Today, Citrix is announcing the immediate availability of XenDesktop 5.5!

Among the the headlines are: New Personal Desktops for VDI, leveraging the recent RingCube acquisition and its personal vDisk technology; breakthrough WAN support; XenApp 6.5 with turbo-charged app access with session prelaunch; and a production-ready synchronizer and the new massive HCL for XenClient 2. Beyond these headlines, however, Citrix has spent more than two years and thousands of engineering man hours building on the industry’s leading desktop virtualization platform to deliver over 150 new HDX features and enhancements to optimize enterprise desktop and app delivery and user experence for the private cloud.

Over the next few weeks, those of you who are following the desktop virtualization space are about to be bombarded with new information about protocols and technologies to deliver desktops over private and public networks. You will hear a lot about bandwidth and latency, and a lot of discussion about server density, quality of service and user experience.  Underneath all these features, however, is pretty simple set of principles:

Processing graphics and multimedia in a datacenter is more expensive than processing “in the wild.”

Datacenters are fantastic places to keep data and centralize configuration. The concept of hosting desktops and apps in a datacenter is made popular simply because the control and protection an enterprise gets from its datacenters is well understood. However, doing work in a datacenter always comes at a cost. You have to power it, then you have to cool it, and then to drive labor efficiency and management control,  hardware and software features are added to a server beyond any consumer device.

Today’s consumer computing devices and, on the other hand, are not designed to keep and protect data, aren’t secure by nature, but can pack a ton of processing power, and much of the time, someone else is powering and cooling them. So while maintaining data, apps and desktops in the datacenter delivers the security and flexibility desired out of a private cloud, Citrix HDX technologies take advantage of processing power on the client whenever possible to render graphics or video, compress and optimize video and audio. These workloads are critical for offloading because they are by nature processor intensive. a few hundred users can easily share modern servers with most applications, but as soon as 10 or 20 users start a video or fire up a webcam, they could consume all the available resources themselves making resource planning and allocation extremely difficult (and expensive). As devices from smartphones to tablets to thin clients continue to get more powerful, offloading processing whenever possible just makes sense.

Build a pipe, and traffic will come.

Today’s internet has grown exponentially driven by the some combination of the chicken and the egg. As capacity has grown, developers dream up new ways of using it, and as users experience the value of cloud apps, they wish they had more bandwidth available at any time. Today, a single application, Netflix, accounts for nearly a quarter of North American Internet bandwidth use. The more pipe you have, the more traffic there is to compete for resources. This trend not only drives the consumerization of IT, but also presents new challenges to enterprises building the private cloud.

HDX technologies are built on the principal that there will never be enough bandwidth. So while conversations about protocols tend to center around lowering bandwidth consumption (and rightly so) the bigger trick is doing the best with the bandwidth you have. The ICA protocol, one most mature of the HDX technologies, has undergone a transformation of its own into what is now called multistream ICA, as it separates what was once a bunch of virtual channels in one stream to five physical streams with the ability to use standard QoS networking tools to assign priority over different types of virtual desktop traffic giving network administrators the tools they need to manage service levels and get more users, apps, and data on any network.

Don’t assume you control the last mile.

The idea of powering up a branch office with virtual desktops over a leased line with a known set of users and a known set of apps is a nice deployment to design for. That isn’t, however, what is driving the next wave of desktop transformation. Employees want to work from anywhere, with any device over networks that you may or may not have any control over. Even the Wifi network in a corporate office has no guarantee of service level.

To optimize for private clouds, Citrix HDX technologies must be able to traverse any network leveraging the full TCP-IP stack to take advantage of WAN optimization technologies when available. Because a private cloud has to service so many dynamic connections and device capabilities, HDX must be able to self-tune its use of the network to deliver an acceptable user experience in even the worst conditions – and, in all cases, the desktop administrator needs the tools to quickly analyze and troubleshoot user experience issues.

For more information:

XenDesktop 5.5 What’s New DOWNLOAD (Requires Customer Login)

XenApp 6.5 What’s New

XenClient 2 What’s New

Must Reads:

  • For more technical information about HDX, check out Derek Thorsland’s blog
  • To learn more about Personal Desktops, and how XenDesktop 5.5 redfines the “Pooled vs. Dedicated VDI dillema” check out Ken Bell’s blog or this quick 2 minute video
  • To hear more about Citrix Receiver, and how it enables high performance desktops and apps on over a billion devices, check out Arun’s blog here
  • To learn more about XenApp 6.5 and it’s exciting “Session PreLaunch” feature that gets users to their apps in record time, Check out Matt Crawford’s blog
  • To learn more about XenClient 2, and the Production-scale XenClient Synchronizer, included in XenDesktop 5.5, check out Peter Blum’s Blog