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Why Microsoft and Citrix need each other

Citrix CEO melds their virtualization solutions at Synergy Conference 2011

By Robert Mullins on Tue, 05/31/11 - 12:45pm.

Desktop virtualization company Citrix made news last week with an overhaul of its major product lines and the introduction of “Project Olympus,” a cloud infrastructure stack based on open source software. But pretty high up in CEO Mark Templeton’s keynote at Citrix Synergy Conference 2011 in San Francisco was a big shout out to Microsoft. Microsoft is a big promoter of Citrix’s XenDesktop technology for delivering a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Citrix knows it needs to work and play well with Microsoft in order to deliver Citrix in predominantly Windows environments -- and to take a bite out of market share leader VMware.

“We’ve focused on two things,” Templeton told Citrix partners and customers gathered at San Francisco’s Moscone Center West, “getting our technology stacks aligned so you get simpler, higher performance, easier to manage solutions and getting our go-to-market [strategies] aligned so that you’re working with one team when it comes to desktop and app virtualization.”

Over the last year, he said, Citrix and Microsoft have worked to better align such products as Microsoft’s RemoteFX, which delivers an enhanced end user experience for virtual desktop environments that are based on Microsoft’s Server 2008 R2, supporting both Citrix XenApp and Microsoft App-V for application virtualization. Citrix has also integrated its HDX technology, for a high definition user experience, along with RemoteFX in Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor. Lastly, Citrix supports the newly released Hyper-V SP1, which Templeton said supports 40 percent more virtual machines than the previous version.

Citrix also has improved its integration with Microsoft System Manager for managing virtual environments. New service packs have been introduced for Citrix’s XenApp Connector for delivering Windows virtual applications as a service. And Citrix’s XenServer Management tool manages both Hyper-V and XenServer virtual machines in one console.

“You can use System Center as your single pane of glass to manage your virtual app and desktop environments,” Templeton said.

The go-to-market strategies of the two are also aligned through an initiative called the V-Alliance, launched within the last year, a collection of 700 partners operating in 67 countries, which together deliver a full Citrix-Microsoft stack for desktop and app virtualization.

Together, Citrix and Microsoft hope to take on market share leader VMware by hitting VMware on price. One current promotion is called the “VDI Kick Start and Rescue for VMware VDI.” In a dig at pricey VMware, the promotion offers a Citrix-Microsoft VDI package “without breaking the bank.” Qualified customers can get a 70 percent discount on Microsoft’s VDI Standard Suite subscription license, or 50 percent off a Citrix XenDesktop VDI Edition annual license.

The Citrix-Microsoft alignment makes sense both because their technology complements each other and because together, they can present a decent competitive challenge to VMware.

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