If you have followed recent Citrix announcements and a number of blogs and other postings, you probably already know that we are working on a product line in the Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) space, codenamed Trinity (by the way, Dynamic Desktop Initiative or DDI, is Citrix name for VDI). As the product architect assigned to Trinity, I intend to post here occasionally to keep you up to date on our plans and progress. As always with this type of blog, please note that much of this information is about work in progress, and I certainly cannot commit to dates or promise that certain features will make it into a final product.

With that out of the way, I would like to devote this first post to a brief overview of where and how Trinity originated, and then talk about the first couple of deliverables in the Trinity product line. Some topics I had in mind for future postings include thoughts and impressions from VMworld 2006, which I attended last month, my view on where we are as an industry with VDI, and a more detailed dissection of the various types of virtualization that are part of, or relate to Trinity. Do let me know if there are any topics you are particularly interested in, and I will try to cover them if I can.

Trinity did not just start out of the blue recently at Citrix; in some form or fashion, its roots reach all the way back to 2003, when product idea #408, on demand access to desktops was submitted. In fact it is quite likely that ideas in this area had been floating around well before that submission. The gist of that product idea pretty much covers what subsequently became known as VDI. Oh, and by the way, we are up to product idea #2098 in the meantime.

In any case, some initial investigation efforts were kicked off in our Products group, and I remember a presentation that Richard Mazzaferri and Anatoliy Panasyuk gave to the UK engineering team, outlining the concepts of brokered access to virtual desktops. This sparked quite a few I like one of them, please comments from our development team.

I do not have much visibility on what happened subsequently, except that there was never really any resource available to work on it in more detail, until things started to bubble up again early this year, which was also when Trinity was coined as a project name. After a more detailed architecture and design had been worked out, there was a bit of to-and-from between the various engineering sites in Citrix, until eventually we ended up with engineering resource being provided in both the Sydney and the Chalfont sites.

Now to complicate matters a bit, there is a second strand to the Trinity lineage, which has also been going for some time, originating from the project Dart (which was never released but influenced a number of other Citrix products such as Access Essentials, or the Access Management Console but I digress). After several iterations, this culminated in the Remote Desktop Broker (RDB) for Presentation Server, which was released earlier this year as the first Citrix DDI deliverable. You can read all about RDB in a FAQ on the Citrix web site, but in a nutshell it allows you to publish an RDP proxy component on a Presentation Server, which will route the connecting user to their virtual desktop based on a configuration of virtual desktop pools that an administrator controls through a management GUI.

All this begs the question, how all these things fit together, and what we are planning for the next couple of Trinity releases. Assuming that you have a basic understanding of Remote Desktop Broker, this can be summarized as:

We target a first release of Trinity for the first half of next year, based on Remote Desktop Broker that you have already seen. It will build on the existing combination of CPS + RDB but re-engineered to deliver an integrated product and improve the administrative experience by delivering consistent access to both shared and dedicated desktops. Maybe a word about nomenclature here: shared desktops are what you are already used to from CPS published desktop feature, while dedicated desktops are single-user OSes, whether they run on physical hardware or as a virtual machine image. Terminology hasn’t been finalized yet, though. We are also working on a simpler licensing scheme for this release of Trinity, but details are still being finalized.

In the meantime, we are working on the second release, which is currently slated for release in the second half of next year. This is when we will integrate PortICA, and thus deliver the benefits of ICA that can get lost in RDB double-hop solution. While the ICA stack for dedicated desktops will certainly be big news for this release, we are also planning to take advantage of the server-side infrastructure that we built for Presentation Server to bring you an integrated, seamless experience for both administrators and end users. Our goal is to make it as simple as possible for end users to access their desktop, building upon the existing application delivery infrastructure, i.e. Web Interface, PNAgent and the like. On the other hand, administrators will be able to benefit from the same tools and features that they are used to from Presentation Server.

So much for the marketing piece – I’ll flesh out our current plans for the second Trinity release in a bit more technical detail in a future post, but until then I be interested to hear your views on Trinity, VDI, DDI, RDB, or any other three-letter acronym.

Note: I hand-edited this post since it seems to have been badly garbled during the transition to our new blogging platform. I haven’t materially altered its content though (although some parts of it are now a bit out of date).