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Citrix expected to tackle mobile application delivery, VDI costs

As Citrix Synergy 2013 kicks off in Anaheim, attendees hope to learn about new desktop and application delivery strategies for the mobile world.

In theory, the line between desktop virtualization and enterprise mobility has blurred. But in practice, most of the products that deliver those technologies are still separate -- and those that do combine the two are still in the early stages.

Attendees at this week's Citrix Synergy 2013 conference in Anaheim, Calif. expect to learn more about bridging this gap and delivering applications in a world where the PC is no longer the only enterprise endpoint.

Maybe this desktop virtualization thing won't ever ignite and catch fire like people thought it would.

Andy Jones, senior VP of sales, MCPc

Citrix Systems Inc. has built upon its application and desktop virtualization roots in the past few years, developing CloudGateway for mobile application management and acquiring mobile device management vendor Zenprise. Those two products are now part of Citrix's Mobile Solutions Bundle, which, along with XenApp and XenDesktop, offer more ways to deliver applications to endpoints than ever before.

"It would appear that even Citrix is starting to think about what the world looks like in a post-desktop way," said Andy Jones, senior vice president of sales for MCPc, a Citrix partner in Cleveland.

The key to navigating this new landscape is to focus on the needs of IT and end users, said Adam Bari, managing director at IPM, an IT consulting firm and Citrix partner based in New York.

"I try not to get too stuck on specs," Bari said. "I try to paint a full picture."

VDI's role as mobile application delivery takes hold

Despite the proliferation of application delivery options, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) still has a role in enterprise IT. VDI will also be a hot topic at Synergy, as organizations continue to struggle with the challenges it presents.

For Gartner Inc.'s clients, 40% to 60% of the costs of a desktop virtualization project typically go to storage, so that's the first area to attack when seeking a lower price tag, said Gunnar Berger, a virtualization research director at Gartner, who will give a presentation on controlling desktop virtualization costs at Synergy this week.

"A lot of these projects cost a small fortune," he said.

More on mobile application delivery

Mobile app delivery: The next frontier

Four options for delivering mobile applications

Even in cases where cost isn't prohibitive, complexity can stop a VDI project before it gets started. Citrix and other vendors have tried to make VDI a turnkey platform, but there are still so many moving parts and advanced technical requirements, Jones said.

"It's substantially more complicated to do desktop virtualization," he said. "That's still a major hurdle for many of our customers."

Jones said he holds out hope that initiatives such as Citrix's Project Excalibur, which combines the back-end infrastructure and management of XenDesktop and XenApp, will make desktop virtualization easier to deploy and support. But even then, VDI's use cases in the mobile era may limit adoption.

"Maybe this desktop virtualization thing won't ever ignite and catch fire like people thought it would, because at the end of the day people want their apps available anywhere, anytime -- not so much their OS," Jones said.

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