Citrix, Intel collaborate on desktop virtualization

Citrix Systems Inc. and Intel Corp. announced today a joint collaboration agreement that will see the new partners working to bring Xen-based client virtualization to enterprise customers.

“We’re delivering a complete solution around virtualizing on the client that will allow local execution and central image management,” said Louis Shipley, group vice-president and general manager of the XenServer product group.

Citrix will be optimizing its application and desktop virtualization solutions for Intel’s Core 2 and Centrino 2 laptops with Intel vPro technology, allowing mobile users to benefit from secure, user-friendly virtualization on the go. The new products will ship in the latter half of this year.

A bare-metal Xen-based desktop hypervisor primed on vPro’s virtualization technology will be up for grabs by PC manufacturers and enterprises.

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THE DEMO: Citrix XenDesktop

“The change on the client device is not going to happen overnight, but with announcements like this one, it will help expedite the benefits of virtualization out to the end point,” said Mark Bowker, analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc.

IT managers will then be able to stream a centrally managed corporate desktop onto a secure, isolated client-based virtual machine, according to Citrix. Desktops and applications will be executed right at the client level, which should cut down on mobile device licensing costs.

“The combination of Citrix’s virtualization expertise and the Intel vPro chipset are setting the stage for how business can change the face of desktop computing by reducing and even eliminating operational and capital expenses associated with traditional the traditional desktop operating environment,” according to Bowker.

“One of the things that has kept virtualization from widespread adoption is support for mobile, local execution, and that user experience,” said Gregory Bryant, vice-president of Intel’s business client group.

The security boost should also lure in buyers. “(The usual hypervisors) aren’t suitable for corporate images because they are not secure. If it runs on a host machine that isn’t trusted, it can snoop what other virtual machines are doing and arbitrarily corrupt things and steal data even,” said Ian Pratt, Xen co-founder and architect. “We need to bring what the Xen hypervisor can do on a server to client devices—to bring hypervisors to all those platforms, laptops, desktops and get virtualization ubiquitous to all those machines.”

Users will also be able to keep business and home projects separate by running different virtual machines. This will become more of a priority, according to Bryant, as the legions of teleworkers and contract workers grow.

And if the device is stolen (as they often are)? The virtual machine won’t exist on the device, keeping corporate information safer.

With the new collaboration, IT managers will be able to centrally administer more easily. “It will enable administrators to create and distribute out to client devices, and then communicate with them to pull back and synchronize with the server,” Pratt said. Custom-made application packages can be beamed out virtually to users as well.

“The increasing numbers of clients and applications make desktop management a daunting task for IT staffs,” said Bowker. “Countless dollars are being spent to support these environments and many businesses are finding themselves at risk of negatively impacting user productivity and placing the business as risk from a security and compliance perspective. There is agreement that apply the benefits of virtualization to the client side of the business will help curtail the management challenges.”

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