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Citrix tunes XenApp for Windows Server R2

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Citrix has unveiled XenApp 6 after re-architecting the product from the ground up to take full advantage of Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 R2.

While Citrix Systems is busy mixing and matching its various application, server, and PC virtualization products, XenApp - formerly known as Presentation Server and the software that allows for application streaming from central servers - is still the key product that drives sales and profits at the company.

Microsoft no doubt approves of XenApp's new-found support for Windows Server 2008 R2, which debuted last fall with a Hyper-V hypervisor that's better equipped to compete against Citrix' XenServer and VMware's ESX Server. That said, XenApp 6 has been modified so it can assume control of centralized and virtualized applications that use Microsoft's App-V alternative to XenApp.

This is ever the way with coopetition. And if Microsoft ever cuts Citrix off in such a way that it cannot continue to make products that leech off the Windows stack, you can bet that some hotshot law firm will be getting a call and a very juicy case about one millisecond later.

According to Alicia Rey, director of product marketing for the XenApp line at Citrix, by completely re-writing the XenApp code and optimizing it for Windows Server 2008 R2, the company is able to boost the scalability of a Windows box by around 15 per cent. (That's a like-for-like comparison, pitting the XenApp 5 announced last year against XenApp 6, with both running on the same physical server and both running Windows Server 2008 R2). Citrix says that it has validated a server farm running the Windows Server 2008 R2 and XenApp 6 combo supporting up to 150,000 concurrent users.

The updated XenApp 6 also can leverage Active Directory's group policy manager, which makes it easier for system admins to manage groups of users who are given access to streaming applications. XenApp 6 also has a new single management console, called AppCenter, that replaces a number of different consoles that have been used up until now to manage Presentation Server and XenApp as well as the applications they stream.

The AppCenter interface has been made to resemble Microsoft's own System Center management tools as much as possible, with similar drag-and-drop control of sessions, servers, users, and other aspects of a XenApp setup. The version 6 update also has new role-based installation wizards, which makes it easier for admins to set up application users, and cuts the time to do so in half.

While XenApp does the pitching for streamed applications, the Citrix client for doing the catching is called Receiver, and with this update, Receiver can now play on more client devices. Specifically, XenApp 6's implementation of Receiver can support Apple Mac OS X clients and smartphones running Google's Android variant of Linux. Citrix is only support Mac OS X clients based on Intel processors, however, which means 10.5 and 10.6 (in either 32-bit or 64-bit mode).

Smartphones and eventually smartbooks running Android can be at the 1.5, 1.6, or 2.0 level and use the latest Receiver to access hosted and streamed applications running back on Windows Server 2008 R2. Receiver already supported Windows XP, Vista, and 7 clients as well as Windows Server 2003 and 2008 servers acting as clients, and it could run on any Linux client or server with the 2.6.18 or higher kernel and the glibc 2.3.4 or higher C library. Receiver was also able to run on Apple iPhones at the 2.2.1 or 3.0 level and current versions of Windows Mobile used on other smartphones.

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