Citrix Boosts Virtual Desktop Solutions With Framehawk Buy

The deal to enhance Citrix's HDX technology comes after DaaS moves by such rivals as Amazon and Cisco.

Citrix Systems, facing increasing challenges in the desktop-as-service space, is buying Framehawk to improve the delivery of virtual desktops and applications to mobile devices over wireless networks.

Citrix officials said Jan. 8 that the company will combine Framehawk's technology, which is aimed at enhancing the delivery of desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) technology to such mobile devices as smartphones and tablets, with Citrix's own HDX IT delivery technology in its XenApp and XenDesktop offerings.

The ability to deliver a consistent user experience over wireless networks is becoming increasingly important, given the growing trends of greater employee mobility and bring your own device (BYOD). Framehawk's platform is designed to rapidly and securely make existing business applications available to mobile workers on their tablets via WiFi and cellular networks, even if service is slowed or poor due to traffic congestion, high packet loss or high latency, according to Citrix officials.

In addition, the business applications can be accessed by mobile workers without IT staffs having to rewrite the software for mobile environments.

Integrating the Framehawk platform with Citrix's HDX technology will make Citrix's solutions better able than competing offerings to overcome network issues that challenge businesses in BYOD environments, officials said.

"With enterprises increasingly enabling mobility for their employees, the ability to deliver apps and desktops with the best user experience to any of the billions of devices on the market is of paramount importance," Sudhakar Ramakrishna, senior vice president and general manager of Citrix's Enterprise and Service Provider Division, said in a statement.

Framehawk was launched in 2008 by engineers who had experience with NASA in creating solutions for communicating with spacecraft. The company came out of stealth mode in 2012. No financial details of the deal were disclosed.

"Knowledge workers today are no longer chained to their desks. But this increased freedom means they're no longer guaranteed a highly reliable, high-quality wired network connection," Derek Thorslund, director of product management of HDX for Citrix, said in a post on the company blog. "Even a corporate WiFi network is prone to electromagnetic interference, especially in office towers in metropolitan areas. … The Framehawk technology will extend our HDX portfolio to handle even higher levels of congestion, packet loss and latency."

The deal comes as competition in the DaaS space intensifies. In November, cloud giant Amazon Web Services announced its own cloud-based desktop virtualization solutions. A month later, Cisco Systems unveiled a new DaaS offering that will be based on the networking vendor's Unified Computing System (UCS) converged data center solution.

The Framehawk deal is good for Citrix, DaaS providers and the growing number of organizations showing interest in desktop virtualization technologies, according to Forrester analyst David Johnson. For Citrix, the Framehawk platform will add to what the company already offers, and Citrix at the same time was able to remove a possible competitor from the field, Johnson wrote on the Forrester blog site.

For service providers, the deal will mean a better DaaS user experience that they can sell for customers. For organizations, "if you're struggling with Citrix XenApp performance over mobile networks, the Framehawk technology should help once Citrix announces more specific plans for incorporating it into their offerings," he wrote.

Interest in desktop virtualization, thin clients and streaming technologies is gaining momentum, according to a Forrester survey. In the third quarter of 2011, 44 percent of respondents said implementing or expanding the use of such technologies was a key priority. In the third quarter of 2013, that number grew to 52 percent. Forrester analysts believe 2014 will be a good year for desktop virtualization.

"With the end-of-life for Windows XP coming up in April, Forrester is seeing a flurry of activity from IT clients whose Windows 7 migration plans are at risk, and virtualization technologies offer hope," Johnson wrote. "This in addition to the growing trends toward mobility and BYOD will amplify the demand for technologies like XenDesktop and Framehawk that allow companies to defer upgrading or replacing older-generation Windows productivity and client/server apps while keeping the data itself safely inside the firewall."