Citrix takes VDI personal with latest acquisition

Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)announced on Wednesday it has finalized the purchase of Mountain View, Calif.-based RingCube Technologies Inc., a vendor of personalization software for virtual desktop infrastructure.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Giving users the ability to set personal preferences on a virtual desktop housed in a data centre “really feels like the desktop is theirs (as much as) a physical desktop,” said John Fanelli, vice-president of product marketing for Citrix’s enterprise desktops and applications division. “(And) IT really likes the idea of VDI” for the control, maintenance, management and security advantages.

There are two models of VDI, according to Fanelli. Dedicated VDI effectively stores each desktop as its own virtual machine image, while pooled VDI, often used in call centres, shares a single desktop image among all desktops.

Dedicated VDI is much more expensive to implement and manage, since each image contains its own operating system and applications. But while pooled VDI is cheaper, users also get a fresh screen every time they log on; their preferences, files and applications aren’t stored.

RingCube’s technology allows an enterprise to use a single, pooled disk image, but consult a preference profile called a vDisk to recall preferences, data and applications on the desktop. The information is stored in Microsoft Corp.’s VHD format.

“This technology really simplifies the move from physical to virtual,” Fanelli said.

He called the technology “complementary” to Citrix’s existing universal profile manager.

“This is technology and capability that (arch-rival VMware Inc. doesn’t) have,” Fanelli said.

David Senf, director of the infrastructure solutions group with Toronto-based IDC Canada Ltd., said while Canadian companies are “bullish” on VDI, “deployments have lagged interest.”

“RingCube addresses one of the sticking points slowing VDI, storage costs,” Senf wrote in an e-mail interview. “Nothing comes for free in this world, though, and there is a new load placed on server processing at runtime (with) this sort of solution. A tradeoff of storage capacity for server costs, however, is a reasonable one.”

According to Senf, 24 per cent of Canadian organizations have deployed some desktops in a VDI environment, and another 23 per cent are planning to deploy some VDI in the next 12 months. While some companies have come to VDI for cost savings, it’s not as cut-and-dried as server virtualization return on investment, he said.

“I don’t believe that many firms have taken the time to determine which employees VDI is best suited for,” he wrote. “It has obvious security and management benefits applicable to finance and to health care.

Financial terms of the deal were not announced. Fanelli said RingCube staff would report to the enterprise desktops and applications team under general manager Bob Schultz. Fanelli also would not discuss if RingCube technology will be bundled with XenDesktop or licensed separately.

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
A journalist of 20 years experience in newspapers and magazines. He has followed technology exclusively since 1998 and was the winner of the Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in the eEconomy category in 2000. (The category was eliminated in 2001, leaving Webb as the only winner ever.) He has held senior editorial positions with publications including Computing Canada, eBusiness Journal, InfoSystems Executive, Canadian Smart Living and Network World. He is currently the editor of ComputerWorld Canada and the IT World Canada newswire.

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