Citrix Merchandising Server, Citrix Receiver and Citrix Dazzle – Quick Overview

The short version:

Citrix Merchandising Server is a virtual appliance used to deliver and support Citrix Receiver. It is available on both XenServer and VMware platforms. It is Linux based.

Citrix Receiver – Allows users to securely access applications they need from anywhere. It installs and manages applications, securely connect users to the corporate network, and accelerates applications (video).

Citrix Dazzle – An end user interface (also, a plug-in to Citrix Receiver) that allows more flexibility for the user to select the applications they want to run on their individual devices (laptops ,desktops, Ipads and other tablets, android devices, Windows Mobile devices, etc.). It runs on top of Citrix Receiver. It works like an Enterprise App Store where the user self subscribes to whatever apps he/she needs or wants.

The long version:

Citrix Merchandising Server, Citrix Receiver and Citrix Dazzle are three products offered by Citrix that are in line with the concept of Saas (Software as a Service).
You should hear more about these products once they become more main stream, although many large organizations are already using them.

The Citrix Merchandise Server is a XenServer compatible virtual appliance. Basically it means that once you install XenServer (Which is Linux Based), you can download and install Citrix Merchandise Server (CMS) on it and use XenCenter to manage the Merchandise Server to load and manage Citrix Receiver
CMS allows you to:
• Manage the setup of Citrix Receiver.
• Deliver “plug-ins” for multiple types of delivery services including secure access (SSL VPN), online (hosted) applications, offline (streamed) applications, web links, virtualized desktops and document access.
• Centralize management of plug-in updates,
• Enable access to web-based user support

Here is a Citrix PDF that explains in detail the Citrix Merchandise Server and how it works along with Citrix Receiver. The two products work together to deploy applications to the end user as as service. The IT industry came with a new acronym out there called SaaS (Software as a Service) . Citrix Receiver and the Merchandise Server fit the profile of SaaS appliances.

Citrix Receiver can be deployed along with the CMS, or it can be deployed as a stand alone application. The stand alone version lacks some functionality present with the CMS deployment.
If you want to download the Citrix Receviver and all its components (including the CMS), you can download it from here

Citrix Receiver

Delivering applications and desktops as a service
Citrix Receiver for Windows is a new Citrix client that makes accessing virtual applications and desktops on any Windows computer as easy as turning on your TV. Citrix Receiver together with the Citrix Merchandising Server enables IT organizations to “merchandise” virtual applications and desktops across an entire organization. Much like a satellite or cable TV receiver in a broadcast media service, Citrix Receiver works with the Citrix Merchandising Server to provide IT organizations with the functionality to deliver desktops and applications on-demand to any device in any location. The one-time setup for Citrix Receiver is fast and simple. Users point their browser to the configured website and follow the easy step-by-step instructions. Going from a fresh PC or laptop to a fully provisioned client machine with all applications and desktops ready to use, typically requiring less than 15 minutes. Once installed, the Receiver is kept up-to-date with the latest versions of applications, client software, and plug-ins through the Merchandising Server based upon the policies set-up by IT and preferences chosen by the user. Citrix Receiver can be used to access applications hosted on XenApp. desktops hosted on XenDesktop Server farms; enable secure access via Access Gateway Enterprise Edition, and provide the communications capabilities provided by EasyCall Gateways. Additional capabilities will soon be available. They combine to help your organization leverage the full value of the Citrix Delivery Center. The Merchandising Server is located in the data center aside the XenApp, XenDesktop, and Access Gateway infrastructure and provides easy management, setup, distribution, and update of the Citrix Receiver and other Citrix plug-ins.

Both Citrix Receiver and the Merchandising Server are available as a no cost feature of all editions of XenApp, XenDesktop, and Netscaler.

Citrix official wording on Receiver:
“The first self-service storefront for enterprise applications gives corporate users 24×7 on-demand access to the applications and business services that they need to work most efficiently. Citrix Receiver offers a rich, intuitive user experience for self-service IT that is as simple as turning on a TV.

Empower users with an enterprise application store
It’s easy to choose exactly what you need when you need it—applications, your virtual desktop or any IT or business service. Via a simple and personalized enterprise store, users simply log on once to browse or search for the Windows, web or SaaS application or service needed and can even subscribe or unsubscribe with a single click. Users gain access to business services ranging from application requests, to IT support and other corporate resources, getting instant access to the applications and content that they need to be most productive.

Users enjoy freedom of experience, IT maintains control
One-click connect lets users easily browse and select from a full range of business services and applications on-demand while centralized management allows IT to maintain control and instantly advertise, add, update or remove available applications and services to users based on preferences and credentials. With auto-updating capabilities, adding, updating and removing applications and IT services takes minutes, not days, weeks or months.

Citrix Dazzle

If you like the feel and touch of a MAC , Dazzle is for you. Inspired by the way MAC users access their apps, “Dazzle provides users with self-service access to the applications and desktops they need to work productively. Icons for those applications and desktops can be presented on the local desktop, on the Dock, or in the Dazzle folder available from the Finder.

The new, easy-to-use interface allows users to subscribe to applications and desktops hosted on XenApp and XenDesktop servers with a single click, replacing the need for individual connection files used by earlier versions of the plug-in.” (Citrix definition)

This is a good youtube video on Dazzle
More details on CMS

Once CMS is “downloaded from Citrix, there is very little setup other than entering IP information and making a DNS entry for the box. Being a Linux-based device the 1GB of RAM almost seems a bit high, but it is ready for a large user load. But what exactly does this little, 8GB-of-storage-requiring-appliance do? Why it handles all your Citrix client distribution needs!” (read more here, from Adam Oliver, triCerat Engineer)

Statistical note on CMS:
Delivering Computing as a Service for Multiple Work Groups and Locales
“Based on simulated user traffic load, a single Merchandising Server can support up to 10,000 user devices (computers) and can enable one delivery of each delivery type: Pilot and Production. In cases
where more than two deliveries are required or when it makes sense to have Merchandizing Servers
near work groups in different locales, the solution is to use multiple Merchandising Servers.
For example if you have XenApp farms, XenDesktop farms, EasyCall, or Access Gateways regionally
deployed, you can deploy Merchandising Servers in each region so that regional users are automatically
configured to access the correct regional farms and gateways as illustrated below.
Ensuring” (extracted from the Citrix Receiver Deployment guide v1.07)

Good video on CMS, , Citrix Receiver and Dazzle here


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