Citrix Systems at its iForum conference on Oct. 22 will demonstrate to customers just how broad its definition of application delivery really is when it launches new virtualization technology along with new communications, security and power management features embedded in its flagship Presentation Server line.
With the close of its XenSource acquisition, Citrix will launch a rebranded version of the XenSource Enterprise server virtualization offering, dubbed Citrix XenServer, along with the new Citrix XenDesktop product line for desktop virtualization.
"Virtualization is an end-to-end proposition, not just for servers. Its a property of every part of the application delivery infrastructure," said Wes Wasson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Citrix, in Santa Clara, Calif.
Read more here about Citrixs acquisition of XenSource.
Although application delivery is not an uncommon term, Citrix applies it much more widely than competitors in the WAN optimization or application acceleration space, said Rob Whiteley, an industry analyst with Forrester Research.
"Citrix, F5 [Networks], Akamai [and others] all talk about application delivery as a concept for how they play in the infrastructure space. To me Citrix has a much wider and ultimately more compelling story to tell," Whiteley said.
"Its not just a piece of network infrastructure, not just a managed service. It starts at the back end on server infrastructure, has to do with all the middleware that goes out across the wire and involves end-user components. Citrix now has the capability to tie that all together," he said.
Citrix XenServer and Citrix XenDesktop fill in Citrixs virtualization story, complementing the application virtualization provided by Presentation Server.
The forthcoming Citrix XenDesktop combines Citrix Desktop Server, which uses the Citrix ICA (Independent Computing Architecture) protocol, with a virtual infrastructure for hosting virtual desktops in the data center based on Citrix XenServer. And it adds dynamic provisioning to stream desktop images on demand from network storage based on the Citrix Provisioning Server acquired with Ardence early in 2007.
Unlike existing desktop virtualization technologies, which primarily perform application streaming, the Citrix XenDesktop addresses all of the complexity, security and cost challenges associated with managing desktops remotely.
With virtual desktops today, "You take the Windows OS, build it out and pre-install applications in the data center," and then stream them on demand to users PCs, Wasson said. "But what have you really solved? All those problems of managing application conflicts still exist—just now in the data center.
"By delivering a pristine OS like Vista and using a separate infrastructure for delivering the applications, they never cross or get hard coded into that desktop environment. If you stream those applications into a virtual isolation environment, then you have the perfect world," he added.
Citrix, a longtime Microsoft partner, promised to ensure that the Citrix XenServer and Citrix XenDesktop offerings will interoperate with Microsofts forthcoming Windows hypervisor, code-named Viridian. Citrix XenDesktop is due in the first half of 2008.
Beyond its virtualization news, Citrix will also add more application-level value to its existing Presentation Server and to its NetScaler Web application accelerator with new features designed to streamline communications, improve the auditability of access to critical applications and help reduce power consumption in the data center.
The new Citrix EasyCall feature, a standard feature in the Platinum Editions of Citrix NetScaler and Citrix Presentation Server for Windows, allows users to instantly make any phone number in any application a click-to-dial number. It does not require a change to applications and works on any type of phone.
"If customers are using NetScaler or Presentation Server to deliver applications, it will automatically recognize the phone number when they mouse over it. It pops up a widget and auto-dials the destination number," Wasson said. "Theres no heavy lifting involved."
EasyCall, available now, is based on the Citrix Application Gateway appliance, which integrates applications into existing phone systems. "You drop an appliance in front of your PBX, and it points to the Citrix application delivery infrastructure and uses built-in optical character recognition so that you can mouse over phone numbers in any font or color, and itll recognize it. You can make these calls using the corporate phone system without dialing long distance," Wasson explained.
Citrix also added a new SmartAuditor feature to Presentation Server that allows customers to monitor, record and play back specific application sessions, not unlike a digital video recorder.
Intended to help with regulatory compliance, the SmartAuditor feature allows IT operators to configure policies to record specific application sessions based on the users role, the application being accessed or the sensitivity of the application transaction. SmartAuditor, available now in the Platinum version of Presentation Server, captures screen activity from the users PC and stores it in a video file for later analysis.
And with Citrixs new Power Smart interface on Presentation Server, customers can create policies to automatically dial server power down when application traffic levels bottom out.
The interface, due in December, works with existing systems or server management software to dial up or dial down server power usage. Citrix will demonstrate the feature with HP Reliant servers through Hewlett-Packards power management tools at the iForum.
"Thats definitely up our alley," said Josh Nelson, vice president of information and network technologies at Cox Communications, in Phoenix. "The amount of power these things suck is amazing. As things get smaller they pull four times as much electricity. If you can really spin up and down that usage, itll go far in helping green initiatives," he added.
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