Citrix's Latest Bedazzler
It's Xen's big week. On Monday, Citrix kicked off Synergy 2009 an event "where virtualization, networking and application delivery meet." The conference is taking place in Las Vegas, and has no shortage of cloud and virtualization coverage. Virtually Speaking: Citrix kicks off Synergy 2009 with a treasure trove of announcements aimed at both the virtual desktop and virtual server. A new version of Citrix Essentials and XenServer has hit the market, but the glam of Citrix Dazzle and Receiver is front and center.
Citrix also used this opportunity to unveil two new products for its Xen family: Citrix Dazzle and Citrix Receiver as well as a new version of XenServer, 5.5.
Both products are free to anyone using Citrix Delivery Center products like XenApp and XenDesktop, Wes Wasson, chief marketing officer, said at a press event opening the conference.
While the products themselves offer a host of new capabilities, even more interesting than the products themselves is the positioning and path Citrix is taking.
For some time now the company has been focusing on the end user, taking a bottoms-up approach to the adoption patterns as well as operating under the belief that the virtual desktop is the way of the future. With Dazzle and Receiver, this path is quite clear.
Internetnews reported, "Citrix Dazzle acts as a virtual storefront for enterprises that are already using Citrix Delivery Center products and runs on Macintosh and Windows."
To do this, Dazzle delivers Windows apps through Windows terminal services, SaaS applications (e.g., SalesForce.com and Citrix GoToMeeting) in the cloud, and Web-based services through direct access to Web sites or through XenApp. It can also deliver apps to virtual machines.
Complementing Citrix Dazzle is Citrix Receiver, which facilitates the delivery of apps to the desktop. It is available only on Windows at this time, but Machintosh, Windows Mobile and Symbian support is planned for later this year. In addition, Citrix is working with Open Kernel Labs to deliver Receiver for Android and other phones.
Speaking of mobile support: Citrix also announced iPhone compatibility. The iPhone is no stranger to virtualization. In November, VMware released its Mobile Virtualization Platform, basically software embedded on a mobile phone. At the time, Citrix announced an ICA client for the iPhone was in the works.
Now it's here.
Finally, and ironically receiving the least amount of attention, was an upgrade to Citrix Essentials for both XenServer and Hyper-V, the product line unveiled in February, as well as a new version of Citrix XenServer (also 5.5).
New features in Citrix Essentials include: expanded storage integration, automated stage management and dynamic workload balancing of virtual machines across the resource pool.
Key new features in XenServer include consolidated backup to enable third-party backup vendors to work with XenServer; new tools to simplify the conversion of VMDK-based virtual machines (commonly used by VMware) into the VHD format (commonly used by Citrix XenServer and Microsoft Hyper-V); enhanced search capabilities; Active Directory integration; and expanded guest support to include SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11, Debian 5.0 and RedHat/CentOS/Oracle 5.3.
As virtualization penetrates deeper and wider throughout enterprises, the major players are setting themselves on widely divergent courses. The pie remains ample, and ideally these varied options will meet the needs of an equally divergent customer base.
Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering virtualization space since 2001, and is coauthoring a book about virtualization that is scheduled for publication in October 2009.