Citrix aims to dazzle with self-service portal, iPhone client

At Synergy, Citrix announced Citrix Dazzle and Receiver, and also demoed XenClient, the bare metal client hypervisor code-named "Project Independence."

Citrix Systems, known for delivering enterprise applications and desktops to business users, is now taking cues from the consumer sector, incorporating self-service IT concepts into its line-up and bolstering support for the Apple iPhone.

The first product borne of this new philosophy is Citrix Dazzle, which the company compared to Apple's App Store or DirectTV's show catalog, and provides users a view in to all the applications inside the Citrix XenApp catalog.

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With Dazzle, users subscribe to applications on an as-needed basis, instead of relying on IT to provide them up front. Dazzle will also integrate with an enterprise's Active Directory to ensure users don't gain access to applications they aren't allowed to use, said Wes Wasson, chief marketing officer for Citrix.

Still, among some of the highly regulated and conservative companies that make up Citrix's XenApp customer base, talk of self-service IT rings hollow. At Bay Industries, Inc., a manufacturer of insulation supplies in Wisconsin, end users don't bother asking IT for more control of their desktops, said Greg Hirte, IS manager and Citrix XenApp customer. "I don't really feel that pain," he said. "We're rather conservative. This is what you get, and don't bother asking for anything different."

Hirte, who uses XenApp 4.0 to deliver full desktops to 290 users, is however planning to upgrade to XenApp 5 in the coming months, and will also use Citrix XenServer to virtualize servers and gain better availability.

Citrix is betting that users "bred on iTunes and DirectTV" will force change, putting them at-odds with old notions of centrally managed IT. "The consumerization of enterprise IT is happening," Wasson said.

Citrix Dazzle, to be unveiled and demonstrated this week at Citrix Synergy in Las Vegas, will be free and available in the second half of 2009.

Zeus Kerravala, senior vice president of global enterprise research at Yankee Group, agreed that the world is moving to a self-service model, and that IT departments are at a crossroads. "IT used to know everything about every corporate app, but that's just not true anymore," he said, pointing to the widespread corporate use of applications like Facebook, Twitter and Gmail. But while IT managers might struggle with this "cultural shift," they should embrace the change rather than fight it. "All the fighting is going to be a losing battle," he said.

A new client

At Synergy, Citrix will also introduce new client software called Citrix Receiver for PCs, Macs and iPhones. Receiver uses HDX, a superset of its ICA protocol enhanced for multimedia, and is auto-updating, for simplified management, the company reports. When it comes to the iPhone version, Citrix has taken pains to make it comply with the device's unique interface features such as pinch and glide. Wasson said Citrix enterprise application partners like SAP and Hyperion are really excited about Receiver for the iPhone since it frees them from writing native iPhone versions of their software.

All versions of the Receiver are free and available now; the iPhone version will be available from the Apple App Store under Business Applications.

The combination of Citrix Dazzle and Receiver might be what it takes to get administrators to use XenApp more, said Shannon Snowden, a consulting partner at New Age Technologies, a professional services provider in Louisville, Ken.

"XenApp is kind of underutilized to a large degree; it's more of a niche product," Snowden said. By making it easier for end users to subscribe to XenApp applications, Dazzle and Receiver might push administrators to use it with a greater variety of applications. The idea is to "get stuff off the end points as much as you can," so you can benefit from tighter control and easier patching, Snowden said.

Project Independence debuts

Also at the show, Citrix will conduct the first public demonstration of XenClient, a bare-metal client hypervisor also known as "Project Independence." With it, end users will be able to boot up into multiple operating environments simultaneously, regardless of whether they are connected to the network. XenClient becomes generally available in the second half of this year.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Alex Barrett, News Director.

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