Citrix Systems unveiled significant upgrades to its virtual desktop and virtual server at its Synergy conference in Berlin on Oct. 6.
The launch of XenDesktop 5-with support for a wider range of devices, third-party products, as well as software-as-a-service applications and a slew of new features-was accompanied by the new release of XenServer 5.6.
The new XenDesktop brings “unprecedented levels of simplicity and power to virtual desktops,” Citrix said in a statement.
XenDesktop 5 features a simpler and more powerful user interface, enhanced HDX user experience and new support for tablets, including the Apple iPad, Dell Streak, and Samsung Galaxy. It also integrated the Dazzle self-service application access technology free of charge into Citrix Receiver, which provides access to any Windows, Web and SaaS application regardless of where it is actually hosted.
XenDesktop 5 simplified the install process to make it easier to be up and running with a virtual desktop, or as Citrix called it, “10 minutes to Xen.” Management is also faster and simpler, with new role-based consoles. The Desktop Studio is for IT administrators designing, provisioning, and managing new desktops. The Desktop Director console gives help-desk managers a way to monitor and support virtual desktops across a distributed environment. The new System Center makes it easier for customers to manage applications on both physical and virtual desktops using the same set of tools.
XenDesktop 5 is visually more appealing, with a new welcome screen, login experience, and Desktop Viewer. There is also an enhanced high-definition user experience with new HDX enhancements, including faster video collaboration, improved audio, high-speed printing, and intelligent quality-of-service capabilities, the company said.
“With the advances we have made in simplicity, security and scalability, we are enabling enterprises to unleash the power of virtualization for all of their users anywhere they are located and on any device they choose,” said Gordon Payne, senior vice president and general manager of the Desktop Division at Citrix.
Laptops on the Go with Virtual Desktops
The free XenClient builds upon FlexCast to allow laptops to be on the go with virtual desktops, the company said. With this bare metal hypervisor, customers can execute virtual workloads on a local machine, disconnect anytime and reconnect with built-in synchronization, and still allow administrations to centrally manage all the desktops and laptops. XenClient supports multi-monitor and 3D graphics, as well.
XenVault, also available for free with XenDesktop 5, lets administrators deliver corporate applications as an on-demand service. All documents created within the service are automatically encrypted and transparently saved in an encrypted folder on the desktop. IT can also securely wipe corporate data from the laptop remotely. XenVault allows administrators to secure corporate data when working with outside contractors and employees using their personal laptops, Citrix said.
Citrix CEO Mark Templeton said at the conference that Lenovo will join Dell and HP in shipping XenClient as a factory-installed option.
Citrix announced new storage and networking features for XenServer 5.6 FeaturePack. Of the new features, the new Intellicache technology is most significant-it can potentially lower the cost of virtual desktop infrastructure deployments. The new technology allows back and forth rewrites of XenDesktop and server, and caches them to local storage to improve performance and reduce costs by using products cheaper than a storage-area-network device.
“With XenDesktop and IntelliCache, customers will not only have all the capabilities needed to create and manage a virtual infrastructure at a fraction of the cost of competing products, but they can also leverage it to dramatically reduce the costs of their VDI implementations,” said N. Louis Shipley, group vice-president and general manager of the XenServer Product Group at Citrix Systems in a statement.
XenServer includes virtual machine protection and recovery features that allow IT managers to schedule automatic snapshots of the virtual machine disk and memory states and archive the resulting images.
The new Web Management Console allows self-service Web administration, giving application owners direct access to the virtual machines they are responsible for. The new Web-based console can be accessed from any Web browser for simple daily management tasks.
Finally, Distributed Virtual Switching provides seamless management of resources between the internal datacenter and external cloud providers. The fully integrated virtual switch is included in the free version of XenServer at no additional charge, but advanced controls are available only in the upgrade editions.
Both the new XenServer and XenDesktop 5 will be available later this year, Citrix said. Pricing for XenDesktop is expected to be $95 per user or device for the VDI-only edition, Enterprise editions for $225, and Platinum editions for $350. Comprehensive desktop and application virtualization will be available in the Enterprise or Platinum editions of XenDesktop 5.