Citrix is introducing three new products to deliver applications more quickly and efficiently to branch offices and other remote locations.
All three fit into Citrix's overarching Deliver Centre architecture, which is the company's design for data centers based on its thin-client, WAN optimization and virtualization technologies. (Compare WAN optimization and application acceleration products.)
Together the products based on these technologies enable using traditional laptops and desktops or smaller desktop appliances to access applications hosted in a virtual environment.
The products include one piece of hardware, Citrix Branch Repeater, which locally delivers applications that would otherwise have to be accessed over the WAN. The other two products are Citrix App Receiver and Citrix Desktop Receiver, both software agents that reside on individual computers to streamline interactions with Delivery Centre services.
Branch Repeater was developed with Microsoft to publish streamed applications closer to branch office users. So if a branch user taps such an application, it is served up from the Repeater deployed in the branch rather than over the WAN. The device runs Windows Server as its operating system, so it includes services such as file services, print services, Active Directory and domain control.
The appliance also hosts Citrix WAN-optimization software compatible with its WANScaler devices to streamline the transmission of application images being published on the Repeaters. IT administrators can push applications needed in branch offices to the Repeaters via a central management console.
Branch Repeater comes in three models scaled to the size of the branch WAN connection and range in price from US$5,500 to $11,500.
This places another server in branches at a time when many businesses are centralizing servers to economize, but that may not be a problem for many businesses such as retailers with many branch stores, says Robin Gareiss, a senior vice president at Nemertes Research.
"We see about 56% of companies centralizing everything," Gareiss says. "But the balance keep some servers and functions out at the branch. So while the trend has been toward centralization, there are a lot of companies that want to keep some functions local."
Desktop Receiver is a desktop client that optimizes any device -- lightweight desktop appliance, laptop, full desktop -- for optimizing the access and display of XenDesktop virtual desktops. Virtual desktop images are stored centrally on Citrix's XenDesktop servers and are assembled and delivered on demand to remote machines.
App Receiver is aggregate client software that includes the Citrix ICA client that communicates with centralized applications, the WANScaler client and EasyCall click-to-call phone client. App Receiver also has APIs for plugging in third-party clients that will be announced later this year. App Receiver can support Windows or Web applications. It also can require different levels of authentication as well as encryption with the XenDesktop.
Citrix also is announcing support for other vendors' virtual machine controllers, specifically Microsoft's Hyper V and VMware's ESX. This means that Citrix virtual desktops and other applications can be stored on virtual machines by these other vendors.
In addition, the company has upgraded the options for acquiring XenDesktop. XenDesktop Express Edition is free and supports 10 desktops. Enterprise Edition includes XenApps software and costs $295 per user. Platinum Edition, at $395 per user, is based on Enterprise Edition and adds on-demand support with a click-to-call feature.
All editions of Citrix's XenServer, the virtualization software that supports multiple virtual servers on a single physical machine, now include dynamic provisioning software.