In the second part of this blog series, we discussed the PC image management problem. In the last part of the series, we will examine how XenClient Enterprise addresses this issue.

Looking back, Virtual Computer started with a management system and broad hardware support in mind. This enabled their solution to run on a wide range of desktop and laptop endpoints, a key requirement for the broad distribution required to solve the PC image management problem. Initially this compromised on the fidelity of user experience, however there was a roadmap to improve performance and enhance security once a broad footprint was established in the market.

Virtual Computer had a rich set of management functionality designed to help enterprise customers manage large fleets of corporate laptops and desktops across a distributed enterprise. This strategy complemented the original XenClient strategy of innovating in the hypervisor to leverage bleeding edge hardware and meet the performance needs of early adopters of client virtualization. The Virtual Computer solution (which shall now be referred to as XenClient Enterprise) combines a client hypervisor with a scalable management server that can synchronize the client OS image in layers. This means that PC images can be continually synchronized between the client device and enterprise datacenter as shown in the diagram below.

XenClient Enterprise conceptual architecture.

Figure 1: XenClient Enterprise conceptual architecture.

XenClient Enterprise synchronizes a base OS image with additional personalized apps delivered through application virtualization (e.g. MS App-V or XenApp streamed apps).   User data is stored in a separate layer that is synchronized to the backup store to facilitate DR scenarios.

The following diagram summarizes the customer use cases enabled by the current XenClient solution.

Figure 2: Summary of key XenClient use cases.

XenClient was originally built to deliver a high-fidelity experience with strengths in providing a native-like experience and high security. In contrast, Virtual Computer built a solution targeted at PC image management with broad hardware compatibility and a real-time synchronizer on the back-end that delivered a layered PC image.

Integration of the original XenClient and Virtual Computer products has enabled a client virtualization market for Citrix built around XenClient Express, Enterprise and XT editions. This provides a client virtualization platform that delivers both high performance/security and broad hardware compatibility to support the required customer use cases today.

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