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Desktops' Virtual Dance

Citrix's decision to spend $500 million on XenSource prompted some raised eyebrows this week, particularly the vendor's ambitious plan to tie desktop, server, and storage virtualization together. (See Citrix Bags XenSource for $500M, Citrix Acquires XenSource, and Xen & the Art of Virtualization.)

Forrester analyst Frank Gillett, for one, was somewhat perplexed by the move. "I have not yet seen a convincing story telling me why desktops and application delivery stuff has synergy with the server infrastructure," he says.

Desktop, server, and storage virtualization are very different animals, according to the analyst. "In the data center, you want to virtualize everything as much as possible," he says, adding that this is not necessarily the case on the desktop, where end-users' hardware needs are typically more prescribed.

Citrix, unsurprisingly, challenged this view when I spoke to them yesterday, arguing that the opposite is in fact true. (See Application Virtualization Takes Hold.) "Were seeing an increased interest from our customers to put [our flagship] Presentation Server [software] on virtual machines," said Chris Fleck, the vendor's vice president of platform development. "We see customers asking for solutions that include virtualized desktops."

Presentation Server is used to manage desktop software from the likes of Microsoft, and disaster recovery-conscious users are now looking to run this on virtual machines hosted in back-end data centers, according to Fleck. This could involve, for example, sending a Windows XP desktop to a virtual machine.

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