Citrix pushes the XenClient client hypervisor to new heights with its 4.5 release, the latest iteration of XenClient Enterprise.
Citrix Systems' XenClient 4.5 brings a host of new features and capabilities, which are clearly aimed at making desktop virtualization more palatable to the enterprise. Many of the enhancements are a direct result of Citrix’s acquisition of Virtual Computer, a company that was forged in the early days of the desktop virtualization movement. Since that acquisition, Citrix has steadily incorporated the engineering and features found in Virtual Computer's NxTop client hypervisor into XenClient.
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Here are the most notable new capabilities that are going to make a difference for enterprises interested in client virtualization.
Increased hardware compatibility. Citrix XenClient Enterprise 4.5 supports the latest third-generation Intel Core vPro processor systems, extending desktop virtualization to ultrabooks, next generation laptops and high-performance workstations. That enhanced support brings the hardware compatibility list to more than 400 devices, meaning that there is much broader support for client devices used in the enterprise.
Windows 8 integration. What's more, version 4.5 incorporates support for Microsoft Windows 8 and takes advantage of redesigned global desktop expansion capabilities, which supports a multitude of languages. Although Windows 8 support is in its first phase, the capabilities offered extend beyond basic compatibility; administrative rules and roles can be applied to Microsoft's latest operating system as well.
VLAN tagging. XenClient Enterprise 4.5 also takes into account specific enterprise needs, such as compliance and other legislative requirements. Those capabilities result from enterprise network policies that can be incorporated with VLAN tagging.
That feature proves significant for a multitude of enterprise use cases, one of which is PCI compliance, where credit card transactions must be run on systems that are separated from PC users. With new VLAN tagging and network policy enhancements, systems processing transactions can be isolated from the rest of the network, creating a safe sphere of operation for highly sensitive processes.
Remote user enhancements. Taking into account the growth of the remote and mobile user markets, Citrix incorporated technologies into its client hypervisor that extend secure virtual desktops to remote users.
The pairing of Netscaler and XenClient 4.5 gives XenClient's synchronizer more capabilities, allowing remote users to more easily deploy, update and back up XenClient devices. That reduces the administrative burden associated with supporting remote desktop users. Plus, via desktop synchronization, this integration brings a higher level of security to remote desktops because policies, updates and other controls can be pushed out to remote users faster and with less manual interaction.
VM performance. These new network policy capabilities and remote-user features often come at a price – namely, performance. So, Citrix has sought ways to improve virtual machine performance without compromising security or limiting features.
For example, Citrix now claims a 30% improvement in hypervisor boot times, by tightening up the underlying code and incorporating technologies such as OS optimization and caching. What's more, XenClient 4.5 now offers improved support for dual monitors and docking stations and features a new display architecture.
Those additions make it much easier for end users to configure their monitors, tweak their resolutions, and ultimately improve the end user experience. Ideally, that will reduce help desk calls and empower end users to modify their hardware configurations with little fuss.