Citrix releases new edition of XenDesktop V4

Just in time for VMware's VMworld, Citrix announced the release of a new version of XenDesktop that includes two new components, XenClient and XenVault. Their stated goal is to bring laptops into the organization's management environment.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor on

Just in time for VMware's VMworld, Citrix announced the release of a new version of XenDesktop that includes two new components, XenClient and XenVault. Their stated goal is to bring laptops into the organization's management environment. This would include both organization and staff owned devices.

Here's how Citrix describes those new components

With the addition of the new XenClient and XenVault features, XenDesktop extends its lead as the most comprehensive and flexible desktop virtualization solution on the market.

Key Facts and Highlights (XenClient):
  • Enables Virtual Desktops “To Go” – XenClient is a client-side hypervisor that enables virtual desktops to run directly on client devices. It provides all the security and central management of VDI, while allowing users to seamlessly work online or disconnected without any cumbersome check-in or check-out requirements, just as they would with a traditional locally installed desktop. While XenClient can be run on any supported PC hardware, it is ideally suited to corporate-owned laptops.
  • Control for IT, Flexibility for Users – XenClient makes it easy for IT to deliver a secure, centrally managed corporate desktop environment to laptop users without compromising user experience. They can even set up a second personal virtual desktop on the same laptop, giving users full freedom, without compromising corporate security.
  • Centralized Backup and Recovery – When disconnected from the network, XenClient operates just like a traditional installed desktop. As soon as users connect to the network, it automatically synchronizes any changes with the datacenter, ensuring full centralized backup of all corporate laptops. If a laptop is ever lost or stolen, users can easily restore their full desktop environment exactly like it was to a new laptop, while data on the original laptop can be wiped remotely.
  • Portable and Persistent Desktop Images – By separating the operating system from the underlying hardware, desktop images can now be created, secured, deployed and moved across any supported hardware, greatly reducing the maintenance burden on IT and simplifying disaster recovery for laptop users.
  • Expanded Hardware and Device Support – XenClient now also includes several new capabilities that were not supported in the initial beta release. These include multiple usability and security enhancements, new synchronization features, and expanded support for hardware platforms, wireless adapters and USB-based devices such as webcams, iPads, iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys and Windows Mobile devices.
  • Optimized for Intel® vPro™ – The XenClient hypervisor was designed jointly with Intel to work seamlessly with the underlying hardware. Intel Core vPro processors are designed to provide the best experience for end-users and IT through use of Intel hardware-assisted virtualization, management and security technologies.
Key Facts and Highlights (XenVault):
  • Protects and Isolates User Data – The new XenVault technology automatically and transparently saves any user data created by corporate apps into an encrypted folder, ensuring that it is protected at all times from unauthorized users.
  • Ideal for Contractors and BYOC – Because XenVault supports both virtual and physical desktops, it is an ideal solution for contractors and employee-owned laptops where users don’t want IT installing software on their personal laptops. When a contract is over, an employee terminates, or the laptop is lost or stolen, corporate data remains secure, and can even be wiped remotely.
  • Supports XenApp and App-V – XenVault automatically encrypts data created by any corporate app that is delivered by Citrix XenApp™ (or the XenApp feature of XenDesktop) or Microsoft App-V.

Snapshot Analysis

As organizations increasingly deploy laptop computers and/or allow staff to bring in their own computers, they face the fact that the world is a pretty hostile place. It is very easy for staff not only to bring in new clients and revenue but to also bring in new worms, virusus and other security threats. One approach, according to Citrix, Virtual Computer, Neocleus, MokaFive, and Wanova, is to enfold those devices in a broad environment that manages physical and virtual images, automatically provisions those enivronments and assures that if something attacks an image (virtual or physical desktop), that it is easily repaired and doesn't represent an attack on the organization's IT infrastructure.

Although I've not seen a demonstration (I've been rather hard to pin down over the past few weeks), I have no doubt that a demo would show IT decision makers a way to resolve a number of problems they've faced for a long time.

Citrix challenge, of course, is not technology. The company's real challenge is getting the word out about what they offer, how it could make the lives of IT staff better and how the organization would experience a broad savings in their overall IT budget through the use of Citrix's technology.

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