Today Citrix and Microsoft announced an expanded Desktop Virtualization partnership. I’ll let the announcement speak for itself and we’ll start to release more specifics on the solution over time, but I did want to share my perspective. I think this is good for our customers because Citrix is enabling choice by allowing them to leverage existing or planned investments and extends the reach and usability of those investments. Let me attempt to clarify what I mean.

The reality is, that many customers use or need a combination App-V, Systems Center, Citrix Application Virtualization both online and offline. I always felt that this caused some artificial confusion about what to choose. For example if I need to stream 64 bit apps with Citrix technology, and I need to stream applications which have services via App-V technology then I can now do both side by side in an integrated fashion. Your existing investments (e.g. the sunk cost of packaging, sequencing, testing and validating the applications) are protected and you can plot your course as you see fit together with Citrix and Microsoft.

I know this question will come up so I will also answer it directly based on the data in front of me. Does this mean Citrix is stopping Application Virtualization development? Well, now that I have the advantage of having access to status reports I don’t have to speculate anymore. I know for a fact that there are a number of enhancements that our development teams are working on, so these enhancements continue in preparation for the next XenApp release. Moving beyond just the next release of XenApp, we plan to continue to invest to enable delivery of Windows applications as a service.

I believe customers want uncomplicated, user-friendly products that simplify their lives. I know from experience that managing Desktop agent sprawl is a pain. Hence, later in 2009 App-V will be able to be plugged directly into the Citrix Receiver which will make things easier for our customers via the Receiver management framework. This will also enable more intelligent options, where via policy or connectivity one can determine the best place to determine application execution for a user, streamed or hosted. Certainly an area I am going to spend a lot of time thinking about. Additionally, Citrix Dazzle enables a new ‘Pull’ based interface that consumers are familiar with. Note, I don’t just say it’s a PNAgent replacement, I think it’s a lot more if you grasp the real value. This enables a whole new delivery model, and innovative ways for IT to reach and empower it’s customers that too often accuse IT of being slow and rigid. How much time is spent setting up user environments, getting inventory, reconciling and so on? By enabling user based self service, a whole new capability is available. Yes, Citrix will enable App-V to be delivered as a user self service via Dazzle, which I think will be cool, and combined with Merchandising Server, opens up the realm of the possible for delivering applications as a service. Extend these ideas out further into the Cloud and emerging license models, and I think enabling application delivery for the vast majority of applications that are Windows based to complement Desktop Virtualization is a huge deal.

In 2010 XenApp will have a connector to ConfigMgr. This means that you will be able to manage XenApp environments from the ConfigMgr console. We’ll blog more on specifics on what features of XenApp management we will expose as we evolve the capability and how,  but for now it’s reasonably safe to assume we will do things like publishing apps, advertise XenApp as collections etc.  The more important point right now is to understand that by leveraging XenApp, you will now be able to extend the reach of ConfigMgr to a more diverse set of platforms like Mac and Linux that may not be managed by ConfigMgr. Think of it as Citrix extending the depth of solutions that Microsoft is providing for our mutual customers.