Citrix Systems Inc. recently disclosed plans for a bare-metal, Xen-based desktop hypervisor that will run on Intel desktop and laptop processors. The desktop hypervisor is part of Citrix's Project Independence, which aims to increase desktop virtualization users' independence -- i.e., de-emphasize the need for network connectivity -- while still offering centralized management and other benefits.
The Citrix desktop virtualization hypervisor lets an end user execute virtual machines locally, using the desktop or laptop's own processing power.
"It seems like the logical next step in desktop virtualization," said Shannon Snowden, an associate consulting partner with Citrix partner New Age Technologies Inc. in Louisville, Ky. "It's another tool in the virtualization tool belt to meet performance needs."
Check out this demo of the Citrix desktop virtualization hypervisor:
(Story continued below)
Traditional VDI relies on network connectivity, and performance can sometimes suffer -- particularly for users of high-powered, graphics-intensive applications. Those are the users most likely to benefit from the Citrix desktop virtualization hypervisor initially, Snowden said.
Francis Poeta, president of Citrix partner P and M Computers Inc. in Cliffside Park, N.J., agreed.
"It addresses a segment of the population that has not been addressed," he said.
The desktop hypervisor is the latest example of Citrix's commitment to desktop virtualization. By being the first virtualization vendor out of the gate with such a product, the company should see gains in the market, Poeta said.
"There was a real opportunity that was being missed from the standpoint of virtualization and what you can do with the machine power that's out there," he said. "There should be something built into [desktops and laptops] so you can fully utilize them."
But Snowden warned that Citrix's head start in desktop hypervisors is likely to be a brief one, because Intel also invests heavily in VMware.
Solutions providers -- not just Citrix partners, but those working with VMware and Microsoft as well -- have said 2009 will be a coming-out year for desktop virtualization. Some, like Snowden, said customers are specifically asking for the technology. Others, like Poeta, said customers just want technology that will help them stay afloat during the recession.
"Customers are not clamoring for any technologies, I don't care what anybody says," Poeta said. "They're clamoring for 'Help me survive.' … It's up to the channel to illustrate how virtualized desktops and [other] virtualized technologies can assist them."
Luckily for solutions providers, desktop virtualization sales and implementations can be much more profitable than server virtualization projects, simply because customer sites have far more desktops than servers.
"From a consultant's standpoint, we're seeing a lot of longer-term projects, and they're a lot more complex than server virtualization projects," he said. "The project scope's much bigger and, of course, the payoff's much bigger."
The Citrix desktop virtualization hypervisor will be available in the second half of this year, Citrix said. VMware also has plans for a desktop hypervisor later this year, but the company has yet to release details.