Citrix Jumps Into Converged Infrastructure, Debuts WorkspacePod For Partners

Citrix Systems on Tuesday unveiled what it calls an "ultra-converged" solution to deliver applications, desktops and data in a channel-friendly package.

At the Citrix Summit partner conference in Las Vegas, CEO Mark Templeton showcased two versions of a WorkspacePod, pre-configured server boxes built from Citrix-certified infrastructure and running the Citrix virtualization stack.

The WorkspacePods come in two configurations—an economy version built by DataON and a higher-end solution from HP—and achieve breakthroughs in price, performance and power-consumption, Templeton told some 4,000 partners attending the conference from around the world.

"We haven't been serving the VDI market the way the opportunity suggests we can and should. To do that we needed some additional capabilities," Templeton told partners.

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[Related: Citrix Acquires Storage Vendor Sanbolic To Beat Back VMware's Virtual Desktop Blitz]

One of those capabilities was a top-flight software-defined storage technology. That box was checked with the acquisition of Sanbolic, announced Monday, which provides a vendor-agnostic solution of fast, non-blocking read/write to storage and high-end data services.

Because WorkspacePods are pre-integrated and pre-engineered, they are excellent solutions for channel partners to go install for customers. They are scalable for quick deployment of hundreds of servers that can process terabytes of data, and their converged architecture means far fewer connections and cables. IT departments love having a complete system contained in a single part number, Templeton said.

NEXT: Citrix Features HP Technology In New Offering

The version integrating Citrix workspace software and Sanbolic's virtual storage with HP's Moonshot platform offers an unparalleled combination of high-end graphics and low power-consumption at its price-point, Tom Bradicich, VP of engineering at HP enterprise, told the audience after joining Templeton on stage.

The HP version comes with a ProLiant SL4540 server using 1 watt of power per user. It offers 40 GB switching between compute and storage, N+1 redundancy, and an Intel E3 chip that integrates the CPU and GPU.

Users can run a cartridge as bare-metal for a single dedicated user, load a hypervisor and put 15 VDI users on a single cartridge, or use the XenApp architecture to get 40 users on a single cartridge. With 45 cartridges in the box Templeton brought on stage, the HP version can run 675 VDI users, or 2,250 XenApp session.

A single enclosure of the DataON version, at a more-affordable price, can power 150 XenDesktop VDI users, or 750 XenApp sessions.

Bradicich explained the term "hyper-converged" refers to integrating CPU, networking, storage and graphics through the GPU. "Ultra-converged" adds application acceleration "so it can help in fine-tuning to the workload in hand," he said.

"The graphical nature of applications and data is growing and will continue to grow more and more," Bradicich said.

WorkspacePods will first be rolled out through a white-glove program through a small set of selected partners for a 90-day period. In the second quarter, the technology will be made generally available to the Citrix partner community, said Tyrone Pike, Citrix' VP of market development.

Citrix executives told CRN they expect to see the product later expanded to a wider range of hardware vendors.

Andy Malivuk, VP of Vology, a Platinum tier Citrix partner based in Florida, said Vology "is passionate about introducing customers to the most advanced technologies so they can build forward-thinking roadmaps for their businesses."

Citrix's dedication to software-defined solutions, specifically the partnership with HP to bring the WorkspacePods to market, aligns well with the company's focus as a HP Platinum partner, he said.

"We have seen good momentum with the hyper-converged solutions from Nutanix and Simplivity. We are positioned well to take advantage of this new offering," Malivuk told CRN.