Citrix kicks off XenSource era by going bandwagon mad
Virtualization, compliance, green IT and VoIP. What's left?
Citrix will try to impress customers with a healthy dose of the new and old at its iForum conference taking place this week in Las Vegas. Predictably, the new bits stem from Citrix's plans with the freshly acquired XenSource software, while most of the "old" bits concern additions to the venerable Presentation Server.
The first reveal of Citrix's XenSource agenda may well receive the most attention this week. The Presentation Server tweaks, however, provide some of the most immediate and intriguing benefits to customers.
On the XenSource front, Citrix has rebranded Xen Enterprise 4.0 as Citrix XenServer Enterprise Edition. Since Citrix has just completed its acquisition of XenSource a couple months after the release of Xen Enterprise 4.0, there's not much going on here besides rebadging. Customers can pick up the XenSource code for their server slicing tasks, receiving fairly similar tools to what they'll see from market leader VMware.
Citrix will also continue the practice of offering a free, single-server version of the software under the Citrix XenServer Express Edition brand.
But it's not all marketing maneuvers with Citrix and its fresh code. The company will ship something dubbed Citrix XenDesktop in the first half of next year. With XenDesktop, we find Citrix melding XenServer with its own Desktop Server and Provisioning Server products. Customers will see a software bundle that allows for server-based delivery of desktop operating systems.
"Citrix XenDesktop will combine a powerful WAN-optimized desktop delivery controller (based on Citrix Desktop Server with native ICA protocol support), a full virtual infrastructure for hosting any number of virtual desktops in the datacenter (based on Citrix XenServer) and dynamic provisioning to stream desktop images on-demand from network storage (based on Citrix Provisioning Server)," Citrix said.
Citrix declined to reveal pricing for the desktop bundle at this time, but it's threatening to try out pricing models which may give VMware trouble.
"We will price this aggressively," Citrix Chief Strategy Officer Wes Wasson told us.
Turning back to Citrix's flagship code, customers will see the vendor jumping on just about any bandwagon it can find via compliance, green computing and unified communication tools.
For compliance, Citrix has rolled out SmartAuditor as a new option in Presentation Server. This software will record a user's actions on his PC and then send a replay of those actions back to a server or storage system.
"Some users work with sensitive data, while others are involved with outsourced tasks or maybe sensitive applications," Wasson said. "SmartAuditor lets the customer set policies to record an entire user session anytime a particular event in triggered. Then, you get a video clip of what the user was seeing."
Available immediately (Platinum Edition only), SmartAuditor records a user session as opposed to all the traffic being sent over a network, so the recorded files only take up a few KB "for long sessions," according to Wasson. Customers can instruct the software to record users, for example, during specific times of day and when using certain software.
The greenies out there may be more moved by PowerSmart - a software package that, well, can power down servers. Similar tools already exist, although Citrix claims an edge over rivals in that it doesn't shut down systems only based on time of day. Instead, Citrix's software can monitor server usage to decide the best means of load balancing code and shutting down idle boxes.
The new tool will ship in December for Presentation Server, and is being demoed this week at iForum with HP's ProLiant x86 boxes.
Possibly saving the weirdest new package for last, we bring you EasyCall. This software works with both NetScaler and Presentation Server and can add a click-to-call feature to just about any software package.
The software looks for phone numbers in documents, web pages and contact lists and pops up a dialer when appropriate.
"When the user clicks on the dialer, EasyCall initiates a call between the user’s preferred telephone – office, mobile or home – and the destination number, using that user’s corporate telephone system," Citrix said. "As a result, all application users, including the ever-growing mobile workforce, have the ability to initiate calls intuitively from any application without stopping to dial a separate device. Because EasyCall initiates the call using the company’s existing corporate phone system, end users also avoid expensive local phone rates and surcharges when traveling or working from home."
As far as we can tell, you have to be pretty damned lazy to demand that your computer and not your fingers make a phone call. As Citrix points out, however, there is money to be saved by letting your PC do all the grunt work since calls are routed back through corporate phone banks. You can use EasyCall with legacy or VoIP gear.
The software is available now at no charge with NetScaler Platinum Edition and Presentation Server Platinum Edition. ®