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Citrix launches XenDesktop 5, XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack, OpenCloud modules

Citrix launched significant upgrades of its virtual meeting, virtual desktop, virtual server and virtual cloud platform at its Synergy show in Berlin today. The launch of XenDesktop 5 is the company’s most significant announcement.
Written by Paula Rooney, Contributor

Citrix launched significant upgrades of its virtual meeting, virtual desktop, virtual server and virtual cloud platform at its Synergy show in Berlin today.

The launch of XenDesktop 5is the company’s most significant announcement. XenDesktop 5 features a simpler and more powerful user interface, enhanced HDX user experience and new support for the iPad , Dell Streak and new tablets. It also now integrates the company’s Dazzle self-service application access technology into the Citrix Receiver.

XenDesktop 5 offers a "10 minutes to Xen" installation feature and three new consoles – Desktop Studio, Desktop Director and System Center – to simplify desktop image design , desktop image management and the ability to plug into Microsoft’s larger System Center management platform.

The interface has been made more “beautiful”and offers a new welcome screen, login experience and Desktop Viewer, and an enhanced HDX user experience with faster video collaboration, improved audio, high speed printing and intelligent quality-of-service capabilities, the companys says.

Version 5 offers support for touch-enabled enterprise applications and supports many new devices including Apple’s iPad 4.2, Blackberry PlayBook, Dell Streak, Cisco Cius, Samsung Galaxy and more. Moreover, the integration of Dazzle into Citrix Receiver (at no additional cost, the company says) offers access to any Windows, Web and SaaS application from one login.

XenDesktop now also includes robust support for corporate and employee-owned laptops. For example, Citrix provides with the new release its bare metal hypervisor called XenClient at no additional cost. This allows users to execute virtual workloads on a local machine, disconnect anytime and reconnect with built in synchronization, while at the same time allowing administrators to provide central management including one time updates and patching to that laptop.

For employee-owned laptops, Citrix’s new XenVault technology that also allows remote laptops to participate in the VDI experience securely.

Citrix claims it sold 4 million licenses of XenDesktop 4 in the first half of 2010.

On the virtual meeting front, Citrix announced a significant new videoconferencing technology addition to GoToMeeting. HD Faces, or high definition faces, allows users to have multiple video channels – hencemultiple human faces – in one meeting experience, also at no additional charge. This capability will be offered in the first quarter of 2011.

Also in the first quarter of next year, Citrix will deliver an update of its XenServer technology that offers improvements for virtual desktop technology and clouds.

The XenServer 5,6 Feature Pack, for instance, offers new Intellicache technology that optimizes storage for VDI implementations. Storage-area network requirements often increase the cost of VDI. Citrix’s new technology is said to allow for back and forth rewritesof XenDesktop and server to local storage devices and other less expensive storage options.

On the cloud front, XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack will feature a fully integrated virtual switch and self-service web administration.

There are two other new cloud products coming from Citrix in Q4 of 2010 and Q1 of 2011: Citrix OpenCloud Access and Citrix OpenCloud Bridge. Both are optional modules to Citrix’s NetScaler product.

OpenCloud Access, which is due on the fourth quarter at a price starting at $50,000 per NetScaler appliance, offers integrated security capabilities. Citrix said it

“leverages a network-based approach that coordinates credentials and makes a user’s identity borderless.  It gives easy single sign-on access to all popular SaaS applications , enterprise web applications on hosted IaaS or private cloud platforms, and internal web and Windows applications – just as if they were any other enterprise application. “

OpenCloud Bridge, which is due in the first quarter of 2011:" 

"makes it easy for enterprise customers to connect to networks in external clouds, and to access and manage cloud-based resources as a seamless extension of their own network at high speed.  By securely and transparently extending the enterprise demilitarized zone (DMZ) into the premise of the cloud, OpenCloud Bridge makes the service provider environment appear as part of a single secure network, eliminating the need to modify network, security and access configurations when applications migrate from the enterprise datacenter to an external cloud environment – or vice versa.”

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