Citrix plans virtual desktops

XenDesktop will centralize control of workstations

Next year Citrix will launch desktop virtualization software that can help businesses save money by centralizing desktop images as well as improve security by centralizing applications and data.

At its iForum conference this week in Las Vegas, Citrix is announcing XenDesktop, desktop-virtualization software that is an outgrowth of its purchase of XenSource.

XenDesktop, available next year, will support delivering virtual Windows desktops to workers' desktop hardware. The virtual architecture can save money and increase security by having all desktops centrally located and under IT control.

Citrix is formalizing into its product line virtualization software it acquired when it bought XenSource. This includes Citrix XenServer, which is software for managing server virtualization in the datacenter and is based on the Xen virtualization engine. The new product line ranges from Citrix XenServer Express Edition, a free single-server platform, to Citrix XenServer Enterprise Edition.

Citrix is also introducing a feature to make dialing phone numbers from within applications possible through its Presentation Server product.

New software supports click-to-call features within any application supported by Presentation Server. This new capability, called EasyCall, means that if a phone number appears in an application, the user can click on it and a call will be placed to it.

The feature requires a desktop client and a US$3,500 communications gateway deployed on the network. The appliance interprets the number, places a call to it through the corporate PBX, and places a call to the phone of the user who clicked on the number. The appliance then bridges the two calls together. EasyCall works with any phone system, Citrix says.

Using EasyCall, customers also can embed an XML call-now button in Web applications or on Web sites, making the client software unnecessary. A user who clicks receives a phone call from the appliance and when the user picks up, hears the phone ringing to the party who was called.

EasyCall comes standard with platinum editions of Citrix NetScaler for Web applications and Citrix Presentation Server for Windows applications. The capability is broader than Citrix's alliance with Cisco to support click-to-dial in conjunction with Cisco's Call Manager.

Also at iForum, Cirix is introducing a tool for its Presentation Server that records application sessions and stores them in video files for later scrutiny.

Called SmartAuditor, customers can set the tool to record only certain sessions using parameters such as user, application and the sensitivity of the transaction, Citrix says.

The files it creates are digitally signed and time-stamped so they can be used to fulfill auditing and compliance requirements. Auditors can view actual application sessions and see for themselves whether security and access policies were upheld.

SmartAuditor is standard with the platinum edition of Presentation Server.

In addition, Citrix is introducing a new Presentation Server feature that can summon up or turn down server capacity based on demand or on preset policies. The company describes this feature as an energy-saving measure.

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