In the realm of popular beat combos, it is one thing for a band to explode from nowhere with a classic début album. Following it up is a far greater challenge. In musical terms – this is known as the “difficult second album syndrome”.
Citrix have released XenClient v2.0, their second generation bare-metal client hypervisor. XenClient allows centrally managed virtual desktops to run directly on corporate laptops, even when they are disconnected from the network. This version is intended to add ease-of-use and scalability features, and introduce a wider hardware compatibility list. In addition Citrix also launched the new XenClient XT, a standalone product designed to give advanced levels of security, isolation and performance for organisations with very specific and unique client computing requirements.
If Citrix were a popular beat combo (in the client side hypervisor charts) an issue would be that their first album struggled to set that chart alight. If it’s hard to release a second album when your first was monumentally brilliant, it is an exciting challenge when only your mother and aunt bought the first one. The first XenClient release was acknowledged, by Citrix, as being “unfit for enterprise deployment”. A severely limited Hardware Compatibility List (HCL), poor management and lack of user layering combined with no integration with XenDesktop and formalised vendor tie-ins failed to drive it up the charts.
So what is new in XenClient v2? How does it fit into a desktop delivery service? Is XenClient simply off-line XenDesktop? But more importantly – is XenClient now at least, enterprise ready?
Just in time for the major desktop virtualisation event known as VMworld, Citrix have announced the release of XenDesktop 5.5 as part of their desktop virtualisation trifecta. This latest release is truly an advanced and feature rich VDI solution, but it is not the only VDI offering Citrix has.
In what is sure to be seen as a carefully timed spoiler, Citrix today released XenDesktop 5.5, XenApp 6.5, and XenClient 2 along with new versions of the Citrix Receiver client less than a week before VMworld opens its doors in Las Vegas.
Like a new college student, fresh from the flush of new found freedom to expand their horizons, Citrix appear to have had a case of the munchies. First Citrix’s portfolio was extended with the acquitisition of Kaviza. More recently, the purchase of RingCube. The desktop virtualisation techhnologies acquired will help strengthen Citrix’s virtualised desktop offering. VDI-in-a-box offering simplicity of deployment, providing options for the SMB and MSP spaces; and vDesk providing a layering functionality giving greater VDI scalability with an improved personalisation offering.
While there has been little innovation in the XenApp line since v6.0 to date, the proposed next release (XA 6.5, “Iron Cove”) is slated to offer improved administration and service management – but perhaps importantly include a more “Windows 7” feel for Presentation Virtualisation (RDS/TS) sessions.
VMware’s next version of View will, should, possibly, hopefully include the Windows profile optimisation solution that VMware bought from RTO Software. The intention was to ensure VMware would, at last, have an in-house solution to make accessing non-persistent desktops less cumbersome, getting View on par with other VDI vendors who have offered some form of integrated profile management solution for some time. But since VMware’s purchase – Citrix has acquired RingCube.
Delivering a virtual desktop OS to users is a mere bagatelle. Providing a locked-down, standardized workspace to task-based users can be straight forward, but not every company just has users focused on a single set of tasks. If a desktop virtualisation project is to be successful, delivering services to autonomous users is key: those users are more likely to be the organisation’s greater revenue generators, they are more likely to be more demanding in terms of resources, they are more likely to want to access their applications and data from a range devices. They are also more likely to kick up a fuss when a solution doesn’t work. That said, regardless of the type of user it is more likely they don’t care what OS is, rather can they use the applications they need and can they get access to their data.
As we’ve mentioned before if Presentation Virtualization/Terminal services are excluded, VDI hailed as the next generation of desktop solutions from the likes of Citrix, Quest and VMware, still hold less then 3% of the desktop market. Many CIOs have been holding back from taking the plunge from moving to a virtualised desktop model. A profile management service in View would have brought parity with other VDI solutions – but would it bring a spring in sales? Will VMware’s investment in RTO justify the money, or does the solution that they have now deliver too little, too late? Is a profile optimisation solution alone good enough?
This also leads to the question – does VDI need User Virtualization, or does User Virtualization need VDI?
Virtual Computer are to optimize their NxTop client virtualization and management solution to operate with select models of Lenovo laptops and desktops PC platforms. For their part, Lenovo will allow customers to have Virtual Computer’s NxTop client loaded onto their custom images, direct from the factory. This announcement was an interesting for organisations considering changing their PC management model to use a client hypervisor. It not only promotes confidence in client hypervisors supporting a wider range of devices, it also demonstrates that device vendors themselves are willing to embrace client hypervisors as a deployment technology.