Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Citrix Revolutionizes The Virtual Desktop

Desktop virtualization leader Citrix Systems isn't wasting any time following this month's acquisition of RingCube, adding that company's personalization technology to a new release of Citrix Systems' software. In addition to RingCube's Personal vDisk solution, XenDesktop 5.5 features the "most significant enhancement to Citrix high-definition HDX user experience technology," promising up to three times faster delivery for both LAN and WAN users at a fraction of the cost of competing solutions.

In total, there are more than 150 new features and enhancements to the desktop virtualization platform, says Citrix Systems' John Fanelli, VP for enterprise desktops and apps, but the focus is on delivering the personal desktop, in addition to addressing remote and mobile workers. He adds that, according to Gartner, there will be 20 million virtual desktops by 2014, and the new release is a revolutionary step in making that a reality. "The ability to deliver personal desktops and the cost savings associated with it, ... we're making desktop virtualization across the WAN a reality."

RingCube called personalization the "VDI ghetto," and offered a solution that provided the personal desktop experience on top of VDI for reduced costs. Integrating vDesk with existing VDI implementations, including XenDesktop, was a primary strength of the solution, says analyst Steve Brasen, Enterprise Management Associates.

Citrix is offering this functionality at no charge in all editions of XenDesktop 5.5 as an early access capability, says Fanelli, making it easier for customers to gain hands-on experience and begin pilot deployments. Combined with the Citrix Receiver universal software client, the new release will now address more than 1 billion devices, including PCs, Macs, tablets, smartphones and thin clients, and all major device operating platforms, including Apple iOS, Google Android and Google ChromeOS. Available for download now, pricing starts at $95 per user or device for the VDI-only edition, with the Enterprise or Platinum editions priced at $225 and $350, respectively.

"Citrix is continuing to raise the bar in terms of the desktop virtualization feature set and is being very aggressive to give customers what they want," says Gartner Research VP Chris Wolf. "The Kaviza acquisition [the VDI-in-a-Box small-and-midsize-business solution acquired in May] can address many branch office scenarios, and gives Citrix a very cost-effective small office/branch office solution that is absent among their competitors. As I see it, Citrix realizes that they have a technology lead, they smell blood, and they’re going for the kill. Picking up Kaviza and RingCube are good examples. Just like with server virtualization, desktop virtualization can be very sticky. So the game right now is all about market penetration. Citrix is doing everything in its power to give prospects very compelling reasons to deploy their software and are having a high degree of success."

Wolf says personalization and richer support for user customizations are part of the natural evolution of the virtual desktop but that he had talked to numerous organizations that were concerned about making a purchasing decision regarding products in the personalization space. These organizations were concerned about merger and acquisition activity and feared aligning with the wrong startup, with the result that many were delaying purchasing decisions for personalization software until greater market consolidation occurred. "Citrix put that fear to rest by acquiring RingCube. Customers that want even broader support--for example, to include personalization across physical desktops--can continue to rely on Citrix partners such as AppSense and RES Software."

The bundling is revolutionary in that Citrix is the first vendor to offer this technology as part of its product, says Wolf. "Many Gartner clients considered basic personalization a required feature, and Citrix is the first vendor to deliver on this. This isn’t just a checkbox. The personalization layer provided by RingCube can considerably reduce virtual desktop storage costs, as well as offer significant Opex savings. The impact is significant in terms of both opex and capex, both of which have been barriers to virtual desktop adoption."

See more on this topic by subscribing to Network Computing Pro Reports IT Pro Impact: VMware/vSphere 5 (subscription required).