With many companies globally looking to cut costs when it comes to IT expenditures, one of the areas of debate and concern is whether or not to go with Microsoft Terminal Services (now known as Remote Desktop Services, or RDS) or XenApp and XenDesktop by Citrix.

More and more companies are reviewing ways to reduce their IT costs and Microsoft Terminal Services/RDS does allow them to accomplish this as compared to Citrix. Those for whom cost is an overarching concern and ultimate deciding factor are making RDS their leading choice.

Making a choice between RDS and Citrix also depends on what OS you are using. For those seeking secure non-Windows client support, a combination of the two platforms may be a considered possibility.

Citrix Technology Professional Steve Greenberg of Thin Client Computing has this to say on the subject:

“Citrix XenApp on top of RDS becomes essential when multi-platform, ubiquitous client support is required. Citrix has the broadest customer support across platforms, all of which can be secured through [Citrix] NetScaler Gateway.”

For some professionals, reduced cost alone does not a viable and long-term virtual network solution make. Many as well don’t need the “ubiquitous client support” offered by Citrix. It’s also about ease of use, simplicity, and facility, which RDS has going for it.

If you want to run Citrix, you’ve got to have Terminal Services (RDS) to make it work.

Citrix ICA vs. RDS

Way back in 2005, Brian Madden called into question the extra $300-$400 expenditure on the Citrix Presentation Server when, according to Madden, the myth that “ICA is better than RDP[…]is false. They are the same.”

Madden goes on to bust myths regarding Citrix supposedly being superior to Microsoft Terminal Services/RDS by saying:

“With more users you need Citrix. This is false. There are plenty of real Terminal Server environments with thousands of users and no Citrix.”

Madden says it’s not the number of users you have on your network that determines whether or not you should choose (or need) Citrix over Terminal Services, but likely the client support or particular features (not necessarily superior) that attend them.

So, Citrix can also be seen as augmenting many of the Terminal Services/RDS features, though 12 years on, the average business professional can well make do with RDS while preceding the extra investment in its counterpart across the aisle.

Why Microsoft RDS Beats Citrix HDX

Fast-forward to 2015, with Workspot telling the world why they should choose Microsoft’s RDS over Citrix HDX. In particular, the Workspot article lays out the salient features of the System Center 2012 RDS Management Pack, including the fact that it provides a “single pane of glass for”:

  • Remote Desktop Session Host
  • Remote Desktop Licensing
  • Remote Desktop Web Access
  • Remote Desktop Gateway
  • Remote Desktop Connection Broker
  • Remote Desktop Virtualization Host

Also, Microsoft RDS supports client OS’s such as Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Workspot also points out that Citrix will cost an additional $150-$350 per user on top of RDS in its first year, plus what some are calling a “Citrix Tax,” or the extra $35-$210 in annual subscription and software maintenance costs.

Workspot sums up their pro-RDS point of view by stating, “With RDS in Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft has produced a well-performing product at a very compelling price.”

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