Citrix and Microsoft, Wyse Integrations

By Steve Wexler

Citrix is taking this advice to heart: it's better to show than it is to tell. The Citrix Virtual Computing Demo Center was one of several announcements by Citrix and its vendor partners at the event the week of May 10, 2010. The demo center lets channel partners prepare for a demo and provision a virtualized environment in minutes as they take the message of the benefits of desktop virtualizaiton to customers.

Tom Flink, vice president, Worldwide Channel and Sales Strategy, calls it DDMD: demos, demos and more demos. "Demos are your strategic weapon."

(VMware is following a similar tack with its VMware Express demo truck that is touring the country this year.)

Mick Hollison, vice president of Desktop Marketing at Citrix, says partners have been demanding a simpler demo capability.

The Citrix Demo Center is an easy-to-use, high-performance, cloud-based virtualization environment used to demonstrate Citrix desktop virtualization and virtual computing solutions. Up to 250 Citrix partners who are certified to sell XenDesktop can receive 90 days of free access to The Demo Center (over $2,000 in value) each quarter in a promotion that runs through June of 2011.

Demos will be of key importance as Citrix strives to win a big piece of the desktop virtualization market. Citrix President and CEO Mark Templeton says Citrix expects explosive growth as the desktop virtualization market mushrooms from less than 1 percent of desktops today to more than 40 percent, worth an estimated $65.7 billion, according to Gartner.  

"We’re at the dawn of our time of getting to $25 billion to $50 billion," he says.

The company will need a lot of help from its 8,200 partners that account for 85 percent of its current $1.5 billion-plus annual run rate, as well as its vendor partners, including new best friend Microsoft

Many of those vendor partners of Citrix also made announcements at the conference. Meanwhile Citrix's own announcements included the following:

  • the first public release of Citrix XenClient, a new client-side virtualization solution, developed in collaboration with Intel that allows centrally managed virtual desktops to run directly on corporate laptops and PCs, even when they are disconnected from the network;
  • the Citrix Cloud Solution portfolio;
  • a new 'Safe Zone’ technology that makes it easier to securely embrace virtual computing;
  • a preview of its HDX 'Nitro’ high-definition technologies;
  • XenServer 5.6; and
  • the NetScaler VPX virtual appliance and NetScaler Pay-as-You-Grow 'Burst Packs’.

XenClient highlights include:

  • XenClient Bare Metal Hypervisor enables each virtual machine to run side-by-side directly on the hardware, rather than hosted within the installed operating system;
  • Citrix Receiver for XenClient is a lightweight client that lets users create and manage their own local virtual desktops, or access centrally managed corporate virtual desktops; and,
  • Synchronizer for XenClient enables user data to be backed up automatically through a secure connection over the internet.

XenClient Express, which includes the XenClient bare metal hypervisor, Citrix Receiver for XenClient and Synchronizer for XenClient, is free for public download. XenClient is expected to become generally available with the next release of Citrix XenDesktop later this year.

Consisting of seven turnkey solutions, the cloud portfolio is based on an open technology stack with deep interoperability between layers, enabling enterprises to leverage existing investments, including third-party virtualization technologies and tools.  The solutions include: on-boarding for seamless migration of existing applications and workloads; development and test; disaster recovery; compliance; and on-demand applications, desktops and demos.

Available today as a Tech Preview, the 'Safe Zone’ technology automatically encrypts all data created by corporate applications delivered to users via Citrix XenApp or Microsoft App-V, storing them transparently in dedicated safe zone directories.

Highlights include:

  • 256 bit AES encryption of data;
  • a dedicated folder with seamless user access to store, share and transfer data;
  • granular application and data access control, lock and delete triggers for corporate data, and key recovery to unlock encrypted data; and
  • centrally managed and controlled from Citrix Merchandising Server, the back-end server component of Citrix Receiver, with easy install and "silent" updates.

The HDX enhancements planned for upcoming releases of XenDesktop and XenApp should result in faster performance across-the-board, from instant start-up of apps, to sense-and-respond technology that optimizes each user’s connection based on the capabilities of their device and network connection.

They include:

  • Project Mach 3, new advances in the Citrix Receiver client targeted to deliver up to 3X faster virtual desktop performance;
  • Project Zoom - Instant App Launch;
  • Project Laser for faster printing at just 10 percent of the bandwidth currently required;
  • Project Mercury to deliver a high-definition virtual computing experience at up to 300 ms of latency; and
  • Project Dynamo – Dynamic Sense-and-Respond Rendering.

