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Citrix offers common management console with first step of Project Avalon

Exacalibur and Merlin lead the way as Citrix moves to the cloud

By Mikael Rickna$?s, IDG News Service
October 17, 2012 02:40 PM ET

IDG News Service - Citrix Systems has started to detail the future of Windows desktops and applications in its virtual environments with tech previews of Excalibur and Merlin, the first versions of its Project Avalon.

Project Avalon, which Citrix announced in May, aims to transform any Windows application or desktop into a service that runs on either a private or public cloud and is delivered across any network, to any device.

Excalibur and Merlin will make up the core of Project Avalon, Citrix announced on Wednesday at its Synergy user conference in Barcelona.

The Excalibur release of Project Avalon includes FlexCast 2.0 technology, and aims to address the challenges of managing Citrix environments.

For the first time, Windows administrators will have a common management console to configure any mix of virtual applications and desktops in a Citrix environment, and deliver them to end users with a delivery technology of their choice.

"We have unified the XenDesktop and XenApp in one common codebase," said Krishna Subramanian, vice president of marketing and business development at Citrix. "Even though customers will be able to buy them separately its all tightly integrated, and the management is also integrated and simplified so we can do cloud-scale automation next."

Getting the management right is incredibly important for Citrix, according to Nathan Hill, research director at Gartner.

"The complexity of managing Citrix environments has historically been a big challenge for organizations. As the diversity of what Citrix is trying to offer increases, they need to make sure the different delivery mechanisms are as simple as possible to manage ," said Hill.

Excalibur will also include an improved implementation of Citrix's HDX, which is made up of features that aim to enhance multimedia performance on virtual desktops. Upgraded versions of technologies such as HDX Broadcast, RealTime and MediaStream will help improve video playback, according to Citrix.

Using Excalibur, enterprises will be able to deploy Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows XP virtual desktops.

The Merlin release will focus on delivering Windows as a cloud service. The platform will run Citrix's own CloudPlatform and public clouds such as Amazon Web Services' EC2 and Microsoft's Azure, according to Citrix.

The move to the cloud also adds a layer of automation and orchestration when managing applications or desktops.

"The way we see it, IT [departments] have to do more with less, and we see that trend continuing. Merlin will make them far more efficient," Subramanian said.

The move to the cloud will give IT staff more flexibility. Enterprises will be able to simultaneously run a mix of different Windows versions on servers and clients, and different versions of XenApp and XenDesktop as well. This will, for example, simplify migrations, Citrix said.

The Excalibur release of Project Avalon will be available as a tech preview to Citrix customers on Nov. 1, while the tech preview of Merlin will arrive during the first half of next year. The company isn't providing any details on when they will become generally available, according to Subramanian.

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