Citrix Bullish on Cloud Computing, Desktop Virtualization in 2009

Citrix sees 2009 as the year that cloud computing and desktop virtualization will take off in a big way. To help create momentum for the cloud and client virtualization, Citrix Systems will offer its Delivery Center suite, which includes Citrix XenDesktop, XenServer and a new product called App Receiver, which can sit on a PC or an Apple iPhone and deliver a virtual desktop image. VMware is also looking to expand its presence in the data center for cloud computing and for desktop virtualization.

Citrix Systems is looking toward 2009 as the year that its vision for cloud computing and desktop virtualization will come into much sharper focus, with product suites that allow enterprises to build new types of virtual infrastructures.

In the next year, Citrix plans to offer new software suites that will give enterprises the tools to build their own internal cloud computing infrastructures as well as allow businesses to tap into external clouds that are built using Citrix technology. That vision dovetails with Citrix's virtual desktop and server virtualization offerings built around its 2007 acquisition of XenSource and products such as XenDesktop, XenServer and XenApp-the new name for the older Presentation Server.

Citrix is also looking to expand virtualization to other devices and offer the ability to deliver a desktop image or application to smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone.

The cloud computing model, in which computing power, storage and applications are centralized in a data center and then delivered to users through the Internet, came into its own in 2008. While companies such as Citrix, Microsoft, Google and IBM are offering different visions of what cloud computing is, the push toward this model is expected to continue in 2009.

On Dec. 9, Sun Microsystems announced plans for cloud computing that will roll out in the next 12 months. VMware, Citrix's main rival for desktop virtualization, also offered up its cloud vision, saying it plans to use its x86 virtualization technology to create cloud computing infrastructures and deliver these resources to PCs and devices such as smartphones.

Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said the idea of the cloud and creating a virtual desktop infrastructure work hand-in-hand because both concepts allow businesses to deliver computing resources anywhere at any given time. In addition, these concepts give IT departments greater control over how those resources are used.

"What Citrix is doing, and what I think is emblematic of what other companies are doing, is defining the cloud through the lens of their own offerings," King said. "What Citrix used to be is an application services provider ... it's not a big step to say 'We're a cloud services provider' and to use virtualization to apportion the applications and operating system resources to those desktops."

Citrix's acquisition of XenSource and long history of working with Microsoft mean that it does have most of the pieces in place to offer cloud computing as well as desktop virtualization, King said.