Citrix: Seamless desktop virtualization

If your organization wants to offer access to applications and data to users of smartphones, tablets, thin clients, laptops and desktop systems simply and easily, XenDesktop from Citrix has the tools you need.

I was scanning through my notes after reading through Kevin Strohmeyer, Citrix's Sr. Manager, Product Marketing Enterprise Apps and Desktops, presentation on XenDesktop 5 Service Pack 1.

Quick Summary of XenDesktop 5.1

Citrix has succeed in melding several different forms of virtualization together to present a seamless experience. The company has managed to tie access virtualization, application virtualization and processing virtualization together in a way that makes it possible for people to access applications and data from nearly every type of networkable system without having to know which form of virtualization they're using at the moment.

Citrix XenDesktop 5 makes it possible for organizations to create, provision and then deploy client software such that access virtualization, application virtualization or processing virtualization (or some combination of those types of technology) are made available to users.

Citrix has also improved how virtual machine memory is utilized when the workload is presented as a virtual client or desktop running back in the data center. Citrix has found a way to make the virtual machine memory allocation dynamic so that server memory can be used optimally without requiring companies have extensive expertise in virtual machine configuration and tuning.

What is Desktop Virtualization

Desktop virtualization seems to be a topic that confuses many folks. I believe this is because some suppliers would prefer people be confused so that they could sell a limited function solution rather than offering a complete offering.

Simply said, Desktop Virtualization is the use of several virtualization technologies either together or separately to increase levels of security, manageability and agility for desktop computing environments. Let's look at how different types of virtualization support desktop virtualization:

  • When the phrase desktop virtualization is used to describe making it possible for people to access a physical or virtual system remotely, access virtualization technology is used to capture the user interface portion of an application. It is then converted to a neutral format and then projected across the network to a device that can display the user interface and allow the user to enter and access information. This means that just about any type of network enabled device could be used to access the application.
  • When the phrase desktop virtualization is used to describe encapsulating an application using client-side application virtualization technology and then projecting it in whole or piecemeal to a remote system for execution. The application could either remain on that client device or be deleted once the user completes the task depending upon the settings used by the IT administrator. This means, of course, that the client system has run the operating system needed by the application. So, Windows applications would need to run on Windows executing on a PC or Laptop.
  • When the phrase desktop virtualization is used to describe encapsulating the entire stack of software that runs on a client system, the phase starts to take on a great deal of complexity. That encapsulated virtual client system becomes highly mobile. Here are the possibilities:
    • One or more virtual client systems could execute on a single physical client system. This allows personal applications to run side by side with locked down, corporate applications.
    • Local execution. Virtual client systems, that is a complete desktop or laptop system image that has been encapsulated in a virtual machine, could run on a local blade server. The user interface is projected to physical PCs, Laptops or Thin client systems using access virtualization technology.
    • Remote execution. Virtual client systems could run on a server that resides in the organizations data center. The user interface is projected to physical PCs, Laptops or Thin client systems using access virtualization technology.

Since the industry is using the same phrase, desktop virtualization, to describe all of these different approaches, the concept can be quite confusing to those unfamiliar with all of the different types of technology that could be pressed into service.

Snapshot analysis

If your organization wants to offer access to applications and data to users of smartphones, tablets, thin clients, laptops and desktop systems simply and easily, XenDesktop from Citrix has the tools you need. Citrix has made it possible for its customers to create and then provision solutions that dynamically chose the type of virtualization needed at the moment.