With Dazzle, Citrix Unveils New Self-Service Model


The vendor used its Citrix Synergy 2009 end user conference, held this week in Las Vegas, to introduce the new additions to its product line to both its end users and solution provider partners.

One of the overriding themes of Citrix's new launch is the need to transform IT into a self-service operation, said Wes Wasson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Citrix.

Wasson said that consumerization of IT is causing businesses and their users to change their IT spending habits from a push model to a model in which they actively pull the services they want.

For instance, he cited Amazon, where users are looking to acquire storage capacity at 15 cents per Gbyte, per month, compared to handling their own storage at a cost of $4 per Gbyte, per month.

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"Look at iTunes," he said. "Everyone is now trained to self-select their music and organize it. Or DirectTV, which lets users organize hundreds of channels."

Citrix is responding with new tools to allow that self-service IT approach.

The first is Citrix Dazzle, a free tool that acts as a self-service "storefront" for enterprise applications, desktops and content, and lets consumers choose what they need when they need it.

For current customers of Citrix Delivery Center products like XenApp and XenDesktop, Dazzle sits in front of their existing delivery infrastructures and provides an intuitive user experience that requires no training, similar to how Apple iTunes works, Wasson said.

Dazzle lets users on any computer browse and search based on application name, description or type. They can also choose applications based on IT-defined categories, such as functional department or group name. The applications can be clicked or dragged to select, and then organized into user-defined "playlists," he said.

"When a user wants to use an application for which that business has an enterprise license, the user can just grab it and run it for free," he said. "Or, if there is no enterprise license, grabbing it kicks off a charge to the department or manager."

Dazzle can also send a message to a manager to authorize the use of applications, such as Visio and PhotoShop, that may not be available to all users, he said.

Dazzle is scheduled to be released in the second half of 2009.

Also new is Citrix Receiver, a lightweight software client that makes it easy to access virtual desktops and applications on any device. It allows IT organizations to deliver desktops and applications as an on-demand service to any device in any location, Wasson said.

It also improves the ability of Citrix to update applications by pushing out the changes using Citrix Receiver, Wasson said.

"If there is a new update to a XenApp, we can push it to all users with Citrix Receiver," he said. "IT just makes the change, and users automatically get it."

A version is available for the Apple iPhone, which lets standard enterprise applications work on the device, Wasson said. "For example, you can get a PowerPoint file on your iPhone, edit it, and send it off. It works with all existing XenApps. ... Any idea that Citrix looks like an older company gets blown away by this."

Citrix Receiver runs in the background listening for signals from the corporate delivery center for changes. Also, for employees looking to access their work environments from any location, they can go to a URL given to them by IT and download a Receiver for that device, giving the IT department control over security, performance and user experience.

Third-party developers can also use Citrix Receiver to ensure their applications run on any endpoint, as long as Receiver is installed, eliminating the need to build, test and support specific software clients for each type of device.

Citrix Receiver is free and available immediately for any Windows-based device. A version for the Apple iPhone is also available immediately as a free download from the Apple App Store. Versions for Macintosh OSX, Windows Mobile and Symbian are slated for the second half of 2009.

Citrix also officially renamed its Project Independence as Citrix XenClient to reflect the fact that the technology allows virtual servers and desktops to be run on any device, especially mobile devices, Wasson said.

Citrix XenClient, expected to be available in the second half of 2009, is a bare-metal Citrix Xen-based hypervisor optimized for Intel Virtualization technology and other features of Intel's vPro technology. It will allow virtual desktop images to be run locally instead of off the server.

On the networking side, Citrix on Tuesday unveiled NetScaler VPX, a virtual Xen-based version of its NetScaler MPX appliance for delivering Web applications in a massively parallel system.

NetScaler VPX runs on any Intel system to make it easier for any customer to have a Web-delivery appliance at branch or local offices, tied to a hardware NetScaler MPX appliance in a central location, Wasson said. For MSPs, NetScaler VPX also allows them to put a virtual appliance at customers' sites to help with their application-delivery requirements, he said.

The virtual appliance is probably also easier to sell than the physical appliance, Wasson said. "The typical Citrix channel partner is more familiar with software, and less with hardware," he said. "With NetScaler VPX, it's 10 times easier to sell the NetScaler architecture."