Citrix Project Avalon Puts XenDesktop, XenApp Services in the Cloud

At its Synergy conference, Citrix introduced Project Avalon, which will convert its XenDesktop and XenApp virtual thin-client platforms into a full-scale multitenant cloud service.

SAN FRANCISCO-Citrix is launching what it calls Project Avalon to take its virtualization and cloud computing platforms to the next level by delivering a Microsoft Windows desktop and all its related applications as a cloud service.

Citrix provided details about Project Avalon along with other new product introductions and upgrades at the Citrix Synergy 2012 conference here this week. The company also touted product enhancements that are the fruits of recent acquisitions.

Project Avalon is the latest in Citrix's strategy-as also espoused by multiple technology companies of late-of delivering technology to workers wirelessly, on a wide range of devices, often the employee's personal devices, across multiple form factors and operating systems.

"Project Avalon is all about delivering Windows apps and desktops as a true cloud service," said Mark Templeton, president and CEO of Citrix, in a keynote address May 9 at Citrix Synergy. "It's about moving you forward into the cloud era."

Citrix XenApp, which delivers applications to thin-client endpoints, and XenDesktop, which delivers a worker's computer desktop through a virtual desktop infrastructure, are "kind of like cloud services," but they require a lot of time and effort to manage and orchestrate, Templeton said. With Project Avalon, Citrix is going to the next step by offering multisite, multitenant, automation and provisioning for XenApp and XenDesktop in the cloud.

Project Avalon improves upon XenApp and XenDesktop in terms of scalability, said John Fanelli, vice president of product marketing for the Enterprise Desktops and Applications Group at Citrix.

Citrix has more than 100 customers with more than 10,000 seats each to which the company has to distribute its virtual desktop application. There are also multiple service providers that have to serve up XenDesktop to thousands of customer seats. "When you start to get to that scale, you really want to move from a hypervisor-based environment to a cloud-based environment," said Fanelli said.

A beta version of Avalon will be released sometime in the second half of 2012, said Templeton.

Also at Synergy 2012, Citrix introduced Podio, a social media-like collaboration platform that is an adjunct to its GoToMeeting Web conferencing application. Podio is a Danish company Citrix acquired in April.

While there are a number of platforms for holding meetings online with participants from various locations, Cisco WebEx for instance, Podio is for the collaborative work people do between meetings, Templeton explained.

The Podio platform allows participants to share updates on the progress they've made on action items from the previous GoToMeeting session. Unique to Podio is an application market where participants can download and customize apps for lead management, client collaboration and product development.

"Unlike other social platforms where you sort of yammer about work, this allows you to build apps to get the work done," Templeton said, taking a shot at rival Yammer, another enterprise social network solution.

Finally, Citrix also introduced XenClient Enterprise Edition, which delivers a mobile virtual desktop to corporate laptops. The new version provides more remote management capabilities that Citrix acquired May 9 through its buyout of Virtual Computer, a startup company that developed client-side virtualization systems. Citrix announced the acquisition at the Synergy conference.

Demand for remote management of mobile virtual desktops is driven by the reality of an increasingly mobile workforce. IDC reported in January that the mobile workforce will rise to 1.3 billion by 2015, representing 37.2 percent of the entire workforce.