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XenClient is a Heavy Metal Hit

By officially unveiling Citrix XenClient, rolling out a series of HDX "Nitro" technologies, and collaborating with Wyse and McAfee on zero client and integrated security management, respectively, Citrix took full advantage of its Synergy 2010 bully pulpit to promote desktop virtualization as a mainstream technology and proclaim its position as market leader.

XenClient--which Citrix quickly notes is based on XenServer--was clearly the star of day one at Synergy, as Citrix bragged on the ability of its Intel vPro-powered bare-metal architecture to provide client-side virtualization that enables centrally managed virtual desktops to "run directly on corporate desktops and PCs, even when they are disconnected from the network."

The concept of companies running multiple virtual desktops on the same corporate owned laptop is "near and dear" to the heart of CEO Mark Templeton, who embraces the notion of employee-owned PCs that can separately and securely support personal and professional computing environments.

Speaking of Templeton, he seemed to be enjoying himself as he strutted triumphantly across the stage proclaiming the success of huge Citrix desktop virtualization environments in large enterprise settings.

In addition to XenClient's bare metal hypervisor, which enables each VM to run side by side directly on hardware, as opposed to being hosted within the installed operating system, the new product features two primary components: Citrix Receiver, a "lightweight client that lets users create and manage their own local virtual desktops, or access centrally managed corporate virtual desktops," and Synchronizer, which connects with XenClient laptops to download centrally managed virtual desktops. "Synchronizer enables user data to be backed up automatically through a secure connection over the Internet, and allows IT to define security policies for managed laptops, disable lost or stolen XenClient laptops and restore a user's virtual desktop on any XenClient-based laptop," Citrix said.

Via XenClient Express, the XenClient package is available for public download. It is intended for organizations to trial small deployments. Citrix said XenClient will be generally available with the next release of XenDesktop later this year.

HDX "Nitro" Technologies
Anxious to retain what many experts call a competitive advantage over VMware View 4 (which remains the standard bearer until VMware shakes the bugs out of v4.5) Citrix introduced its series of HDX "Nitro" technologies that are planned for upcoming releases of Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp. No dates for their debut were announced.

The company said Nitro technologies, which are on display at Synergy this week, will include enhancements from several development projects designed to promote faster across-the-board performance, enable instant app launch, provide faster printing at a fraction of the bandwidth, support accelerated WAN speed and efficiency, and produce dynamic sense-and-respond rendering.

HDX Happening Now with Wyse Xenith
Wyse leveraged its position with Citrix to take the wraps off Wyse Xenith, which it calls "the industry's first zero client with Citrix HDX technology." (Just in case you're wondering, Pano Logic has thrown its lot in with View.) Quick value prop: Xenith improves on traditional client devices by eliminating management and security hassles while providing the much ballyhooed high-def HDX user experience. In this zero client environment, there is zero local configuration to worry about, zero delays because there is no operating system to boot, and zero malware because Xenith has no "attack surface." In addition, it reduces energy expenses, auto-discovers XenDesktop straight out of the box, and "launches a full Windows desktop in seconds."

Because it is Citrix Ready, Xenith will also accept new HDX features as they are released by Citrix and Wyse. The product will be available in June.

Wyse also introduced Wyse PC Extender virtualization software that enables users to extend the life of existing PCs as they implement virtual desktop strategies. According to Wyse, "Wyse PC Extender enables organizations to buy thin clients they can afford, and turn the remaining PCs into thin clients, extending their usefulness for another year or two." Which puts Wyse in a great position to service legacy customers and then upsell to them when they enter their refresh cycles.

Wyse PC Extender includes full support for XenDesktop with HDX and other protocols, including Microsoft RDP and PCoIP for View. It is available immediately.

Two Security Thrusts
Citrix and McAfee are combining forces toward the goal of enabling XenDesktop customers to extend their virtualization security by deploying the McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator. As part of this effort, the two vendors are developing security solutions for VDI-based virtual desktops that "centralize all virus scanning and virus signature file updates, offloading the processing intensive actions from individual VMs." Citrix and McAfee also announced that they are developing hypervisor-native detection capabilities for XenClient and XenServer that are designed for the hypervisor to play a prominent role in "protecting and detecting security policy violations for VMs."

Finally, Citrix introduced "Safe Zone" technology that lays out a path that makes it easier for companies to employ virtual computing by targeting not only internal users but external contractors and users who work at home or have employee-owned laptops. Citrix said, "This new technology automatically encrypts all data created by corporate applications delivered to users via XenApp or Microsoft App-V, storing them transparently in dedicated safe zone directories. This ensures sensitive corporate data stored on non-corporate devices is not only protected, but that it can be wiped remotely at the end of a contract, or in the event that a user's laptop is lost or stolen."

Safe zone technology is available immediately.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 05/13/2010 at 12:48 PM


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