This article summarizes and clarifies two Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) initiatives that involve Citrix. Citrix is a valuable Microsoft partner who understands the value that Lync brings to customers. Citrix has developed two solutions: the Lync 2013 VDI plugin solution over Dynamic Virtual Channels (DVCs), and the Citrix HDX Optimization Pack for Microsoft Lync. This article describes these solutions and highlights the differences in terms of support.

Author: Tarek Radi, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft

Article publication date: December 21 , 2012

Product version: Lync 2010, Lync Server 2010, Lync Server 2013 , Lync 2013

Solution #1: The Lync 2013 VDI plugin solution that runs over DVC APIs

a. What is it?

For in-depth information read Microsoft Lync 2013 in a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure on NextHop and XenDesktop support for the new Microsoft Lync on the Citrix blog.

For this solution, Microsoft developed the Lync 2013 VDI plugin for Windows. The plugin relies on DVC APIs for bootstrapping and pairing with the Lync 2013 Client running in the VM. By leveraging DVC APIs, cross-platform functionality is possible — such as Microsoft’s RDP, Citrix’s ICA, VMware PCoIP, and so forth. With the release of Lync 2013, Microsoft will support RDP VDI setups.

Citrix is part of the Lync 2013 VDI Partner Program. They are working on ICA and RDP support and in their Excalibur release are implementing the Lync 2013 VDI plugin in XenDesktop VDI configurations. The Lync 2013 VDI plug-in will be supported by Citrix with XenApp 6 and above, using the latest version of Citrix Receiver.

b. What’s the support story?

This solution will be jointly supported by Microsoft and Citrix. The Lync Partner Engineering team is in the process of creating a Lync 2013 Client Virtualization whitepaper, similar to the Client Virtualization in Microsoft Lync 2010. We plan to update this article with a reference to that whitepaper when it is available.

c. Where do I start?

Customers need to install/upgrade to the latest XenDesktop or XenApp infrastructure, use the latest Citrix Receiver, install the Lync 2013 VDI plugin on the user’s Windows device, install the Lync 2013 client in the VM, and install and deploy the Lync 2013 Server. The Lync 2013 VDI plugin is available for download at Microsoft Lync VDI 2013 plugin, and the Lync 2013 Client and Lync 2013 Server are currently available for download only for Tech Net subscribers.

NOTE: to use the Lync Client with the Citrix infrastructure requires users to obtain the proper licensing from Microsoft for Lync 2013, and the proper licensing from Citrix for their bits..

d. Where can I get a hold of the Citrix DVC API implementation?

Citrix has made good progress integrating DVC APIs into the Citrix Receiver and their backend infrastructure, to support the Lync 2013 VDI plugin over XenApp and XenDesktop deployments. Citrix is kicking off a Tech Preview in Q1 of 2013. Please reach out directly to your local Citrix representative if you would like to sign up for this program. As part of this program, you receive Citrix bits and documentation.

e. User/Access platforms supported:

Windows 7 Service Pack 1, Windows 8, Windows Embedded Standard 7

Solution #2: The Citrix HDX Optimization Pack for Microsoft Lync

a. What is it?

Today this Citrix solution is only available for Lync 2010. Citrix is working on a Lync 2013 version. This solution disables native Lync Audio and Video for the VDI user. Instead, it introduces an additional Citrix UI (built using the Lync UI SDK) that shows Audio and Video communication commands. When activate the A/V is generated using the Citrix HDX infrastructure.  This includes a plugin installed on the access machine called the HDX RealTime Media Engine, which includes the Microsoft proprietary RT Audio and RT Video codecs as well as various industry-standard codecs such as H.264 and H.263.

Customers who have Lync 2010 and need to enable Audio and Video (without the use of an IP phone) can consider installing/trying this solution. For more information about this solution from Citrix, see Release 1.1 of the Optimization Pack for Microsoft Lync and HDX RealTime Optimization Pack for Microsoft Lync..

b. What’s the support story?

This solution was developed and tested by Citrix, not Microsoft. Naturally, it is supported by Citrix and not Microsoft. Please see Technical Support of Microsoft Lync on XenDesktop for the official Citrix support statement, or contact your local Citrix representative for any additional support questions or issues about the Citrix HDX Optimization Pack for Microsoft Lync.

Support FAQ

Why isn’t it supported by Microsoft?

When Microsoft “supports” a particular configuration, that configuration has been explicitly validated by Microsoft, or confirmed to follow the industry best practice standards. This solution has not been validated by Microsoft. Third-party vendors may support configurations not supported by Microsoft. In those situations, the customer must contact the third-party vendor for support and not Microsoft.

What’s the alternative?

If the customer is looking for a Microsoft-supported Lync 2013 VDI configuration, then Microsoft recommends they deploy the Lync 2013 VDI plugin, run it over RDP for now (Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp can be configured to use RDP), and then move back to the ICA protocol (if desired) when Citrix releases their solution to support the Lync 2013 VDI plugin. As mentioned earlier in this article, Citrix is working hard on that solution at this time. Please reach out to your local Citrix representative if you want to join the Citrix Tech Preview program.

If a customer installs this solution and then experiences a non-A/V issue, what support is available to them from Microsoft?

To provide customer support, we ask that customers uninstall the Citrix HDX Optimization Pack for Microsoft Lync and try to reproduce the issue. If the issue is reproducible, then they can take the issue through Microsoft support channels. If the issue is not reproducible, then we recommend they escalate this issue to Citrix.

c. Where do I start?

Citrix has already delivered the HDX Optimization Pack for Lync 2010. For configuration instructions, see the HDX RealTime Optimization Pack for Microsoft Lync and How to Configure HDX RealTime Optimization Pack for Microsoft Lync. Please reach out to your local Citrix representative for pricing, costing structure and download instructions.

d. User/Access platforms supported:

Windows 7 Service Pack 1, Windows 8, Windows Embedded Standard 7, Mac, and Linux.

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