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October 6, 2009

Citrix unveils XenDesktop 4

Virtualised desktops for the masses

By Steve Evans

Citrix has unveiled XenDesktop 4, promising the first complete desktop virtualisation platform. The company hopes that the centrally-managed platform will open desktop virtualisation up to a wider audience.

Citrix claims that XenDesktop 4 offers a virtualised desktop infrastructure that is not tethered to any devices and can offer different types of desktop depending on a user’s needs.

Raj Dhingra, general manager, XenDesktop, said: “PCs were designed for a very different world, they are too confining now with remote workers and it’s not enough. A virtual desktop has to be able to replace a traditional desktop. This enables a connection trough any device, anywhere, anytime.”

The firm says that the centrepiece of XenDesktop 4 is a new technology called FlexCast. This delivery technology is said to enable to deliver any type of virtual desktop tailored to a user’s specific needs, while all virtualised desktops can be managed centrally. The company added that for task workers requiring a similar set of applications, they can be provided with a locked-down desktop featuring no customisation. This model can support up to 500 users on a single server.

For users requiring a little more personalisation a VM-based model, commonly referred to as VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), is offered. This ensures that each user’s desktop is run in a dedicated virtual machine. This model can generally support 60-70 users per server.

XenDesktop 4 integrates capabilities from XenApp, enabling companies to offer on-demand applications to physical or virtual desktops. Citrix claims that this enables IT to control data access, manage fewer desktop images, eliminate system conflicts and reduce application regression testing. This can improve desktop virtualisation ROI by making application delivery a central part of IT’s desktop management system.

Dhingra also added that XenDesktop 4 enhances the user experience through improvements to Citrix’s high-definition HDX technology. This means improved multimedia content, collaboration technologies and 3D graphics, which Citrix claims can help dispersed design teams to collaborate on CAD/CAM and GIS projects.

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Dhingra said that this can cut bandwidth requirements by up to 90% when compared to some of the alternative desktop virtualisation technologies by optimising the bandwidth available to each user’s individual requirements.

“2010 will be a watershed year for desktop virtualisation, ushering in a new era that will revolutionise the way we work, live and play,” said Mark Templeton, president and CEO, Citrix Systems.

“25 years ago, the personal computer turned the world upside down, radically improving individual productivity and communications. That world is about to change again. People today need to work in entirely new ways, powered by the connectivity of the internet, an explosion of new devices, and the limitless promise of the web. And they need to do it without being confined to ordinary desktops that are locked to an office, a device, or a network,” Templeton said.

The platform will be available on November 16 and will be licensed on a per user basis. There are three price models available: Standard – $75 per user, Enterprise – $225 per user and Platinum – $350 per user.


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