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Citrix takes bare-metal hypervisor to PCs

XenClient less than it could be

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Not for everybody

But the XenClient hypervisor for PCs, as you can see from the specs, is fairly limited in terms of the machines it supports. Your PC needs an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i5, or Core i7 processor, and Intel's GMA 4500 or HD Graphics adapters. Intel's wireless electronics are supported, and you need 4GB of main memory and 160GB of disk to use XenClient. Intel's vPro extensions for managing PCs are strongly recommended.

So far, HP's EliteBook 6930p, 2530p, 8440p; Dell's Latitude E4300, E6400, E4310, E6410, E6500, and E6510 and Optiplex 780; and Lenovo's ThinkPad X200, T400, and T500 PCs are supported. If you have one of those machines, you can download it and see what it is all about. If not, well, there are always hosted hypervisors such as Oracle's VirtualBox (if you want to spend nothing) and VMware Workstation (if you want to give VMware some money).

The problem with XenClient, and with modern office workers and contractors, is that many of them are using their own PCs and don't want the IT department of their full-time or temporary employer mucking about on their machine — Dhawan cited a statistic from an unnamed source that says 20 percent of the US workforce is comprised of contractor employees.

This is probably the resistance that Maritz was alluding to back in July when he said that VMware had pulled the plug on its own bare-metal hypervisor. If you don't buy the PC, then it's a little hard to be all that demanding about what can be installed on it. If companies shelled out a couple grand for a brand new laptop with a bare-metal hypervisor, and could use one partition for private use, it would probably gain a lot more acceptance. But it would cost more money for the IT department, too.

And so for mobile and contract employees, Citrix has cooked up a little something called XenVault, which is an encrypted directory on a PC that is controlled by XenDesktop. When applications are streamed down from XenDesktop to PCs, any data created by or used by these applications is stored in this encrypted directory.

If applications are streamed down to a PC in a way that allows them to work offline, they can continue to do so because the data is on their machine in that encrypted folder. And if an employee if terminated or a laptop is stolen, the IT department can sync up with the machine once it hits a network and either lock the encrypted files or wipe them off the machine. Because it's a just a directory on a PC, XenVault will work on any PC that can have a XenDesktop receiver on it.

The bundled XenClient hypervisor and XenVault secure directory for XenDesktop 4 will both be added to Feature Pack 2 for XenDesktop, which will ship in the last week of September. ®

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