A key part of my job as Product Strategist for Multimedia Virtualization is to stay tuned in with the evolving needs of our customers for graphics and multimedia technologies. Citrix has many different ways of collecting such market input, and your comments on my blog posts are one source that I particularly appreciate. Another highly valuable source of input is the Citrix Customer Advisory Community, a global group of customers who provide their perspectives and opinions in an online community forum. What are they saying about their needs around graphics and video?

The technology referred to most frequently in a recent dialogue with the Citrix Customer Advisory Community was streaming video. At least a third of respondents specifically mentioned Adobe Flash. Obviously – and this was no surprise – Flash has been widely adopted in the enterprise for employee training and corporate communications. And Flash content has become prevalent on the Web. Many Citrix customers are publishing a web browser or a complete Windows desktop to their users, so Flash support is becoming increasingly important to them. As I noted in my blog post Secrets for Optimizing Flash Performance – Part 2, significant improvements to Flash support were introduced in XenApp 4.5. And there’s more to come. One of the priorities of the Citrix Multimedia Virtualization Initiative is to adapt our RAVE (Remote Audio and Video Extensions) technology to further optimize the delivery of Flash videos and animations while dramatically increasing server scalability. We are also looking ahead to Silverlight, an important new technology from Microsoft.

A wide variety of graphics-intensive applications were named by the Advisory Community. Several were OpenGL applications like Dassault CATIA, which will be well handled by Citrix’s new Virtual Design Studio product based on our Pictor technology. Others were DirectX based applications such as Autodesk AutoCAD/Inventor and Bentley MicroStation, for which our new Apollo accelerated bitmap remoting technology will be very well suited. Customers in the Healthcare space mentioned 3D echocardiograms and high contrast CT scans that generate large graphics models requiring hardware acceleration, again a great opportunity for Apollo technology.

Customers running 2D and lightweight 3D graphics applications commented on the excellent graphics performance of XenApp Presentation Server 4.5, thanks to the new SpeedScreen Progressive Display technology. Applications mentioned included SolidWorks eDrawings, Intergraph PDS and SmartPlant, AutoCAD Map 3D and ESRI ArcGIS. SpeedScreen Progressive Display is truly a needle-mover for the vast majority of graphics applications being used by our customers today.

Some customers are using client-side application virtualization (also known as “application streaming”) to deliver graphics applications. They get the benefits of centralized management and application isolation while fully leveraging the capabilities of the user’s PC.

Tickers that scroll horizontally were mentioned a couple of times. Today’s SuperCaching algorithm is optimized for vertical scrolling, but we’ve been doing some research into an enhanced algorithm that will accommodate scrolling in any direction. It will be interesting to test out the new algorithm with applications like on-screen “readerboards” that display text in this way.

What are your priorities for multimedia virtualization, including graphics, streaming media and real-time communications? What experience have you had delivering graphics applications with SpeedScreen Progressive Display? What are your plans for adopting unified communications, voice chat or desktop video conferencing ? I look forward to your comments!

Derek Thorslund
Product Strategist, Multimedia Virtualization