Virtualizing ArcGIS Pro Leveraging Citrix AppDisk

Here at ESRI’s Performance Engineering Department in Redlands California, we have received multiple requests to virtualize ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Desktop. While ArcGIS Pro can be easily virtualized with leading virtualization vendors, we noticed our customers looking deeper into virtualization strategies to simplify application deployments while enhancing security and delivery time for their users.


Citrix AppDisk is one such virtualization solution available to Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop 7.8 and above Platinum customers. AppDisk enables customers to manage applications independently from the underlying master image. This reduces virtual machine sprawl by eliminating redundant departmental master images containing the same applications.  IT departments can now deploy application disks that contain only the applications that users need and patch only one master image, simplifying application delivery. For organizations who choose to include AppDNA in addition to AppDisk, AppDNA will perform compatibility and dependency analysis of the applications being deployed on an AppDisk avoiding tedious and time consuming analysis of each application.

The Testing Environment

Our ESRI test environment utilized two physical hosts running a VMware ESXi 6.5 hypervisor. The management server, a Dell PowerEdge M620, which hosted Citrix Studio version 7.13, StoreFront (, Licensing, & AppDNA. The AppDisk and VM workload was hosted on a Dell PowerEdge R730 server utilizing local storage and two NVIDIA Tesla M60 GPU cards. We created a base Windows 10 x64 master VM on the R730, fully patched it, and only installed the necessary software like the Citrix VDA (Virtual Delivery Agent), Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and NVIDIA Grid drivers (ver. 369.95). We then created a pooled random Desktop machine catalog of 24 VMs.

Testing Criteria

We set out to measure two items in this test. The first, to determine if AppDisk would run an ArcGIS Pro 3D rendering test as smooth as a locally installed version of the application. The second test item, was to determine how long it would take to access ArcGIS Pro after login from both the AppDisk attached deployment and the locally installed application versions. Here were our results:

The Results

Our testing results and user experience proved that ArcGIS Pro produced nearly identical results when virtualized with AppDisk or a locally installed copy of the application. Profile load times were negligibly higher with the implementation of an AppDisk.  If you are aiming to deploy and manage applications apart from your gold image to reduce VM sprawl and redundant patching of departmental disks, this technology will allow you to do so with minimal user impact.

In January 2017, Citrix announced the purchase of UniDesk, an application virtualization company. During Citrix Synergy 2017, Citrix announced the release of Citrix App Layering 4.2, which is the replacement technology for Citrix AppDisk.

About the author

Robert Brown

In all things Virtualized @work, Serial bike rider and goal executor. In love with the outdoors.


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