Citrix upgrades XenDesktop with RingCube technology

XenDesktop 5.5 makes it possible to roll out a common virtual desktop while still allowing its users to retain personalised settings, data and apps, according to Citrix

Citrix has updated its XenDesktop line to version 5.5, which introduces integrated virtual disk technology that the company picked up when it bought RingCube earlier this month.

The RingCube vDisk technology makes it possible to deploy a common Windows virtual desktop that can then be personalised for each employee. According to Citrix, companies introducing virtual desktops have until now had to choose between rolling out multiple personalised desktops, or common but non-personalised desktops.

"With this new release of XenDesktop, we are making virtual desktops simple and affordable for IT by incorporating technology from our recent RingCube acquisition," Citrix enterprise desktop chief Bob Schultz said in a statement on Wednesday.

Citrix announced its purchase of RingCube on 10 August, just two weeks before XenDesktop got its update.

RingCube's virtual disk technology allows each person to have their own vDisk, which includes apps, data and settings specific to that individual. The vDisks for various users can be rolled out alongside the common desktop, which is how the technology sidesteps the traditional trade-off between personalisation and simple deployment.

Another change in XenDesktop 5.5 is the addition of Citrix's HDX technology. The feature delivers high-definition virtual desktops up to three times faster than the previous version, over both wireless and fixed networks, the company said.

With this new release of XenDesktop, we are making virtual desktops simple and affordable for IT by incorporating technology from our recent RingCube acquisition.

– Bob Schultz, Citrix

The new version of XenDesktop, a bare-metal hypervisor designed to reproduce normal PC desktop environments remotely on desktops and mobile devices alike, aims to make it possible for the first time for customers to build "private desktop clouds", according to the virtualisation specialist.

"Citrix has spent more than two years and thousands of engineering man hours... to deliver over 150 new HDX features and enhancements to optimise enterprise desktop and app delivery and user experience for the private cloud," Citrix senior product marketing manager Kevin Strohmeyer said in a blog post.

XenDesktop 5.5 includes XenClient 2, the second iteration of a technology that lets businesses manage desktops centrally and execute them locally on client hypervisors, even offline. The new version of XenClient expands hardware compatibility and simplifies the user experience, Citrix said.

Another feature of XenDesktop 5.5 is XenApp 6.5, a new version of Citrix's application delivery software. XenApp 6.5 lets administrators remotely deploy virtualised apps in high definition, and Citrix said app launch times were halved when compared with the previous version.

XenDesktop 5.5 is immediately available for download, with suggested pricing for the basic VDI-only edition at $95 (£58) per user or per device. The Enterprise and Platinum editions, which include more comprehensive desktop virtualisation, along with application virtualisation, are priced at $225 and $350 respectively.

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