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Citrix's Sanbolic buy to power new WorkspacePod

Citrix's new purchase will help power its WorkspacePod converged infrastructure offering, aimed at improving VDI for customers.

A new converged infrastructure package could aid VDI deployments for Citrix customers, powered in part by its acquisition of Sanbolic.

Citrix acquired Sanbolic, Inc., a Waltham, Mass.-based startup focused on storage virtualization, this week for an undisclosed sum. Sanbolic brings workload-oriented storage virtualization technologies to Citrix, a piece of the company's overall virtualization puzzle that had been missing.

Sanbolic's technology allows customers to software-define storage for the delivery of application-specific workloads from any source, including solid state drives, storage area networks (SAN), flash and hard drives, and server-side or cloud deployments.  Deployments under Sanbolic are geo-distributed across multiple locations and clouds.

What Sanbolic means for Citrix CI

With Sanbolic in tow, Citrix unveiled a converged infrastructure offering this week called the Citrix WorkspacePod. The workspace infrastructure software will combine Sanbolic with HP's Moonshot platform and the HP ProLiant SL4540 server for a pre-packaged offering to include compute, storage and networking for Windows, Linux and Web application delivery.

There is no storage challenge left to overcome.
Simon Bramfittdesktop virtualization analyst

Companies interested in VDI today can either integrate their own stacks, or go to a vendor such as Nutanix, Inc. or Sphere 3D Inc., and buy an appliance with pre-installed components. But the WorkspacePod with Sanbolic baked-in gives potential Citrix customers an alternative, said Simon Bramfitt, analyst with Entelechy Associates, Inc. in Concord, Calif.

"I can now go to HP and buy a pre-integrated stack that does [VDI] without the possible risk of dealing with some nonstandard hardware from a smaller vendor," Bramfitt said.

Putting Sanbolic into an appliance model makes sense for both Citrix and its customers, said David Johnson, analyst with Forrester Research, Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.

"This will hide the complexity of storage provisioning, capacity management and scale-out for XenDesktop deployments," Johnson said of the WorkspacePod.

It's a fairly expensive operation for companies to reconfigure storage for VDI, so a product such as WorkspacePod helps simplify that process to ease the relative cost of operations, Johnson said.

The acquisition of Sanbolic also helps Citrix round out its virtualization portfolio with a product that competes with VMware's VSAN, Bramfitt added.

Sanbolic customers will receive product support from Citrix, and Sanbolic customers running the product in non-Citrix environments can continue to do so, according to a Citrix spokesperson.

Citrix customers can use Sanbolic with existing infrastructure, be it on-premises or in the cloud. More than 200 Citrix customers are also Sanbolic customers, using the product to ensure availability and cluster applications based on location within XenApp and XenDesktop deployments, Citrix said. A tech preview for WorkspacePod will be available in the first quarter of this year, but pricing information is not yet available.

Updates for XenApp and XenDesktop are also coming in the first quarter of this year from Citrix. These include an update for the HDX Optimization Pack for Microsoft Lync, with expanded delivery of Lync 2013 to Linux and Mac devices and director session recording. Administrators will also have more auditing capabilities and improved high-quality graphics performance for customers running XenApp and XenDesktop on the updated XenServer 6.5.

For customers on the Citrix Subscription Advantage, tech previews are on the way for a Linux virtual desktop agent, HDX with Framehawk for acceleration technology when network reliability is a challenge and Citrix DesktopPlayer for Windows for offline virtual desktop connections.

Next Steps

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