The XenDesktop virtualization product, which combines three separate capabilities from Xen and Citrix, will stretch from the host server to the individual desktops.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

October 22, 2007

3 Min Read

Citrix announced it has completed its $500 million acquisition of virtualization supplier XenSource and is offering two new products based on the Xen hypervisor, Citrix XenServer and Citrix XenDesktop. Citrix XenServer is the repackaged Xen hypervisor for generating virtual machines on servers.

Citrix's flagship product, Presentation Server, has been an early, high-end enabler of virtualized applications for end users from a central point of administration. Citrix will add XenDesktop in the first half of 2008, which combines three previously separate capabilities of Xen and Citrix. XenDesktop includes a virtual desktop broker to talk to back-end systems on behalf of end users, a provisioning server to stream virtual desktops to end users, as well as Xen's capability to generate virtual machines.

When Citrix XenDesktop becomes available, Citrix's virtualization products will stretch from the host server to the details of the user's desktop. "Our strong belief has been the desktop space is ready to go mainstream. But it won't happen until someone like Citrix addresses the virtualization issues there," said Wes Wasson, chief strategy officer at Citrix. Virtualizing a single desktop is a simple matter with today's products, like Microsoft's Virtual Server or VMware's VMware Server. But virtualizing desktops for thousands of end users in different roles, while maintaining secure user identification, engenders a higher level of complexity.

XenDesktop will deliver a Windows desktop to any worker over any network, said Wesson.

Citrix in effect plans to give customers the option of having users access virtualized Office applications on a central server from either an unvirtualized or a virtualized desktop. The virtualized desktop may run either on a central server or on the end user's own machine, streamed there through a provisioning server gained in Citrix's 2006 acquisition of Ardence.

The array of desktop virtualization options is typically needed to allow an enterprise to sort out its varied needs.

Citrix XenServer and XenDesktop are the first products coming out of the new virtualization and management division of Citrix, which consists of the 75 former employees of XenSource. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company plans to expand the division by 400% over the next 12 months, said John Bara, former XenSource VP of marketing and now chief operating officer of the new division. Former CEO of XenSource, Peter Levine, is the new senior VP of the unit. Simon Crosby, cofounder of XenSource and its former CTO, will serve in the same role in the new division.

Citrix made these announcements Monday, the opening day of its iForum user conference in Las Vegas. In addition, Citrix said it will add EasyCall as a technology that can be added to an enterprise's user applications.

EasyCall allows an end user to mouse over a phone number in an application, prompting it to show a pop-up dialer. By clicking on the dialer, the user's phone is connected to the number by the company's existing phone system, said Gordon Payne, senior VP of the delivery systems division.

EasyCall is available to work with Presentation Server for Windows applications or Citrix NetScaler, an appliance for accelerating Web applications. EasyCall is a standard feature on NetScaler and Presentation Server in their platinum editions.

Citrix also announced SmartAuditor, a feature of Presentation Server that helps an IT manager record and play back a specific application session as part of an enterprise's risk management. SmartAuditor gives a firm the ability to meet compliance requirements by being able to document and demonstrate employee activity in connection with sensitive transactions or private data. SmartAuditor is now a standard feature on Presentation Server.

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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