Citrix’s announcement of XenDesktop 5.5 is a welcome step in the evolution of desktop virtualization towards a more intelligent infrastructure, one that strives for an improved balance between user experience and IT control.  Three aspects of XenDesktop 5.5 stand out in particular – XenClient2, improvements to HDX and enhanced support for Microsoft infrastructure management technologies.


Intel and Citrix have long collaborated on the development of client hypervisor technologies for the enterprise.  Users with Intelligent Clients based on the 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ vPro™ processor family will benefit from the compelling visual experience delivered by XenClient2 based on optimizations for Intel® HD graphics.  IT departments that deploy XenClient2 will be able to offer users flexibility while retaining control based on the ability to define different control policies for personal and corporate environments with full access to the management and security capabilities of Core vPro processors.  In addition, improvements to the synchronization capabilities between XenDesktop and XenClient2 provide an important model for how to maintain images both at the endpoint and in the data center.


The many HDX improvements in XenDesktop 5.5 signify an important start in returning balance to VDI deployments.  Specifically, Adobe Flash re-direction and many other more detailed protocol improvements acknowledge that user experience can be enhanced by offloading computing to Intelligent Clients while centralizing image management.  We find this trend encouraging and look forward to broader media redirection and broader offloading to help improve the economics and user experience in VDI scenarios.


Last, but not least, enhanced support for Microsoft’s App-V and System Center that permits unified management of virtual and physical desktops is a crucial trend that IT decision makers will greatly appreciate.  Traditional desktop management of Intelligent Clients is well understood and has been continuously improved by Intel, based on the Active Management Technology capabilities of Intel® vPro™ platforms and management consoles, such as System Center Configuration Manager.  It has always been a challenge for IT departments interested in virtual desktops to deal with a different set of management consoles to get similar insight and control over those platforms.  The prospect that Intelligent Clients that are used with or without virtualization can now be managed from the same console should be a very welcome step.


While XenDesktop 5.5 and Intelligent Clients clearly offer important improvements for user experience and IT control, we look forward to working with Citrix to drive continued improvements to make desktop virtualization solutions increasingly intelligent by offloading compute to optimize the user experience and drive better infrastructure economics for IT.