By Cara Garretson
Citrix is aiming to make virtual desktops commonplace in corporate environments with the release of its new XenDesktop software.
Slated for availability Nov. 16, XenDesktop 4 will work with major desktop virtualization models including Citrix's XenServer, Microsoft's Windows Server hyper-V, and VMware ESX, according to company officials. With this flexibility to work with different hypervisors, as well as improved security and performance, Citrix is hoping that more companies will leverage XenDesktop 4 to reap the advantages offered by desktop virtualization, such as simplified management and quicker deployment of PCs.
In a competitive analysis of the desktop virtualization market published in November 2008, Matthew McCormack, client computing consultant with research firm IDC, said that adoption of virtualization on the desktop was still in the early stages, "but greatly increased business interest is starting to drive more adoption." McCormick predicted that, over the next few years, uptake of virtual desktops will begin to approach that of virtualized server environments, which have become increasingly popular. "2009 will be a developmental year for desktop virtualization technology with lots of pilot activity," he said. "Onwards from 2010, we'll see the technology begin to enter the mainstream."
With its announcement earlier this week, Citrix is calling 2010 a "watershed year" for desktop virtualization, claiming that the new version of XenDesktop will make virtual desktops a mainstream reality for hundreds of millions of users. With the release of Windows 7, Citrix is expecting enterprises to refresh their desktops and at the same time consider virtualizing them.
XenDesktop 4 gives users access to their Windows desktop and everything on it from any location or device, according to Citrix, while also offering administrators the ability to centrally manage those desktops. That means users do not need to be associated with a specific device, allowing them to use the PC, Mac, thin client, laptop, or notebook of their choice -- or buy their own computer and have it equipped with Citrix's software.
It also means administrators can more easily manage employee additions, moves, and other changes, the company says.
XenDesktop 4 includes Citrix's XenApp capabilities, according to the company, allowing adminstrators to deliver on-demand applications to physical or virtual desktops and eliminating the cost and complexity of having applications run locally on users' PCs. By giving users access to a self-service app store that is accessible from anywhere, administrators can stream applications and therefore control access to data, manage fewer desktop images, avoid software conflicts, as well as simplify adding, updating, and removing applications, according to Citrix.
The upgrade also includes new features to Citrix's HDX high-definition experience technology, which enhances multimedia content and allows for real-time collaboration, but uses up to 90 percent less bandwith than competing products, says the company. This release also allows corporations to manage virtual desktops from Microsoft's System Center management platform.
XenDesktop 4 will be available in three editions: Standard, priced at $75 per user; Enterprise, at $225 per user; and Platinum at $350 per user.
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