Citrix XenClient Express kit debuts, client hypervisor solution won't ship until late 2010

Citrix has finally delivered its much anticipated Xen client hypervisor -- sort of.At its annual Synergy Conference launch today, Citrix CEO Mark Templeton announced the delivery of an evaluation kit for IT pros called XenClient Express, a trial version of the bare metal hypervisor for the desktop that can be tested in corporations in trial, small deployments.

Citrix has finally delivered its much anticipated Xen client hypervisor -- sort of.

At its annual Synergy Conference launch today, Citrix CEO Mark Templeton announced the delivery of an evaluation kit for IT pros called XenClient Express, a trial version of the bare metal hypervisor for the desktop that can be tested in corporations in trial, small deployments.

Citrix's CEO didn't say so, but wide availability of XenClient won't happen until the the next version of XenDesktop ships "later in 2010," according to a press release issued by the Ft Lauderdale, Fl company.

Nevertheless, the arrival of the bare metal hypervisor for the desktop -- especially the laptop -- ushers in a new era of corporate virtual computing, Templeton said. The client-side hypervisor was developed by Citrix and Intel.

"It's the next step of advancing virtualization on the PC," Templeton said to the crowd gathered for his San Francisco keynote. "XenClient and [Intel] Core 2 processor is the first step at delivering a no compromise solution for desktop virtualization."

The XenClient Express kit, which is available free for public download today, includes the bare metal hypervisor, the Citrix Receiver for XenClient and the Synchronizer for XenClient.

Using XenClient, users can run multiple virtual machines on a single laptop that are secure and mobile at the same time, Templeton said. Virtual machines can be run online and offline and synchronized in a fully flexible fashion, he claimed.

"It's built on super fast xen engine," said the CEO, whose firm now serves as the "steward" of the Xen.org project. "We're taking Xen which started life in the data center and now taking it end to end to the client."

In a veiled swipe at KVM, the other open source hypervisor that is included in the Linux kernel, Templeton dubbed XenClient as a "super fast 64-bit bad-to-the-bone hypervisor ... a true type 1 hypervisor that delivers bare metal experience to the applications and the operating system."

Citrix added a Receiver for XenClient that will allow end users to interact with and manage the virtual machine. One important function, he said, is to connect the virtual machine back to the data center via the Citrix Synchronizer, which is the third component of the trial kit.

It's a day of celebration for Citrix. But when it does finally ship, the XenClient better be as "super fast 64-bit bad-to-the-bone" as promised by Templeton. Many expected the XenClient -- first discussed in early 2009 -- would be available in 2009.

Citrix and Intel first discussed plans for a client side hypervisor for Intel Virtualization Technology and vPro technologies in January of 2009. At that time, Citrix said "the initial delivery of Project Independence, including the new Xen client hypervisor optimized for Intel vPro, is planned for the second half of 2009."

That's of a bit of a disappointment, but not that significant considering that many companies are just beginning to work with desktop virtualization more generally.