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Citrix Acquires App Virtualization Company Unidesk

Unidesk packages apps as modular virtual disk "layers."

Citrix today filled out more of its Desktop-as-a-Service portfolio with the acquisition of Unidesk. The company announced the purchase during the opening day of its Citrix Summit 2017 conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Unidesk uses what it calls "layering" to separate applications, such as the Microsoft Office suite, from the underlying operating system, making the applications portable. They become virtual "disks," and administrators can combine applications and deliver them on a per-user basis. They can originate anywhere, including on-premises, or via private, hybrid or public clouds.

An Agnostic View
These virtual disk layers are hypervisor-agnostic, so they can be used with VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, KVM or any other hypervisor out there. The layers can also be ported to public clouds like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services with no repackaging.

In addition, Unidesk says its layers can be used across any "workspace delivery solution, including Horizon, RDS, XenApp, XenDesktop, or Workspot; or any provisioning solution, including Citrix Provisioning Services, Machine Creation Services, and VMware View Composer." 

In press release, Citrix outlined what it feels is a major benefit of the technology it just acquired:

"Only Unidesk offers full-stack layering technology, which enhances compatibility by layering the entire Windows workspace as modular virtual disks, including the Windows operating system itself (OS layer), apps (app layers), and a writable persistent layer that captures all user settings, apps, and data."

For the past year, Citrix has re-focused its core business around delivering desktops and applications remotely. It sold off several other businesses to put its time into products like XenApp and XenDesktop. The Unidesk purchase will accelerate the development of those products, according to Jeroen van Rotterdam, senior vice president of Engineering at Citrix. "By incorporating Unidesk technology into XenApp and XenDesktop, Citrix advances its industry leadership by offering the most powerful and easy [way] to deploy application layering solution available for delivering and managing app and desktops in the cloud, on-premises and in hybrid deployment environments."

The press release also said that Citrix will continue to sell Unidesk as a standalone product for VMware Horizon and Microsoft virtual desktop deployment customers.

The Difference a Year Makes
The acquisition comes almost exactly one year after Kirill Tatarinov was named Citrix president and CEO. That came on Jan. 20, 2016, and he started five days later. Tatarinov replaced Interim CEO Robert Calderoni, who took over for Citrix Systems Inc. founder Mark Templeton in July 2015. Templeton helmed Citrix for 14 years.

Tatarinov came aboard shortly after big changes started to happen at Citrix. In November 2014, the company declared that it was divesting itself of its GoTo products, including GoToAssist,  GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, GoToTraining, GoToWebinar, Grasshopper and OpenVoice. It did so to focus on what it called more "strategic" products like XenApp, XenDesktop, XenMobile, ShareFile and NetScaler.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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