Citrix Unveils 'iTunes-Simple' Products for Enterprise Data CentersBy Sharon Linsenbach | Print
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At its annual Synergy 2009 users conference, Citrix says it will pursue a strategy aimed at making enterprise applications and data center functionality as simple as using Apple's iTunes.
Citrix this week unveiled a plethora of new products, applications and services aimed at helping solution providers, their customers and even consumers achieve greater control over their virtualized environments.
During a Webinar and press briefing from the vendor’s annual Synergy 2009 users conference in Las Vegas, vice president and chief marketing officer Wes Wasson detailed Citrix’s new and upgraded lineup of software and services, which he says are targeted toward a do-it-yourself model much like that of broadcast media and consumer applications such as Apple’s iTunes.
"We want to turn data centers into 'delivery centers,’ and are modeling this vision on broadcast media," Wasson told Webinar attendees.
"Broadcast media and consumer-focused companies like Apple offer a massively consistent service free of IT encumbrances—for the most part, they don’t care about what kind of TV you have, what content you want to watch or listen to, it’s 100 percent end-user driven," Wasson says. That’s the experience Citrix hopes to make ubiquitous across the enterprise, he says, meaning that users can expect software, services and applications to be always-on with consistent quality of service and speed.
At the top of Wasson’s list of new products is Dazzle, an online application store for enterprise developers, designed along the iTunes model; Citrix Receiver, a new mobile device application that enables solution providers and end users to administer enterprise applications from anywhere; and a major upgrade to Citrix's Essentials virtualization management package for XenServer hypervisor and Microsoft's Hyper-V.
Dazzle, which will be available in the second half of this year, is a freely downloadable interface tool that enables users to find and utilize enterprise applications. Dazzle installs in front of existing delivery infrastructures and works with current Citrix enterprise products such as XenApp and XenDesktop to bring an "intuitive user experience that requires no training, similar to how Apple iTunes works," Wasson said.
The continued analogy to Apple’s iTunes model, Wasson says, is indicative of a growing "consumerization" among enterprise end users, administrators and the solution providers that serve those customers.
"Think about the experiences you have every day on the Web, and all the applications, services and content that we use," Wasson says. "Nobody had to train you how to use Google, or iTunes or Amazon.com, but it’s totally different when you walk into an office environment," he says.
He cites services from Web heavyweights Amazon, Google, YouTube and Salesforce.com as examples of companies that offer consumers enterprise-class services for a pittance.
"How can you convince enterprise IT folks, CIOs, anyone, really, that if Google, for instance, can have 20,000 servers managed by a single administrator, that I can only manage 80 or 90 with one administrator?" he says. "We need to look to these companies for inspiration and move toward this kind of model," he says.
Both Dazzle and Citrix Receiver aim to be groundbreaking applications that can achieve for the enterprise what Apple, Google and others Wasson mentioned are for consumer end users.
Using Dazzle, users can browse and search for whatever application they need based on name, description or type. The applications can be selected, stored and organized into customized lists. For compliance and legal purposes, Dazzle can be programmed to send a message to an IT manager to authorize the use of licensed applications.
Citrix Receiver, a new virtual software client, enables enterprise IT to deliver desktops and applications as an on-demand service to any device in any location, Wasson said. Receiver runs in the background of a virtual desktop and improves the ability of Citrix to update applications by pushing out the changes automatically, he said.
"When there is an update to a XenApps, for instance, we can push it directly to all users who have Citrix Receiver," he said. "They don't even have to think about it."
Receiver even has a version that runs on the Apple iPhone, Wasson said, which enables standard enterprise applications such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Word to work on it, Wasson said. Using Receiver, enterprise staff members who need to access their work desktops from any location can go to a URL given to them by IT. The IT manager, however, maintains control over the employee's workspace for security purposes.
Citrix also released an upgrade to its Citrix Essentials virtualization management package for its own XenServer hypervisor and for Microsoft's Hyper-V. The new 5.5 version of Citrix Essentials features expanded data storage integration, automated storage management, dynamic workload balancing and Active Directory integration. It also offers an enhanced search feature, which allows for search by VM name, resource pool, location, server, storage repository, snapshot time and network name—all from a single location.
Wasson says Dazzle and Receiver will be free for any existing Citrix customers, and a free technical preview of Dazzle will be available in July 2009.