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XenDesktop First To Achieve Enterprise-Ready Desktop Virtualization Status

When it comes to PR victories, Citrix won a big one last week. It happened when Chris Wolf, research VP at Gartner, announced that with the release of XenDesktop 4 Platinum edition suite, Citrix became the first vendor to meet all of Burton Group's server hosted virtual desktop (SHVD) evaluation criteria.

Earlier this year, Wolf wrote an exhaustive, five-month study for Burton Group (currently being absorbed by Gartner), in which he worked with a wide cross section of desktop virtualization interest groups, including early user adopters and vendors, in order to amass a detailed study of products in this potentially lucrative marketplace.

"In the end, vendors were supportive of the criteria in spite of the fact that no one met all of our requirements," Chris says. "The reason for the support was simple--customers were telling vendors they needed the same elements that we identified in the criteria."

Chris compliments Citrix for announcing from the stage at its May Synergy conference that XenDesktop had not passed muster. Asked if he thought that VMware's subsequent and hasty decision to withhold the debut of View 4.5 was attributable to its shortcomings in the SHVD study, he stops short of a definitive "Yes," but does nothing to dispel the notion.

The study evaluated and scored SHVD platforms across three stratifications. The first was "Required," the second was "Preferred," and the third was "Optional." The assessment was broken out into major focus areas, including user experience, security and management. As of this May, no platform included all 52 features Wolf believes are required for typical enterprises.

At that time, the study found that XenDesktop 4 did not have sufficient role-based access controls (RBACs) for delegating administrative responsibilities, administrative change logging capabilities for providing audit trails for all administrative actions, and enterprise-class support (three-year minimum) for all XenDesktop 4 products in XenDesktop 4's Platinum portfolio.

The landscape has now changed with XenDesktop 4 SP1, as all three of the above shortcomings have been corrected, along with other improvements. Even though the SP1 release satisfied 76 percent of his report's preferred features, Chris notes there is still room for improvement, starting with management consolidation in order to reduce the number of XenDesktop consoles required (a common criticism of Citrix across the board). He also cites the need to enhance the management complexity for very large environments, saying, "In Citrix's reference architecture, each XenDesktop 4 Desktop Delivery Controller (DDC) runs 5,000 domains to horizontally scale XenDesktop management, placing greater challenges on areas such as configuration management."

As expected, Sumit Dhawan, who is VP for Citrix XenDesktop and responsible for the company's desktop virtualization strategy, welcomes the good news from the study, and views it as a confirmation of the rapid progress Citrix has made in this area. He lauds the criteria the study was based on, says it portrays the growing acceptance of desktop virtualization at large corporations, and claims Citrix has come back from its underdog position in 2008 to now lead the market and increasingly separate itself from VMware.

Dhawan says that role-based access control is really role-based administrative control, and that Citrix has always had "some" role-based administrative control that enabled either help desk or full administration.

What he says Citrix didn't have at a granular level was the ability for a master administrator to set up someone who could do everything a help desk user can do, plus have the ability to create virtual desktops for new employees, and maintain application control over those desktops.

Now that Citrix has made it easier for customers to get successfully started in their desktop virtualization environments, Dhawan says the next goal is to ensure that large-scale enterprise implementations are also succeeding, saying, "That's exactly what we have done with implementing features such as detail configuration logging, so you can log which administrator has changed what function in the product. You can also decide which administrator has what level of functionality to administer. You now have many more enterprise levels and features when you plan to scale up the implementation to 10,000, 20,000 virtual desktops or more."

Question: Do you believe XenDesktop 4 is superior to View 4?

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 08/09/2010 at 12:48 PM


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