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Citrix Unveils XenDesktop 5, XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 1

Using its Berlin Synergy conference as a bully pulpit, Citrix unveiled new versions of XenDesktop and XenServer to underscore its unwavering commitments to desktop virtualization and cloud computing. While XenDesktop 5 includes new features aimed at making it easier for new customers to get up and running with desktop virtualization, it also relies heavily on enhancements to existing capabilities.

New features to XenDesktop fit under the title "Faster, Simpler, More Powerful," and include the ability to finish a new installation in 10 minutes, and via its new Desktop Studio and Desktop Director consoles, the abilities to centrally design and manage virtual desktops, and to monitor, troubleshoot and support virtual desktops for thousands of enterprise users. Citrix also played the Redmond card by announcing that XenDesktop 5 supports System Center, Microsoft's management suite.

XenDesktop 5 enhances Citrix's HDX high definition technology by "dramatically" improving performance for resource-intensive tasks such as audio and video collaboration and large-file printing "even over low bandwidth connections." Citrix then goes on to describe a "lush and captivating new end-user experience" provided by new employee welcome screens, as well as a completely redesigned virtual desktop viewer.

Citrix describes the "stunning" touch-enabled support for new consumer devices such as PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones via its Citrix Receiver universal software client (based on Dazzle technology). Support for these devices includes such user experience enhancements as the ability to instantly touch-enable existing enterprise applications that were previously incompatible with new touch screen tablets such as the Apple iPad or Blackberry PlayBook.

Under the rubric of "Connecting Virtual Desktops to a New Generation of Apps", Citrix claims XenDesktop 5 is changing the game by using Citrix Receiver and "making it easy to deliver one-click, single sign-on access to an entirely new generation of applications, including externally-hosted web, cloud and SaaS apps."

The company's Flexcast delivery technology--which Citrix says allow IT to deliver any type of virtual desktop in a VDI environment to any user on any device--also gets a facelift, enabling IT to deliver virtual desktops "to go" that run directly on each user's PC or laptop. As Citrix puts it, "This approach, which leverages the new XenClient hypervisor (introduced in May), is ideal for millions of corporate laptop users, providing IT with all the central management and security benefits of hosted virtual desktops, while giving mobile workers the flexibility to work connected or disconnected."

The BYOC movement has been long-championed by Citrix president and CEO Mark Templeton, and via XenDesktop 5, it is now united with Citrix XenVault, which responds to IT's need to securely enable access to corporate apps without the inconvenience of installing applications or managing personal desktops. XenDesktop 5 deals with this situation by simply serving up corporate applications as an on-demand service, and then "automatically encrypting any documents created by those apps, and saving them transparently in an encrypted folder on the user's laptop." The result is, corporate data is always secure on devices not owned by the corporation. In addition, if an employee is terminated, a contract job is concluded, or the laptop is lost or stolen, IT can securely wipe away any corporate data.

Citrix further said that XenDesktop 5 (which will be available in Q4), has been verified to work with over 15,000 third-party products. Finally, In combination with business partners and system integrators around the world, the company said it is offering its Desktop Transformation Model, which helps customers assess their business requirements and translates them into a customized plan for desktop virtualization initiatives.

Suggested pricing for XenDesktop 5 begins at $95 per user or device for the VDI-only edition. Comprehensive desktop and application virtualization is available in the Enterprise or Platinum editions, and priced at $225 and $350, respectively.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 10/08/2010 at 12:48 PM


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