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Citrix Refreshes XenServer Virtualization Platform

Storage efficiency and cloud integration features reduce desktop virtualization costs and complexity, according to Citrix.
Citrix Systems introduced a new version of Citrix XenServer on Wednesday, adding storage, networking and management features for server and desktop virtualization to the company's virtualization platform.

For small-to-midsize businesses, as well as integrators and enterprises, these new features can reduce the cost and complexity to acquire, deploy and manage virtualization, in turn making it easier for even small companies to take advantage of virtualization's benefits.

According to Citrix, about 80% of the read/write activity by virtualized desktops that use shared images involve non-persistent or temporary data that doesn't need to be saved to a NAS or SAN. Citrix's IntelliCache storage optimization technology can off-load this traffic onto less expensive server-side hard drives or solid-state drives, reducing the cost of network storage, and avoiding operations that slow down performance.

IntelliCache is included in the free version of XenServer at no additional charge, and will be supported in an upcoming release of reference architecture for Citrix XenDesktop 5.

"One of the biggest inhibitors to adopting external cloud services is securely unifying existing network and cloud resources into a single pool of capacity that can support the seamless migration of services between the datacenter and external cloud providers," said Citrix.

The new release of XenServer integrates "Distributed Virtual Switching (DVS) technology, which leverages industry standard protocols like OpenFlow to create an integrated network fabric that makes it easy to seamlessly manage on-premise and off-premise resources," said Citrix. This allows IT administrators to manage network traffic on a global basis, "providing network fault tolerance, improving traffic isolation, and binding network policies and 'personalities' to each VM that stay with them as they move across virtual boundaries, including external cloud environments."

Virtual switching capability is included in the free version of XenServer at no additional charge; advanced controls are available in upgrade editions.

XenServer's new VM protection and recovery features let IT administrators schedule automatic snapshots of VM disk and memory states, and archive these images to a specified storage location, to ensure the continuity and ongoing protection of critical data. The updated XenServer Web Management Console can be accessed from any browser, and lets VDI administrators provide application owners with direct access to the VMs they are responsible for.

"These features will make XenServer more cost effective, as well as easier to deploy and manage," commented Mark Bowker, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group.

According to Citrix, XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 1 will be available in Q4. The new VDI storage optimizations enabled via IntelliCache technology will be supported in an upcoming release of reference architecture for XenDesktop 5, the company’s open and comprehensive desktop virtualization solution that delivers any type of virtual desktop and application, to any device, anywhere.