Citrix overhauls virtual desktop products for ‘personal cloud’

Citrix’s annual Synergy conference is opening with a bang this week, with Citrix previewing overhauls to nearly every component of its virtual desktop product lines, reaching from the data center to the iPad.

Citrix’s goal is to make all data and applications available to users on any device, without threatening IT security. The PC era, which replaced the mainframe era, is now being replaced by the cloud era, and each user will have a “personal cloud,” said Wes Wasson, Citrix senior vice president of marketing.


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“A personal cloud is something that is much bigger than just a Windows desktop,” Wasson said. “It’s the way people want to work, from any location, at any time, on any device, with everything they need to be successful.”

FIRST LOOK: Citrix’s big changes

The devices – PCs, thin clients, smartphones, tablets, etc. – are already there. What’s needed is better software to deliver applications and data, and more sophisticated data centers and networking tools to connect people to their personal clouds, he said.

Among the numerous announcements at Synergy, Citrix is unveiling “Project Olympus,” which combines its own XenServer virtualization product with OpenStack, a new open source cloud computing project launched by Rackspace and NASA. Olympus will help cloud providers or enterprises build scaled-out, self-service infrastructures with commodity equipment, Citrix said. An early access program for Olympus is opening now, with general availability planned for the second half of this year.

Citrix’s other announcements fall into a few categories: improving the end-user and IT manager experience, boosting efficiency in the data center, and providing secure connections from the data center and client devices to cloud services.

Highlights on the end-user side include:

• HD Faces for GoToMeeting, a high-definition video client for Citrix’s Web conferencing software, is entering a public beta.

• GoToManage for the iPad, which lets IT pros access physical and virtual desktops remotely to diagnose and fix problems, will launch for free in the Apple App Store this week.

• Citrix Receiver, the software that delivers virtual desktops and applications to user devices, supports 149 smartphones and 37 tablets. At Synergy, Citrix will demonstrate Receiver working on Google’s Chrome OS laptops, the HP webOS tablet, and Motorola’s Atrix 4G smartphone/laptop combo. Multitouch support on tablets is being upgraded, Wasson said.

• The second version of XenClient, a bare-metal hypervisor for installing virtual desktops on PCs, will be shown in a technology preview that expands the software to more types of laptops. Bare-metal desktop hypervisors are not widely used, but may offer greater security by isolating virtual machines, and a richer experience than streamed desktops by using the PC’s native horsepower. Citrix is upgrading XenClient to improve the user interface, synchronization, backup and remote data wipes.

• Citrix will also preview XenClient XT, a higher-end version with “extreme security, isolation and performance,” designed for government and other organizations in need of multi-layer security, Wasson said.

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