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Citrix bulks up virtualization product line

The Xenification of Citrix continues as the company rebrands Presentation Server and adds to its virtualization product quiver.

Continuing its attempts to transform into a full service virtualization system provider, Citrix Systems Inc. next week will unveil new tools in its product portfolio as well as a new name for Presentation Server.

Shortly after the company releases its XenServer 4.1 server virtualization platform in mid-March, Citrix will roll out XenServer Platinum. The new Platinum bundle combines XenServer 4.1 Enterprise's server virtualization capabilities with the Citrix Provisioning Server for Data Centers so IT managers can provision images to virtual machines or physical desktops.

Mick Hollison, vice president of the Delivery Systems Division at Citrix
"What this means is that you can put any workload (a desktop, SAP or Oracle database) on any machine, virtual or physical, in real time," said Mick Hollison, vice president of the Delivery Systems Division at Citrix, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "You can have the minimal number of images for workloads, which minimizes the storage, maintenance, upgrades and patch management."

Provisioning Server was technology that Citrix acquired when it purchased Ardence Inc. more than two years ago. Provisioning Server lets multiple computers share the same disk image so only one image has to be maintained, patched, etc. by IT administrators. The old way, when a disk image is copied onto a second server, the cloned server quickly is changed by routine maintenance, said Brian Madden, an independent analyst based in Washington, D.C.

Another way to use the technology is if a server breaks down, a new server need only be pointed to the original disk image on the network. "The software will cut out a lot of [routine] management," Madden said.

XenServer Platinum will sell for $5,000 and will include unlimited virtual machine provisioning with licenses to provision three additional physical servers.

XenServer Platinum will be integrated and bundled with another new tool, called Workflow Studio, that will be out in late March. Workflow Studio is modeling software that helps IT managers graphically lay out an application environment with the click of a button.

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The graphical user interface lets IT managers set policies to create a workflow that, in turn, generates the scripting language to automate data center functions. The software will ship with several Workflow Templates, offering IT shops common use cases for workflows and the ability to customize common workflows. It is built on Microsoft's .NET Framework and Powershell.

Citrix will rebrand its familiar application virtualization and streaming product, Presentation Server, as XenApp. Last October, Citrix also rebranded its XenSource hypervisor, XenServer, as Citrix XenServer.

The company also sells a desktop virtualization product, XenDesktop, which the company plans to release in the second half of this year. It has developed an overarching brand identity, the Citrix Delivery Center, which it will use to refer to this family of software tools.

Although Citrix acquired XenSource Inc., a virtualization software maker in August, the company has always been closely associated with its Presentation Server thin client computing platform. It has a big job in educating IT managers and its sales channel that the company is more than thin client computing, which builds on Microsoft's Terminal Services and amounts to 70% of the company's market, said Mark Margevicius, an analyst at Gartner Inc.

"Many customers still don't know the company is involved in these new architectures," Margevicius said.

To that end, the company has a large-scale effort underway to educate its channel and broaden the range of products associated with Citrix. It is also growing its consulting services business and is increasing its activity with systems integrators that support large customers, Hollison said.

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