Citrix CTO Labana discusses virtualization adoption, XenDesktop 5.0

In a Q&A late last year, Citrix's former CTO Harry Labana discussed desktop virtualization adoption and the value of user personalization. He joined Appsense as CTO this week.

Harry Labana, chief technology officer, Citrix SystemsHarry Labana

As a former technology strategist at Goldman Sachs, Harry Labana has advised clients, bankers and analysts on trends and research opportunities in IT. As chief technology of Citrix's desktop and application virtualization division, he is one of the individuals charged with directing the course of the company. At Interop in New York, Labana also spoke about virtual desktop adoption and hinted that the upgrade to XenDesktop 5.0 is likely to be a whopper, thanks to a new Internal Management Architecture.

<< Read part one of this Q&  

Desktop virtualization adoption has been slow partly because of product immaturity. What do desktop technology providers need to do to convince IT shops that their products are ready for enterprise use?

Harry Labana: In terms of scale, performance and stability, we are pretty much there. It will never be 100%. We still have work to do in terms of multimedia and peripheral and last-mile use cases. Most people focus on control and administration, then stability and scale. The user experience continues to evolve. But the basics are there. Is personalization important? It depends on [how it's used]. Some people want super personalization. The questions depend on the economics. Getting better is important, but not as much as people think.

Describe this new Internal Management Architecture that will be a part of XenDesktop 5.0, which was introduced last month at Synergy in Berlin.

Labana: The whole architecture is a fundamental redesign of the plumbing. IMA was built for a certain scale. But the desktop scale has to be different. It's for mass scale, cloud adoption. We are slowly releasing details. You asked if personalization is important. People want stability and scale. Customers wanted to know if IMA was the future, and we decided it is not. Customers want to do 100,000 or 200,000 desktops, and IMA is not the right architecture for that.

Will XenApp also be retrofitted to this rebuilt IMA?

Labana: You can assume that will be the future plan. But let's get XenDesktop out. Eventually, it will come together, but I'm not sure when. We know XenApp has an established customer base. We know IMA is good enough. We have 100,000 on XenApp implementations. But when we go to cloud, we may want several hundred thousand users. For multi-tenancy and XenDesktop.

This will happen over the next two years or so. Bits of it will start to form as early as next year. We started the work a year ago. The question is, when do we productize and release it?

What can you say about the upgrade process for customers who will want to move to XenDesktop 5.0?

I'm not sure yet. I don't think there is a straightforward answer. Many customers won't bother to upgrade. A lot of people will have to rip and replace. The migration from XenDesktop 5.0 to 6.0 will be easy. But [from Version 4.0 to v5.0], there is no direct mapping. It's a completely different object model. We'll have migration and consulting help.

Will the Enterprise AppStore plug-in be something that customers can access via the Web, or must they be on the corporate network?

It's all of the above. Our general view is that people will be accessing multiple stores. They could be SaaS [Software as a Service], enterprise, Web stores, etc. The strategy is using this open cloud access, this single identity, to let you access multiple store types. This will evolve over the next few years as we build out this merchandising capability.

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