Citrix Bangs Virtual App Drum

Vendor streamlines virtual apps but is unlikely to build or buy its way into the storage world

August 26, 2008

3 Min Read
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Citrix has added more flesh to the bones of its desktop virtualization strategy at a time when vendors are increasingly looking to tie server, storage, and desktop virtualization together.

Earlier this year the vendor unveiled XenApp, its rebranded Presentation Server software, touting the ability to use a single Windows image as the basis for multiple unique virtual desktops, which it claims can reduce the storage needed for the images by more than 90 percent.

Today the vendor launched XenApp Version 5, claiming to streamline the way Windows applications are handled across virtual servers and Citrixs XenDesktop software.

“This gives isolated or virtualized applications the ability to communicate with each other -- it’s almost like the ability to bore through a firewall,” says Bill Hartwick, Citrix’s senior director of product marketing. A SAP application, for example, could communicate with an Adobe PDF running in separate virtual machines, according to the exec.

Dubbed ‘inter-isolation communication’ by the clearly jargon-obsessed vendor, Citrix is touting the ability to link applications in different VMs as a way to ease the management challenges associated with virtualization.“Virtualization in of itself, is good, but it’s not the complete set of management tools,” says Hartwick, explaining that XenApp5 works with Citrix’s XenDesktop and XenServer offerings to manage applications across virtual machines.

Other enhancements to XenApp 5 include a more straightforward user interface which can start up applications 10 times faster than XenApp 4.5, and a souped-up load balancing feature.

”Now, with preferential load balancing, you can assign priorities to individuals and specific applications,” says Hartwick. ”You don’t want [for example] to put two prioritized people on the same virtual machine.”

Despite these benefits, Citrix has made little noise about its long-term storage strategy, despite recent moves by rival vendors such as Symantec and VMware.

Symantec, for example, recently announced the acquisition of desktop virtualization specialist nSuites, and is already heavily involved in storage management.At least one analyst thinks that Symantec could therefore be a big threat to Citrix.

”They have these storage qualifications, and they are starting to get into desktop virtualization,” says Andy Mann, research director at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). “They have also had some play in application virtualization with the Altiris SVS.”

The analyst adds that VMware is also ramping up its efforts to tie the different strands of virtualization together.

”They are pretty strong on the application virtualization side, but not, in my mind, as strong as Citrix,” he says, adding that XenApp/Presentation Server is a much more mature offering than VMware’s Thinstall technology. “But VMware does have ‘storage vMotion,’ so there are elements of storage virtualization that they are definitely getting.”

Citrix, in contrast, looks unlikely to either build or buy its way into storage virtualization, preferring instead to rely on partnerships such as its deal with NetApp for provisioning and cloning virtual data.”We have a joint solution that we go to market with,” says Sumit Dhawan, Citrix’s vice president of product marketing, adding that storage is one of the largest hidden costs for desktop virtualization.

Pricing for a standalone version of XenApp 5 aimed at physical desktops starts at $350 per concurrent user. XenApp 5 will be available on September 10.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Enterprise Management Associates

  • NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • XenSource Inc.

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