Citrix: Virtual desktops set to go mainstream

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Citrix is looking to push virtualised desktops to the masses, unveiling a new certification system and additions to its client receiver technology.

At a press event in Budapest, head of desktop Raj Dhingra unveiled the new Citrix Ready Open Virtualisation programme, which has certified Xen Desktop 4 for 100,000 devices, so businesses and users know which devices will integrate smoothly into the system right out of the box - hopefully making deployment that much easier.

The list includes server products as well as client devices from all the big name manufacturers, including Apple, Dell and RIM, as well as security suites and other software systems.

"[It's] taking advantage of more than 200 vendors that have basically certified themselves to wrok with Xen Desktop," he explained, adding that it's "very strong evidence that when it comes to eco system of virtual desktop, many vendors will support Xen Desktop."

He also said the Citrix Receiver which brings virtual applications to different client devices including the iPhone would be made available for Macs, BlackBerrys and Android devices by mid-December.

Going mainstream

Dhingra said it was all part of a push to get more companies to use virtualisation on their desktops. At the moment, according to a displayed graph using Gartner numbers, virtualisation features on some 15 per cent of desktops and will hit 60 per cent by 2012.

He said there will be a few driving forces, including the recent launch of Citrix's own Xen Desktop 4 and rival VMware's recently unveiled View 4.

Dhingra suggested Windows would drive takeup. "Windows 7 is starting to get on the agenda of every major company," he noted, suggesting as companies migrate,they might look to a different model.

He also claimed that using virtual desktops makes migration itself easier, claiming switching to a new OS is simple. Just point users' profiles to a new group, and you could be "up and running with Windows 7 10 minutes later" with no changes to applications or data.

Another potential driver is the consumerisation of IT. "Three to four years from now the way we interact with our desktops will be completely different," he claimed. "One of the biggest changes in the industry that's going to be seen in IT over the next 10 years is consumerisation of IT."

Desktop virtualisation would let such consumer devices be brought into enterprise more easily, he said, letting business apps and systems be accessed over the network without having to configure each and every different machine - also handy for working from home with a personal computer.

"Your endpoint is not your strategic asset," he added.

Server takeup

While server virtualisation has been a big topic for years, it has yet to takeover the server market.

Still, Dhingra sees more potential in the desktop market, noting there are 35 million servers and 600 million PCs and laptops. "That is a far far bigger number," he noted. "Industry analysts, they think desktop virtualisation could be a much more significant opportunity."

"We really think it's going to be one of the hottest technologies for 2010," Dhingra claimed.