases failover and scalability.
  • A database. By default, a database is created locally when you install the Controller, but you can choose to use a database on a separate server. All VM hosted apps site information is stored on the database; controllers communicate only with the database and not with each other.
  • At least one Desktop Studio. By default, this is installed on servers on which you install the Controller, but you can install it on a separate computer if you want to manage your deployment remotely.
  • Desktop Director (optional). This Web-based tool enables level-1 and level-2 IT Support staff to monitor a VM hosted apps deployment and perform day-to-day maintenance tasks. By default, this is installed on servers on which you install the Controller, but you can choose to install it on a separate computer.
  • A domain controller running Active Directory. Active Directory is required for the XenDesktop infrastructure used by VM hosted apps. Do not install either XenDesktop or the SQL Server database on a domain controller. For more information on Active Directory, see "Active Directory Consideration" in the XenDesktop 5 product documentation located in the Citrix eDocs Archive.
  • Virtual machines or physical computers hosting desktops. These desktops deliver applications to users. You install the Virtual Desktop Agent on these machines to manage communications and broker connections.
  • Web Interface. VM hosted apps requires the version of Web Interface provided with it. XenApp farms and VM hosted apps sites can share the same Web Interface site.
  • Access to a Citrix license server. A VM hosted apps site can use its own license server or share one with other VM hosted apps sites and XenApp server farms.

Security Planning for VM Hosted Apps

Secure access and delivery of applications for your VM hosted apps deployment as you would a XenApp server farm. See XenApp planning and administration topics for information on implementing secure connections to published applications. See Web Interface topics for information on securing the Web Interface.

Isolate VM hosted apps farms from XenApp server farms:
  • Separate them with firewalls
  • Use separate hosting infrastructure and hypervisor pools
Secure the desktops in your VM hosted apps deployment as described in "Security Planning for XenDesktop" in the XenDesktop 5 product documentation located in the Citrix eDocs Archive. When securing desktops for VM hosted apps:
  • Users who are administrators can install software on the desktop even though VM hosted apps does not provide direct access to the desktop
  • Time zone considerations apply to applications that display the time of day
  • Keep in mind that VM hosted apps does not support thin clients

Planning High Availability Deployments

For information on using XenDesktop infrastructure to increase the fault tolerance of your VM hosted app deploy to ensure that business-critical VM-hosted applications are always available, see the XenDesktop topic "High Availability Planning" in the XenDesktop 5 product documentation located in the Citrix eDocs Archive.

Planning Administrator Roles

VM hosted apps allows you to create administrators in any of the five XenDesktop administration roles. For more information, see the XenDesktop topic "Delegated Administration" in the XenDesktop 5 product documentation located in the Citrix eDocs Archive. XenDesktop full administrators and assignment administrators can create and edit VM-hosted applications. Otherwise, these XenDesktop administration roles can perform tasks on your VM hosted apps site as they would on any other XenDesktop site.