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Citrix DaaS: How to deploy virtual desktops as a service provider

Need a leg up in the desktop-as-a-service market? Citrix offers business resources, marketing assistance and a reference architecture to help service providers get started.

Citrix desktop as a service allows service provider partners to deliver Citrix virtual desktops as customized cloud-based services to a variety of businesses of various types.

Citrix has set up a program to provide its partners with the products and services they need to offer customers Citrix-based desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) products. Citrix DaaS products enable customers to add or remove desktops and reduce the load on internal IT resources. They also provide customers with access to the latest Citrix virtualization technologies.

The Citrix DaaS picture

In response to the growing DaaS trend, Citrix moved aggressively in the market, offering its virtual-based products to a wide range of service providers. Citrix licenses its products to the providers, who in turn offer them as DaaS and other services to their customers.

The service providers are responsible for implementing and managing Citrix products. They host and administer the systems and perform all software updates, system backups, antivirus protections and other infrastructure concerns. They're also responsible for providing customers with technical support and for responding to their questions and issues.

Service providers can implement Citrix DaaS in data centers, public clouds or private clouds, depending on what best suits their customers.

To access the Citrix DaaS desktops, service provider customers simply download an app to their local devices and log into the virtual systems. There, they have complete access to their desktop applications and data. Plus, end users have the flexibility to access their desktops anywhere they have internet services.

Citrix offers Service Provider Program

Citrix established the Service Provider Program to work with partners that want to sell Citrix-based services. It delivers the technical and business resources service providers need to offer Citrix DaaS to their customers. The program's goal is to help service providers build DaaS products they can customize to meet their customers' needs.

Citrix structured the program to maximize the number of customers it can serve from the same base software by utilizing a multitenant architecture that supports high density and utilization levels.

Service providers can implement Citrix DaaS in data centers, public clouds or private clouds, depending on what best suits their customers.

In addition to business and marketing resources, Citrix also offers its partners the Citrix Service Provider Reference Architecture, which gives them a guide for designing DaaS products. The reference architecture provides field-tested best practices that take into account the service provider's need for multitenant isolation and high availability, while being able to deliver flexible, cost-effective products to their customers.

As with other cloud services, service provider customers can benefit from DaaS because they do not need to implement or manage their own virtual desktop infrastructure. There are no servers or hardware to maintain and no software to install or update, which leaves more time for customers to focus on business.

Customers can also scale up and down as necessary, often paying for only what they need at the time they need it. Pay-as-you-go applies to licensing as well and the model makes it more cost-effective to accommodate the ebb and flow of customer demands. The program follows a monthly usage-based licensing model that covers a wide range of Citrix products.

Providers that want to offer DaaS need to license XenDesktop. The partner program also allows partners to create comprehensive hosted workspaces that, in addition to hosted desktops, can include email and messaging services; office productivity and line-of-business applications; file sharing and syncing; and mobile device management. All of this requires additional Citrix products.

Citrix service providers can also offer their customers a 30-day free trial so they can try out Citrix DaaS before committing to the service.

For Citrix to track partner use of the DaaS products, all providers must submit a monthly usage report within 10 business days after each calendar month, or risk being dropped from the Citrix family. Providers can use the Citrix Usage Collector, an attachment to the Citrix license server that monitors XenDesktop and XenApp and sends anonymous usage data back to Citrix.

Citrix DaaS: Partner considerations

There's nothing revolutionary about partner programs like the Citrix Service Provider Program. Companies such as Microsoft have been pushing these partnerships for years. And there's nothing groundbreaking about Citrix's DaaS.

Like any cloud service, there are advantages and disadvantages to Citrix DaaS. Service providers must help their clients weigh ongoing license fees against the high upfront costs that come with an on-premises product. At the same time, services providers must also take into account how clients might react to the lack of control that goes with a cloud service, especially when security and compliance are concerns.

Then there are the pros and cons of the virtual desktop itself, with its dependence on network access and competition for network resources, along with the ever-haunting question of Windows licensing in a virtual deployment.

For some organizations, however, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, Citrix DaaS could prove viable under the right circumstances. Just know all vendors are not created equal, so be sure to do a little research before signing on the dotted line.

Next Steps

Learn about creating a virtual desktop business

Read about Citrix channel developments

View a complete guide to DaaS vendors

Dig Deeper on Desktop virtualization technology and services