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Microsoft, Citrix Team Up for App Delivery From Cloud

As part of the announcement, Microsoft said that the Azure RemoteApp service is being killed.

Microsoft is partnering with Citrix to deliver applications from the cloud. The two companies, already very closely aligned on many fronts, are teaming up again with a new Citrix application virtualization service.

Microsoft today announced it will shut down the Azure RemoteApp service launched two years ago as an online alternative to remote desktop Windows application services and the company's applications virtualization (App-V) technology; as part of that transition, it will shift those efforts to helping Citrix build and roll out its new cloud-based iteration of its XenApp platform.

Some history: the companies announced a broad expansion of their decades-long partnership back in May, when Citrix agreed to use the Microsoft Azure cloud as the backplane for its new portfolio of services. At that time, new Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinov, a former Microsoft executive, pledged to move all of the company's core software offerings, including Xen Desktop, XenApp and NetScaler, to the cloud. The two companies said this move is part of that effort.

"Customers have provided us consistent feedback that they want a comprehensive, end-to-end, cloud-based solution for delivering Windows apps," Microsoft said in a post announcing the plan on its Enterprise Mobility and Security Blog. "The best way for us to deliver this is with Citrix through a new service currently under development. This new Citrix service will combine the simplicity of application remoting and the scalability of Azure with the security, management and performance benefits of XenApp, to deliver Windows applications to any employee on any device."

Microsoft said it will provide more information on the new offering in the comping months. Bill Burley, corporate VP and general manager of Citrix's Workspace Services Business Unit, described in a blog post the joint effort between Citrix and Microsoft. He called it "RemoteApp 2.0," in which it will provide the "simplicity and speed" of Azure RemoteApp, with the core functions of Citrix XenApp. Burley signaled this move is part of the company's new Citrix Cloud focus, centered around simplifying the delivery of virtualized desktops and applications as a service.

"The Citrix Cloud XenApp and XenDesktop service provides our enterprise customers with superior performance and flexibility by moving the backend infrastructure to the cloud," Burley said. "Now Citrix can combine the power and flexibility of our Citrix Cloud platform including the industry-leading HDX user experience and extend the original simple, prescriptive, and easy-to-consume vision of Microsoft Azure RemoteApp by orchestrating the applications in the cloud as well. This offering will radically simplify app delivery without sacrificing management or end user experience."

Burley also said Citrix and Microsoft are developing and delivering the new Citrix Cloud XenApp service in tandem with its the planned XenDesktop for Windows on Azure service, which the company announced at its May Synergy conference.

"By integrating all these efforts across the board, both Citrix and Microsoft will be able to drive down the cost of app and desktop delivery while still providing enhanced security, management and application performance from one of the industry's largest public clouds: Microsoft Azure," Burley blogged.

Microsoft said it will continue to operate and support its Azure RemoteApp customers through Aug. 31, 2017. The company also said it's working with customers on a transition plan. The company will stop offering new AzureRemote App purchases on Oct. 1. In addition to the new Citrix service, customers could opt for Remote Desktop Services deployed on Azure IaaS, or by working with Microsoft's hosting partners. It was not immediately clear how -- or even if -- Microsoft and its partners will sell the service, although more will be revealed at next month's Ignite conference in Atlanta.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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