Release: Citrix XenDesktop 3.0

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While VMware is busy releasing an open source client for its connection broker, Citrix is busy updating its end-to-end VDI platform.

The new XenDesktop 3.0, released just two months since version 2.1, introduces some important updates and new features:

  • Includes XenServer 5.0 rather than 4.1 (which implies a higher consolidation ratio – Citrix claims that XenDesktop 3.0 can now host twice the number of virtual desktop of XenDesktop 2.x)
  • Includes Provisioning Server (formerly Ardence Provisioning Server) as an integrated component rather than a bundled package
  • Includes additional features from XenApp ICA (SpeedScreen multimedia redirection, USB devices support)
  • Includes a brand new set of remote desktop rendering enhancements called HD-X
  • Includes User Profile Manager 2.0
  • Supports SmartCard authentication

The innovation around HD-X is the important part of the new XenDesktop.
The optimization engine des a lot of things, on server-side, over the network and on client-side:

On severs-side HD-X accelerates some graphic-intensive activities like photo edition, web browsing, video and (bi-directional) audio consumption, and more.
In H1 2009 the technology will also be able to accelerate VoIP software applications as well as 3D/CAD ones.

On network-side HD-X estimates the bandwidth availability (with a special attention to brahcn offices scenarios), prioritizes the virtual channels, balances the remote desktop session

On client-side HD-X accelerates some common UI interactions, like the text-entry or the mouse-click feedback, or multimedia consumption.
Additionally, HD-X extends support for client hardware, like multiple monitors, high-performance display cards or USB devices.
In H2 2009 HD-X will also be able to support the Microsoft Aero Glass interface (possibly both the one included in Windows Vista and the upcoming new version featured by Windows 7).

Anyway the most important enhancement that HD-X will introduce is expected in H2 2009 as well, when Citrix will introduce a technology called SmartRendering.
SmartRendering will basically inspect every component of the virtual desktop infrastructure, automatically tuning the XenDesktop features to deliver the best possible experience.
And this means that HD-X will autonomously decide where to put the rendering load (on the server, on the network or on the client) depending on resources availability.