A Look At The New Citrix XenDesktop Release

Citrix Systems earlier this week announced a new release of Citrix XenDesktop that extends the benefits of desktop virtualization to enterprise laptop users with the addition of two new technologies: Citrix XenClient and Citrix XenVault.

Together, these two technologies make it easy for IT to incorporate mobile laptop users into a unified enterprise desktop virtualization strategy with unparalleled security and simplicity – including corporate-owned laptops managed by IT, as well as user-owned devices brought in by contractors or employees in a BYOC (bring your own computer) program.

Desktop virtualization is rapidly growing in popularity as a more secure, flexible way to deliver Windows desktops to business users in any location. With this new release, companies of all sizes can now deploy a single desktop virtualization solution that seamlessly supports both desk-based and laptop users in just about any scenario. With laptop users representing half of the workforce in many companies, today’s announcement represents a major milestone that significantly expands the reach of desktop virtualization to millions of new users.

Most mobile employees today do the majority of their work on company-owned laptops. For these workers, the best solution is a virtual desktop that runs directly on their laptop. This approach gives IT all the central management and security benefits of server hosted virtual desktops (VDI), combined with all the flexibility and ability to be disconnected from the network that come with traditional, locally installed desktops. And because the desktops runs in a local VM at all times, users never have to go through the cumbersome time consuming process “checking-out” their virtual desktop by downloading it from a central server each time they leave the office. These new capabilities are all enabled by the new XenClient technology, a groundbreaking client-side hypervisor developed in close collaboration with Intel, and optimized for the Intel Core vPro technology.

With the addition of the new XenClient and XenVault features, XenDesktop extends its lead as the most comprehensive and flexible desktop virtualization solution on the market.

Key Facts and Highlights (XenClient):

  • Enables Virtual Desktops “To Go” – XenClient is a client-side hypervisor that enables virtual desktops to run directly on client devices. It provides all the security and central management of VDI, while allowing users to seamlessly work online or disconnected without any cumbersome check-in or check-out requirements, just as they would with a traditional locally installed desktop. While XenClient can be run on any supported PC hardware, it is ideally suited to corporate-owned laptops.
  • Control for IT, Flexibility for Users – XenClient makes it easy for IT to deliver a secure, centrally managed corporate desktop environment to laptop users without compromising user experience. They can even set up a second personal virtual desktop on the same laptop, giving users full freedom, without compromising corporate security.
  • Centralized Backup and Recovery – When disconnected from the network, XenClient operates just like a traditional installed desktop. As soon as users connect to the network, it automatically synchronizes any changes with the datacenter, ensuring full centralized backup of all corporate laptops. If a laptop is ever lost or stolen, users can easily restore their full desktop environment exactly like it was to a new laptop, while data on the original laptop can be wiped remotely.
  • Portable and Persistent Desktop Images – By separating the operating system from the underlying hardware, desktop images can now be created, secured, deployed and moved across any supported hardware, greatly reducing the maintenance burden on IT and simplifying disaster recovery for laptop users.
  • Expanded Hardware and Device Support – XenClient now also includes several new capabilities that were not supported in the initial beta release. These include multiple usability and security enhancements, new synchronization features, and expanded support for hardware platforms, wireless adapters and USB-based devices such as webcams, iPads, iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys and Windows Mobile devices.
  • Optimized for Intel vPro – The XenClient hypervisor was designed jointly with Intel to work seamlessly with the underlying hardware. Intel Core vPro processors are designed to provide the best experience for end-users and IT through use of Intel hardware-assisted virtualization, management and security technologies.

Key Facts and Highlights (XenVault):

  • Protects and Isolates User Data The new XenVault technology automatically and transparently saves any user data created by corporate apps into an encrypted folder, ensuring that it is protected at all times from unauthorized users.
  • Ideal for Contractors and BYOC Because XenVault supports both virtual and physical desktops, it is an ideal solution for contractors and employee-owned laptops where users don’t want IT installing software on their personal laptops. When a contract is over, an employee terminates, or the laptop is lost or stolen, corporate data remains secure, and can even be wiped remotely.
  • Supports XenApp and App-V XenVault automatically encrypts data created by any corporate app that is delivered by Citrix XenApp (or the XenApp feature of XenDesktop) or Microsoft App-V.

The new XenClient and XenVault technologies will both ship in the new XenDesktop 4, Feature Pack 2 release, available at the end of September. XenClient is available at no additional charge for XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum editions customers with current Subscription Advantage agreements.

XenVault is enabled through a plug-in to the Citrix Receiver software client, which is available at no additional charge to all XenDesktop and XenApp customers. Citrix XenDesktop, including the new XenClient and XenVault technologies, will be demonstrated in the Citrix booth #1219 at VMworld San Francisco, Aug. 30 – Sept. 2.

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I'm a blogger, entrepreneur, conference organizer, social media consultant, startup advisor and allround web addict, based in Belgium, Europe. I'm a writer at TechCrunch and managing editor of Virtualization.com.

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