Citrix makes the desktop virtual with XenDesktop

Citrix is now shipping its XenDesktop virtual machine software

Hoping to stay a step ahead of rival VMware, Citrix Systems is now shipping its XenDesktop product line of desktop virtualization software.

Announced Tuesday at the company's annual Citrix Synergy conference in Houston, XenDesktop comes in five editions, including a free bare-bones Express Edition that will give small businesses and developers a chance to test the product for as many as 10 users without having to worry about licensing fees.

XenDesktop delivers the Windows desktop to clients over the network, using virtual machine technology. These virtualized desktops are actually run on a central server, making it easier for them to be managed by IT staff.

After having a virtual monopoly on remote Windows desktop connection software, Citrix has been feeling some competitive heat lately from VMware. Analysts say VMware's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is still a year or two away from providing stiff competition to Citrix, but the virtualization software vendor, which is majority-owned by EMC, clearly has Citrix's attention.

In October of last year, Citrix spent US$500 million to acquire VMware competitor XenSource. XenDesktop uses Xen's hypervisor software, and Citrix has a data center product called XenServer that is based on XenSource's product.

Although XenDesktop takes a different approach from Citrix's older XenApp software (formerly known as Presentation Manager), it is a similar type of product. With XenApp, users are delivered applications, or even very basic Windows environments called published desktops, from a central server.

Published desktops are generic and cannot be easily customized for individual users. In contrast, XenDesktop gives the users a full-featured Windows environment, but one that can still be centrally managed by IT staff.

This will make XenDesktop appealing to many more desktop users in the enterprise, said David Roussain, Citrix's corporate vice president of virtualization marketing.

"We see that the desktop virtualization market is going to grow dramatically over the next five years," he said. "Enterprises need to find a way to dramatically lower the cost of delivering desktops in the corporation."

That need to centrally control desktops may appeal to very large companies that are worried about things such as desktop policy compliance, but smaller businesses will stick with Citrix's traditional products, which are widely used to give workers remote access to applications, said Roman Gruzdev, CEO of IT consultancy Sequentur, in Arlington, Virginia. "I mostly do small and medium businesses, and for them, I don't see how it's going to be an advantage to have XenDesktop."

Because it delivers a customized version of Windows, where things such as Windows DLLs (Dynamic Link Libraries) can be changed, XenDesktop will make it easier for some applications to run with XenApp. However, because the software is being run remotely, there will still be limitations. Graphics programs that use a lot of processor power may not work well in XenDesktop environments, for example.

And companies that are provisioning hundreds of presentation desktops on a single XenApp server will have to add hardware to serve up that many versions of Windows using XenDesktop. Roussain says a Citrix server that could provide 200 to 300 presentation desktops can handle maybe 30 virtual machine desktops with XenDesktop.

The brewing fight between VMware and Citrix in the desktop virtualization market will ultimately be a good thing for customers, said Brian Madden, an independent industry analyst who publishes a popular desktop virtualization blog. "For the past 10 years, Citrix was an absolute monopoly. There was no one else at the enterprise level doing what Citrix was doing," he said. We're going to go, for the first time, to market-driven pricing versus monopoly-driven pricing."

In fact, some customers may already see signs of this in Tuesday's announcement. Enterprise and Platinum XenDesktop customers get a free license to use XenApp with their virtual desktops. Normally, XenApp costs US$450 per concurrent Enterprise user and $600 per Platinum license. That's more than the US$295 and $396 that Enterprise and Platinum XenDesktop users pay.

Available immediately, XenDesktop also comes in Standard and Advanced editions, which cost US$75 and $195 per concurrent user.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?