Citrix Releases XenApp 5 for Virtual Desktops

The Citrix Systems XenApp 5 product, formally called Presentation Server, is designed to allow IT pros to create virtual desktops. Citrix XenApp 5 can work with the Citrix XenDesktop virtualization suite or Citrix XenApp can work alone. Citrix XenApp 5 allows for the virtualization of Microsoft Windows and Office applications in an enterprise's virtual desktop infrastructure.

Citrix Systems is releasing the latest version of its XenApp product as part of the company's larger push into data center and desktop virtualization with offerings such as its Citrix Delivery Center virtualization suite.

XenApp 5 will allow applications, especially Microsoft Windows and Office applications, to start faster than with previous versions of the product. The latest XenApp version also works with Citrix XenDesktop for enterprises interested in creating a virtual desktop infrastructure.

Citrix XenApp is the new name for the company's stalwart Presentation Server product. The updated name reflects Citrix's $500 million acquisition of XenSource in 2007, and its desire to reach deeper into both data center and desktop virtualization. (The products are based on the open-source Xen hypervisor.)

While virtualization companies such as VMware, Citrix and now Microsoft, with Hyper-V, have touted the benefits of virtualization in the data center to help with a myriad of concerns from consolidation to power savings to disaster recovery, the virtual desktop infrastructure is developing as the next area where virtualization technology is about to be tested.

At a forum earlier in 2008, IDC researchers found that interest in virtual desktops and infrastructures was growing among departments as a way to better secure data and have more control of desktop images and the corporate fleet. However, concerns about the complexity and cost involved in this undertaking, including problems with operating system licensing, are forcing many enterprises to watch from the sidelines for now.

"We have seen a surge in interest and there a lot of people that are interested in application virtualization and they are evaluating what is out there," said Bill Hartwick, senior director of product marketing for Citrix.

The latest version of XenApp will work within Citrix's broad suite of Delivery Center virtualization technologies. Since April, Citrix has been talking up Delivery Center as a way to deliver desktop images and application for the data center to individual clients in an enterprise. In May, Citrix detailed another product in the suite called Branch Repeater, a software appliance that sits between the data center and branch or remote offices and helps transmit applications from the main data center facility to these locations.

The key to the suite remains Citrix XenDesktop, which allows an IT department to host a virtual machine in the data center. An enterprise can virtualize Windows desktops and deliver them on demand via the high-speed Web interconnect to office workers in any location.

Besides helping Microsoft applications start faster, the latest version of XenApp allows individual applications to be packaged and maintained separately within the data center. At that same time, the applications are linked together.

While XenApp allows the different applications to be isolated, it also allows for them to communicate with one another. An enterprise user can then call up whatever application is needed, while the IT department can patch and upgrade from a central location.

The newer version of XenApp is also integrated with Citrix Branch Repeater. In this case, the most frequently used applications are stored closer to the remote or branch office so the application can be called up faster by users in that location.

XenApp 5 is also integrated with Windows Server 2008 and 2003.

The cost of Citrix XenApp 5 is $350 per concurrent user for the Advanced Edition, $450 for the Enterprise Edition and $600 for the Platinum Edition.