We just learned that Citrix has released VDI-in-a-Box (“ViaB”) v5.1. There are a number of new features in ViaB v5.1, which you can read about in the Citrix on-line documentation library, but two of these features are particularly significant:
- Personal vDisks – This feature was introduced in the most recent release of XenDesktop, but until now was not available in ViaB. It pretty much eliminates the need to ever provision dedicated virtual desktops for anyone, because the personal vDisk can store user data, personalization information, and even user-installed applications that then get merged at logon time with the VM that’s provisioned from your master image. You can update your master provisioning image at will without affecting what’s stored in the users’ personal vdisks.
- Virtual IP – In prior versions of ViaB, users needed to explicitly point a browser at the IP address of one of the servers in your ViaB grid. If that server failed, they needed to explicitly point a browser at a different server in the grid. That obviously creates an opportunity for user confusion. The only way around it was to have some kind of load-balancer (e.g., NetScaler) in front of your ViaB grid. But with v5.1, your grid now has a virtual IP address. That virtual IP address is initially serviced by one of the servers in the grid, but if that server fails, another server will automatically take over.
There are several other feature enhancements, including tighter integration with the NetScaler-powered CAG Enterprise, support for HDX v5.6 Feature Pack 1, support for virtual desktops with multiple virtual CPUs, etc., and you can read all about them at the documentation link provided above. But the addition of personal vDisks and a grid-wide virtual IP address take care of what were, in our opinion, the two biggest things that ViaB was lacking compared to its big brother, XenDesktop. Well played, Citrix.