Citrix Streamlines Virtual Desktops

Unveils XenDesktop, claims virtual storage savings versus VMware

April 15, 2008

3 Min Read
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Citrix unveiled its desktop virtualization software today, firing a shot across the bows of rival VMware by slashing the amount of storage needed for desktop images.

XenDesktop, based on technology from Citrix's $500 million acquisition of XenSource last year, uses a single Windows image as the basis for multiple unique virtual desktops.

The image is adapted to users' specific configurations and applications when they log on, removing the need to store multiple different desktop images, according to Sumit Dhawan, Citrixs senior director of product marketing.

”The biggest problem in terms of cost in desktop virtualization is storage,” he adds. ”It can get extremely expensive.”

At least one analyst thinks that Citrix is onto something."This has huge storage implications," says Natalie Lambert, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. "When you're talking about 1,000 or 10,000 users times 30 Gigabytes per image, the storage costs can rise significantly. To the best of my knowledge, this is something that Citrix has got, but VMware hasn't."

Lambert believes there are also security benefits to XenDesktop. "Where you have 10,000 virtual desktops and you need to patch all of them, with one 'gold' image, you're only patching once."

XenDesktop, which will be available on May 20, is also being co-marketed by Microsoft -- a clear attempt to increase the pressure on VMware. Indeed, despite Citrix's marketing bravado, it is apparent that VMware remains the 800-pound gorilla in the virtualization market. In a nod to VMware’s dominance, Citrix told Byte and Switch that XenDesktop will work with VMware’s ESX hypervisor, as well as with Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology.

Pricing for the enterprise edition of XenDesktop starts at $175 for a perpetual license, or $95 for an annual license. A platinum edition of the software, which offers monitoring and management of remote desktops, is priced at $275 for a perpetual license and $140 for an annual license.

Although VMware's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) offering lets users create desktop images off a single template, each image takes up its own portion of disk space, unlike XenDesktop, where just one image template is used and stored.VMware is nonetheless moving in the same direction as Citrix and has developed a technology called "Scalable Virtual Image," which VMware previewed at its VMworld Europe event earlier this year.

”It lets you create multiple virtual desktop images using our cloning technology off a single master image,” explains Jerry Chen, VMware’s senior director of enterprise desktop marketing. “Scalable Virtual Images will reduce the size of the images... We haven’t disclosed anything about availability, it was just a technology preview." The exec adds that the Scalable Virtual Images offering will work with the vendor’s Storage VMotion migration technology and its VMFS clustered file system.

Citrix/XenSource and VMware are not the only vendors cranking up their desktop virtualization stories at the moment. Startup Pano Logic, for example, announced a software overhaul today. Its Pano device for desktop virtualization now connects to WANs as well as LANs.

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  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • Pano Logic Inc.

  • VMware Inc.0

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