At the beginning of the year, I blogged about how 2010 would be the defining year for the virtual desktop revolution - through huge advancements in simplicity, ROI, flexibility and manageability. Today, Microsoft and Citrix joined forces to make some groundbreaking announcements that will put virtual desktop adoption on the fast track!

The announcements cover the deepening of our unique partnership with Microsoft, our integrated desktop virtualization solutions, and very compelling joint offers for all of our customers. As IT organizations plan their desktop strategy, it gives them a lot of confidence to know that two industry leaders are partnering to deliver the best and most comprehensive solution to simplify virtual desktops.

What was announced today:
Simple, flexible, and no-charge VECD licensing. Big change. Customers with Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) will get Windows licensing for VDI at no additional cost
Attractive joint offers to get started with VDI now. If the cost of VDI was holding you back, here are 2 limited-time, promotions from Citrix and Microsoft to “kick-start” your VDI deployment. If you have a failed VMware VDI deployment, we have a “jump-start” solution for you!
XenDesktop delivers even better value, simplicity and user experience. Citrix is once again raising the bar with XenDesktop 4 Feature Pack 1 – delivering a broad range of new features as well as tighter integration with Microsoft virtualization products
New integrated user experience enhancements on the horizon. A new joint collaboration agreement provides the foundation for Citrix HDX to leverage the upcoming Microsoft RemoteFX (formerly known as Calista) platform technology.



 Lowering the Barriers to Adoption

You asked for it – “Simpler VECD licensing at a lower cost”. It’s here now and it’s not only simpler and flexible, it’s free.

I believe one of the biggest changes in the world of desktop virtualization is that Windows licensing for VDI is now free for Microsoft SA customers. With Microsoft SA, you have access to virtual desktop licensing and Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, making it that much easier to implement XenDesktop on this platform. What’s more, Microsoft have also provided “roaming” rights – meaning that the primary user of a virtual desktop can go to any device to access their virtual desktop. (For those of you that are new to VDI/VECD licensing, previously you had to have Microsoft SA and add a “VECD” annual subscription license for every device accessing virtual desktops, even if it was one user on multiple devices.) This is a great announcement by Microsoft, and it paves the way to accelerate mainstream adoption of desktop virtualization and Citrix XenDesktop.

In addition, Citrix and Microsoft have put together two attractive promotions that are going to make it easy and cost-effective for everyone to start their VDI deployments. (See Sumit Dhawan’s blog for more details on the promotions.)

The first is called the “VDI Kick Start” promotion. The VDI Kick Start promotion gives Microsoft customers with Select or Enterprise Agreements the opportunity to save more than 50% on a VDI solution. This offer is available through June 30, 2010, so ask your Microsoft and Citrix reps for more information to get your projects rolling right away.

The second promotion is a terrific opportunity help out all those customers that have been struggling to get their VMware View implementations working. We frequently hear about failed VMware VDI deployments and I have met several customers who evaluated the product in the lab and found that its performance did not meet user expectations – stalling the roll out. For all these customers, we have the new “Rescue for VMware VDI” promotion! Customers can replace their VMware View or VDM licenses with Citrix XenDesktop VDI Edition and Microsoft VDI Suite for FREE – and “jump-start” their VDI deployment to be up and running like they had planned. (No jumper cables required.)

With a revolutionary change in VECD licensing and such attractive promotions, there is no better time to start your VDI deployment than now.

Technology Integration Today…

Citrix announced XenDesktop 4 Feature Pack 1, to be released later this month. This is a significant feature update that incorporates all the power of the recently announced XenApp 6. This release delivers tight integration between Citrix virtualization products and Microsoft’s virtualization and management platform to fully leverage Microsoft infrastructure. With this release, IT can publish Microsoft App-V application packages through XenApp and enable users to self-service on-demand delivery of apps via Citrix Dazzle. In addition, to simplify management and administration, AppCenter – the single management console for managing the entire XenApp application delivery infrastructure is integrated with Microsoft management tools. Finally, the release also provides several user experience enhancements, including up to 5X faster logons. (Calvin gives more in-depth information on XenDesktop 4 Feature Pack 1 here)

… And Further Collaboration for the Future

Microsoft and Citrix also announced a joint collaboration agreement around Microsoft’s new platform technology called RemoteFX. RemoteFX enables users with virtual or session-based desktops on a server to leverage hardware-based acceleration for delivering a rich experience for graphics, 3D apps and multi-media. It’s built on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Hyper-V and Remote Desktop Services platforms – which means that it will work for multiple Citrix FlexCast delivery models, including hosted shared desktops, VDI and hosted applications.

Through the joint collaboration agreement, Microsoft and Citrix will work together on enabling Citrix HDX technology to extend the capabilities of the RemoteFX platform. We’ll have access to the APIs and other resources we need to enable this integration within six months of the general availability of RemoteFX. Specifically, XenDesktop will include a new technology called “HDX Rich Graphics with RemoteFX,” which will provide the ability to:
• Dynamically detect RemoteFX-capable servers and endpoints and leverage the hardware acceleration to deliver graphics-intensive, media-rich or 3D applications to XenDesktop users. This will ensure that customers are able to best leverage their infrastructure investments and deliver the most optimal experience to users.
• Enable RemoteFX to extend beyond the LAN to deliver desktops and applications to a broader range of endpoints, networks and use cases.

You can see Microsoft’s blog on RemoteFX here.

I would like you to learn more about these joint offers and solutions. For more information, visit http://www.citrixandmicrosoft.com/. Even better, join us at the Microsoft and Citrix 100-city global road show coming soon to a city near you. Register at http://www.citrix.com/roadshow

I started the year with “What to Expect in Desktop Virtualization in 2010?” It’s only March, and things are looking pretty good for the year.

Raj Dhingra

GM, XenDesktop.