Earlier today (March 1st, 2010), we announced the launch of Branch Repeater VPXand Access Gateway VPX. Back in the spring of 2009, at Synergy, Citrix announced the vision and strategy to virtualize our entire application networking portfolio. We followed up on that promise by delivering NetScaler VPX in September 2009, and now by delivering software virtual appliances for our networking appliances, Branch Repeater and Access Gateway.

Since the spring of 2009, I met with many customers, analysts and partners and saw a recurring theme emerging from those meetings. Many customers have already seen the benefits of virtualization in the data center, especially for servers. Having extended those benefits to desktops by pursuing desktop virtualization, they are now looking for ways to make the delivery network and branch infrastructure simple, flexible, agile and cost-effective. Check out the Access Gateway VPX demo on CitrixTV at http://www.citrix.com/tv/#videos/1706 or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOVj3-xT4S8.

Initial feedback from customers indicates that VPX offers a great opportunity to tackle the cost, complexity and service delays in branch offices. Consider this: with hardware appliances, enterprises are required to procure hardware appliances, wait a few days for the delivery and ship them to hundreds of branch offices or sites. It gets worse when there are branch offices without skilled or any IT staff; IT has to fly in staff to such sites to deploy WAN optimization services. Together all these factors contribute to costly and time-consuming branch set up. VPX transforms the entire branch set up process, not to mention the management of WAN optimization in the branch. No more appliance ordering and procurement, shipment to branch offices, flying in IT staff to branches. One could even remotely distribute, configure and deploy Branch Repeater VPX on existing servers in the branch, with skilled IT staff never setting a foot in that branch!

Another example was that of recent snowstorms or natural disasters, when many workers work from home and overwhelm SSL VPN licenses or capacity. This is precisely when ordering or shipping additional hardware appliances is not going to be effective. Access Gateway VPX can help with such situations by dynamically provisioning additional virtual appliances on existing servers to meet the surge in remote user demand.

While we often tend to focus on the benefits of IT simplicity and agility, there is another customer benefit that often doesn’t get as much attention. The procurement and supply chain groups think VPX enables them to consolidate hardware vendors, benefit from volume discounts and streamline supply chain and procurement processes. Many customers need to address the availability of parts and supplies in the remotest of the branch offices on any continent. Who is more likely to have a sales or parts office in such locations? Server vendors such as HP or Dell, or pure-play SSL VPN or WAN optimization vendors?

Do you share similar experiences and opportunities? What other use cases and opportunities do you see for VPX in your environment?

Later, in a follow-on blog, I will share the insights that some of the partners shared – something that makes me truly believe that VPX will transform channel productivity and profitability, spurring partners to pause and think about vendor alignments.

You will also see a series of blogs from the Branch Repeater and Access Gateway teams 

Stay tuned, for these are the exciting times in the world of convergence of virtualization and networking.

Sai Allavarpu