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Applications & OS News

VMware, Citrix Expand Virtual Desktop Technology

Joseph F. Kovar

VMware introduced a new version of an application that allows customers to run multiple versions of nearly any application on nearly any Windows operating system without disruption.

And Citrix has added intelligent policy controls to its XenDesktop desktop PC virtualization application.

The move by the two vendors comes at a time when desktop PC virtualization is taking off in the wake of the boom in the server virtualization market.

VMware, of Palo Alto, Calif., this week said it plans to launch VMware ThinApp 4, the latest version of its technology that virtualizes applications for use by virtual and physical desktop PC users, said Ed Albanese, senior product manager for application virtualization at the vendor.

ThinApp 4 is based on technology VMware got with the acquisition in January of Thinstall, a San Francisco-based developer of application virtualization technology.

The ThinApp technology adds a new layer to virtualize an application from the operating system, Albanese said.

"It virtualizes the registry, file system, and services, and turns them into an encapsulated, mobile file," he said. "Customers can package an application as a single file that can be deployed to a Citrix Server or to Terminal Services, or to a PC or a virtual desktop or a USB key."

The most important part of the ThinApp technology is that it is agentless, which means that customers do not need to install a driver or any other software to run the application, Albanese said.

Customers can also plug such applications into their PC-Config solutions from a wide number of vendors. "About 94 percent of customers have PC-Config solutions installed," he said. "Our technology works with any PC-Config environment to let customers get the full set of features."

Application virtualization is handy for customers who need to package applications for multiple environments, such as for Windows and Terminal Services, or when each department in a company has different system images, Albanese said.

"Our technology allows them to package one application that works in each environment without breaking it," he said. "It dramatically cuts the cost of deploying test applications."

New with ThinApp 4 is Application Link, which lets customers decouple the virtual application and allows multiple applications to work with each other.

For instance, Albanese said, a customer can virtualize .Net, virtualize a .Net application, deploy it, and then a week later virtualize another .Net application which can use the same resources as the first. It works with several environments such as .Net, Java, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Office, he said.

Also new with ThinApp 4 is Application Sync, which allows companies which deploy virtualized applications to a user to also easily update those applications.

Without Application Sync, if a minor change is made to an application, it must be repackaged and sent to each instance, Albanese said. With Application Sync, every time an application is run, it checks online to see if there are any updates and, if so, handles the updates automatically, he said.

Citrix Systems, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., this week unveiled a new release of its Citrix Access Gateway to provide scalable secure access to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments.

The new release of the Citrix Access Gateway appliance now integrates with Citrix XenDesktop, said Sanjay Uppal, vice president of product marketing for the company's Application Networking Group.

Citrix Access Gateway is an SSL VPN which provides policy-driven secure access to ensure that users can access their virtual desktop PC image and specific virtualized applications regardless of whether the users are at the office or in remote locations, Uppal said.

The new Citrix Access Gateway 8.1 release provides policies that specify which applications are not available in specific cases, such as when the user is working from a public kiosk, in order to improve corporate security, said Sai Allavarpu, senior director of product marketing for the company's Application Networking Group.

The new version also scales to thousands of XenDesktop users regardless of where they are located, and has wizards to simplify and accelerate deployment in a virtual desktop environment by automating several commonly performed XenDesktop configuration tasks., Uppal said.

Citrix Access Gateway 8.1 is now available. Its license costs are included in the company's XenDesktop application at no extra charge. The server appliance which runs Citrix Access Gateway is priced starting at $3,500.

Joseph F. Kovar

Joseph F. Kovar is a senior editor and reporter for the storage and the non-tech-focused channel beats for CRN. He keeps readers abreast of the latest issues related to such areas as data life-cycle, business continuity and disaster recovery, and data centers, along with related services and software, while highlighting some of the key trends that impact the IT channel overall. He can be reached at jkovar@thechannelcompany.com.

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