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Citrix Barcelona: Clouds, Mobility Take Top Billing

Citrix is getting good use of its Synergy bully pulpit in Barcelona by making extensive announcements to fortify its cloud and consumerization initiatives. Major cloud-related thrusts include protecting its lucrative Windows applications and desktop business with a focus on two new releases of Project Avalon. On the consumerization side, Citrix has focused on its lynchpin Citrix Receiver product, while unveiling a new version of XenClient and addressing unsecure consumer cloud services via Citrix ShareFile with StorageZones.

The final piece in Citrix's consumerization armada is a pumped-up version of Citrix CloudGateway with Mobile Device Experience (MDX) technology designed to provide CloudGateway with a set of mobile application technologies that bring comprehensive security and control over native iOS, Android and HTML apps.

On the cloud front, Citrix made it clear that even though Windows apps no longer hold the same position of preeminence that they did pre-mobility, these apps are still a very high priority for the company, which is providing users with "a simple, pragmatic path to the cloud," created to make it easier for those users to not only transform Windows apps and desktops into cloud services, but to build Amazon style clouds, connect to inexpensive capacity in third-party clouds, and deliver a spectrum of apps, data and video services over any network.

Project Avalon is extremely important to Citrix, and the intensity of the company's commitment to it is reflected in the two new releases, Excalibur and Merlin. Excalibur will be available this quarter as a tech preview, and was created to "simplify the management of virtual apps and desktops, giving Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop users a single, unified way to design and deliver any mix of virtual applications and desktops from a common management console, and deliver them to end users with any mix of virtual delivery technologies." Excalibur also features enhanced HDX high-definition experience technology in the areas of video, graphics and rich media for mobile devices.

Merlin will be available as a tech preview in the first half of 2013, and is being touted by Citrix for its ability to help users quickly role out personalized Windows apps in public cloud environments across individual or multiple sites while employing public clouds in a "capacity-on-demand" methodology to support fluctuating business needs. The goal is to enable customers to adopt new upgrades and features at their convenience, which will allow them to mix and match disparate versions of Windows Server, XenDesktop and Xen App in a single, hybrid cloud.

Citrix also announced new support for Citrix CloudPlatform, powered by Apache CloudStack, which is aimed at making it easier for users to build Amazon-style clouds. Citrix says over 500 CloudStack clouds are being deployed each month, and the CloudStack community now has over 30,000 members.

Citrix Cloudbridge is a key cog in Citrix's effort to make it easy for enterprises to link their datacenters and private clouds to external, third-party cloud services. The company described two new strategic CloudBridge initiatives, saying, "The new Citrix CloudBridge for Amazon Web Services program, available in November, will allow companies to move production workloads securely and transparently between private datacenters and the Amazon cloud." These companies will reportedly be able to consume CloudBridge as a cloud service from Amazon on a usage-based model, avoiding infrastructure investments. The second CloudBridge initiative is Citrix CloudBridge for Microsoft Windows Azure, which will "extend this same value to customers of the Azure cloud."

When it came to coining a nifty tagline for consumerization , Citrix went with "Citrix Gives Customers the Power to Say Yes to Enterprise Mobility at Citrix Synergy Barcelona." That means yes to the company's universal and software client, Citrix Receiver, which is now free on consumer app stores, and reportedly supports over three billion diverse devices.

Citrix will be looking for more yes answers from buyers of the most recent version of XenClient, which provides virtual desktops to go with the millions of new, lightweight Ultrabooks. XenClient for Ultrabooks employs a client-side hypervisor that runs directly on the laptop, but is linked to corporate data centers for centralized synchronization and management. The big takeaway for users here is getting all of the power of a local Windows experience on laptops and Ultrabooks even when they are disconnected from the network -- plus their changes are automatically synched with a central image in a datacenter when they reconnect. Another takeaway: All benefits of VDI are extended to mobile workers with "no compromise in performance or security."

Mobile device security is a leading headache for IT departments, who are trying to keep track of the many devices finding their way into corporate computing environments. The vacuum in this area has led users to rely on consumer cloud services such as Dropbox, that offer less than stellar security. The newly introduced Citrix solution to this burgeoning problem is Citrix ShareFile with StorageZones, which provides employees with "flexibility, while making it possible for IT to choose where corporate data is stored, including on-premise, within their own, secure datacenters."

Citrix notes, "Because ShareFile supports enterprise client-side security, corporate data accessed on personal devices is encrypted and can remotely wiped by the business at any time if the employee leaves the company, or the device is lost or stolen."

When it comes to the management of mobile apps, data and devices into a single, unified controlled point, Citrix relies on Citrix Cloud Gateway, and the company showed it off at Synergy with a live, public demo of the latest CloudGateway version with MDX. The product now has a set of mobile app management technologies that provide security and control over native iOS, Android and HTML 5 apps. Via its integration with the new Me@Work mobile app family, Citrix says Cloud Gateway is the "first product to offer customers a single unified control point for any mix of mobile, web, SaaS and Windows app and data, delivered to of corporate and personal devices."

Under the guidance of Citrix chief Mark Templeton, the company is at least staying step-for-step with VMware and it's not hard to make the argument that this mobility-based extension of Citrix's traditional desktop leadership is putting it in the position of numero uno.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 10/18/2012 at 12:48 PM


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