Sneak Peek at "Desktop Delivery a la Citrix XenDesktop

Calendar showdown! My friends at Citrix and I were just not able to get together to speak about their newest edition of XenDesktop.

Calendar showdown! My friends at Citrix and I were just not able to get together to speak about their newest edition of XenDesktop. That's too bad. After reading through the presentation deck that they supplied, I was really intrigued. I believe that this announcement is the first view of what the combination of technologies from Citrix, Ardence and XenSource can become when stirred together in beaker in Citrix's lab/kitchen.

Here's how Citrix describes XenDesktop

Here's how Citrix described this move.

"Desktop virtualization, as a technology, provides an important first step by centralizing desktops and hosting them on a virtual machine infrastructure in the datacenter, then delivering them to end users over the network using a virtual delivery protocol. This centralization makes it far easier to secure user data and control desktop access for thousands of users across a distributed enterprise.

Simply shifting desktop images from endpoints into the datacenter, however, does nothing to solve fundamental desktop lifecycle management issues like image provisioning, monitoring and update management. First-generation desktop virtualization solutions, in fact, often make the problem worse. Instead of PC sprawl, IT departments suddenly have to contend with virtual desktop "image sprawl" in the datacenter, a problem that can balloon datacenter storage and negatively impact green computing initiatives. Standalone desktop virtualization products can also have a substantially negative impact on end-user experience, often degrading performance to the point where virtual desktops become almost unusable."

So what's Citrix really doing?

If I really understood what Citrix announced, they have combined the ICA protocol from XenApp, the VM infrastructure from XenServer, the OS Streaming from Provisioning Server technologies from Ardence and the management environment from Citrix. The net result (pun intended) is a system that allows desktop images to be generated on the fly that start with an operating system image, adds applications needed for that individual user or user group (based upon what the directory service says is approporate for that user) and finally adds the personalization that user has set up.

The resulting compound image runs on servers in the datacenter. The user interface is delivered down the network to the user's device. I suspect that this image could also be delievered down to the users device prior to an off-site trip or every morning for users working in their offices. This "new image every day" approach, combined with separating the operating system from the application images, could control viruses and worms in a new way.

Snapshot analysis

Although I've not downloaded the publicly available beta test software, it seems that the recipe Citrix has come up with will taste pretty good to medium and large organizations that find themselves seeking ways to make Windows work in a better way. Since I know of many other companies putting together desktop virtualization products, its going to be interesting to see if this dish will be enticing to customers. I suspect it will.

This approach has the promise of offering the central management of a complex environment combined with either central execution or remote execution depending upon what's best for each user. The cost of ownership figures of this approach would have to be lower than an environment in which IT has to create, manage, update and retire images for each user's system individually.


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