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Citrix XenApp 5 Feature Pack Add Critical Features For Virtual Apps

Citrix XenApp 5 Feature Pack 2 enhances their streaming application product line with new support for streaming applications from desktop images, user load and power management, and additional support for optimizing Flash based applications and video. Feature Pack 2 is free for organizations with an current maintenance contract as of 9/18 and new sales. For companies that have let maintenance lapse, they will need to renew maintenance. Organizations already using XenApp, these are nice enhancements to the product line and may tip organizations comparing XenApp to competing products over to Citrix.

One of the challenges for IT shopsing using Xen App is supporting legacy applications that don't run well on Windows Server operating systems or require special hardware and computing resources. While such applications should be few and far between in 2009, they still exist. Citrix VM Hosted Apps allows Xen APP to stream applications that are on a Windows desktop computer—virtual or physical— to an end user. Currently VM host app can only be streamed to one user, but Citrix is looking at adding multi-user support in the future.

Citrix is also enhancing load balancing to more effectively manage Xen App scaling. More intelligent load management consolidates users onto fewer servers allowing you to retire servers when not in use but still are able to scale up during peak periods. For example, you can create policies that define when to spin up or down XenApp servers based on your knowledge of load periods. For example, you can probably reduce your XenApp servers during non-working hours and bring them back on-line prior to the workday. The power savings, and associated cooling savings, will add up over time.

Finally, Feature Pack 2 enhances their High Definition experience (HDX) by automatically detecting whether the users workstation can process Flash applications and videos locally. Having the users workstation render and run Flash relieved processing demand on the server side. The user doesn't make the choice, XenApp HDX discovers the processing capabilities. Citrix is investigating local processing of other media types as well. In addition, HDX plug and play now support USB 1, 2, and U3 drives for both VM hosted and server hosted applications.

Finally, HDX adds acceleration for MAPI used by Microsoft's Exchange for hosted email clients such as Outlook. Citrix claims 50X response time for emails and attachments and a 6X reduction in WAN bandwidth. MAPI acceleration does require Citrix Branch Repeater product in the branch and the data center hosting Exchange. Like other WAN optimization products, the MAPI acceleration optimizes TCP, MAPI, and performs data reduction which nets improved performance.