Available on May 28, XenServer 5.6 delivers enhanced virtualization management capabilities for both the free XenServer, as well as the more advanced Enterprise and Platinum editions. Citrix also introduced a low-priced XenServer Advanced Edition for customers running the free version to add more advanced high availability and management capabilities.

The NetScaler VPX virtual appliance adds support for Microsoft datacenter and infrastructure solutions, including Hyper-V, System Center and enterprise applications like SharePoint 2010 and Exchange Server 2010. Datacenter administrators will be able to apply the same NetScaler acceleration, load balancing and security features as a native Hyper-V workload from directly within System Center - with no networking knowledge or configuration required. Support for Microsoft System Center is available now for all NetScaler MPX hardware appliances and NetScaler VPX. NetScaler AppExpert Templates with support for Microsoft applications are available now, with support for 2010 editions and NetScaler VPX support for Hyper-V coming later in the year.

Due out later this quarter, the new Burst Pack licenses extend the company’s Pay-as-You-Grow model. Datacenter managers can expand the capacity of an existing NetScaler system for a 90-day window to allow for seasonal peaks or unexpected traffic surges, giving them a far more sustainable solution for handling spiky workloads without having to over-provision the network and under-utilize resources.

Citrix and Wyse announced the Wyse Xenith (http://www.wyse.com/citrix), called the industry’s first zero client with Citrix HDX technology. It requires no local configuration or management, has virtually no attack surface for malware, auto-discovers XenDesktop right out of the box, and launches a full Windows desktop in seconds. The Wyse Xenith zero client will be available next month.

Citrix also announced a strategic partnership and collaboration agreement with McAfee, Inc. that is intended to make virtual desktop security simpler and more scalable for large enterprise deployments. The collaboration will enable XenDesktop customers to extend management of desktop security to virtual environments using the McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator platform, addressing the need to provide granular endpoint security policies for each virtual desktop while also addressing scalability, performance and complexity challenges that arise from virtualization.

As part of the agreement, Citrix plans to collaborate with McAfee to develop security solutions for VDI-based virtual desktops that centralize all virus scanning and virus signature file updates, off-loading the processing intensive actions from the individual VMs. This is to enhance the security and scalability of virtual desktop deployments by reducing CPU, memory and storage requirements, and to simplify desktop security and lifecycle management. The results of the collaboration are planned for release late in the second half of 2010 and will be designed to secure XenDesktop deployments on Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware ESX.

Legacy hard disk storage systems will not be able to handle the desktop virtualization explosion, says Brian Feller, vice president of Sales and Operations at WhipTail. The company was formed several years ago to address the emerging need to scale out storage much more quickly and at a lower cost, he tells Channel Insider. "We feel we are really tipping point technology."

The Racerunner VDI Accelerator is a solid-state SAN product specifically targeted toward the VDI market that addresses a number of VDI issues, including cost and speed. We get tremendous IO, over 100,000 read-writes, and a 7-year lifespan for SSDs, two of the biggest stumbling blocks, says James Candelaria, CTO.
"The absolutely limiting factor has been disk," he explains. Major organizations are working on these technologies but when they run them on their SANs, "they melt down… and the wheels fall off the cart."

According to WhipTail, a virtual desktop requires from 20 to 40 IOPS per image to run at an acceptable level. Fibre Channel HDD arrays from companies such as EMC and NetApp deliver approximately 200 IOPS per drive, which means a 5,000-user environment requires roughly 250,000 IOPS to perform at minimal user expectations and standards. At 200 IOPS per HDD, 625 drives are needed to meet this performance requirement, which corresponds to a performance cost ratio of $8 per I/O operation per second compared to Racerunner’s 37 cents per IOPS.

Devon IT, Inc. announced two Citrix HDX Ready thin client solutions, the Intel Atom based TC5D and the SafeBook E5400X based on the Dell platform. As part of its Flexible Computing strategy, Dell (www.dell.com) announced support for the new Citrix XenClient technology, and is working with Citrix to validate its Latitude laptop and OptiPlex desktop client systems for the new XenClient technology.

HP also hopped aboard the Citrix bandwagon with expansions to its client virtualization lineup. Its announcements included: the HP 4320t Mobile Thin Client; and, the HP Compaq Elite 8000 Business Desktop and HP EliteBook 8440p Notebook PC, the first Citrix Ready platforms expected to support the XenClient hypervisor technology.

This article was originally published on 2010-05-14