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Citrix Shifts Virtualization Spotlight To Desktops

Citrix Systems is changing its emphasis on virtualization. From now on, it's less about launching virtual machines in the data center and more about delivering virtual services to user desktops, it will tell attendees at its three-day user group meeting, Synergy 2008, which opens today in Houston.

Citrix Delivery Center will consist of a group of products, both existing and new software. Among the existing pieces are XenApp, for virtualizing on central servers a set of applications to be accessed by end users, and NetScaler, its software for delivering application services over the Internet. Among the new pieces will be: Citrix App Receiver and Citrix Desktop Receiver, both lightweight clients for running end user machines by receiving the virtualized applications from a central server.

It may sound simple but, so far, there are few examples of enterprises virtualizing their desktops on a large scale and keeping a variety of end users happy -- with costs savings involved. If Delivery Center works the way Citrix plans, it will accomplish just that.

Citrix is starting from a well-defined base of virtualizing applications. XenApp is the former Presentation Server, Citrix's high-end application virtualization server. With it and related software, Citrix can authenticate hundreds or thousands of end users and supply them application services over the local area network. Now, with a new hardware appliance thrown in, the Citrix Branch Repeater, it wants to start deploying virtual applications and virtual desktops out beyond the local area network to branch offices and remote workers.

Citrix Desktop Receiver will sit on a thin client at the user's desktop and offer instant-on capability that starts up in a fraction of the time it takes to warm up a PC desktop. It's the equivalent of "a set-top box, getting a signal and amplifying it for the receiving TV set," said Sanjay Uppal, VP of the Citrix Application Networking Group.

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