A pivotal part of Project Independence is the technology at its core.  An obvious choice for Citrix, and many other virtualization companies, is to select the Xen open-source technology as the basis for a bare-metal hypervisor.  The wonderful thing about having Xen at the core of the hypervisor is that Citrix,  undeniably the experts in Xen, has teamed with Intel, undeniably the experts in hardware virtualization, to build the core client hypervisor.  This is the best recipe for success that I’ve ever seen.

The Intel and Citrix collaboration, known as Thunder Lake, is  a joint program intended to bring many proven server based virtualization technologies to Intel vPro client desktops and laptops.  At the heart of the Citrix client hypervisor is open source Xen with its architecture that is uniquely designed to ensure strong isolation between VMs running on a single device.  Several key Intel technologies like VTx, VTd, TXT, and TPM will be leveraged by the Xen hypervisor such that Citrix products and technologies can bring features previously found only on server based solutions to the client platform with full local execution.  For example, since Xen is the most up to date technology using Intel’s VTd hardware, it is well suited to pass through device control directly to the client in a way that doesn’t impact security.  Hypervisor features like Xen’s support for VTd will solve some very tough problems for client virtualization.

A key requirement for a client hypervisor is a seamless user experience.  This is one of the main differences from a server-based hypervisor.  To accomplish this, hardware devices like Graphics and USB perform just like they do today but now on a platform running multiple VMs – all this without compromising security.  On the Xen client hypervisor you will get full 3D graphics, including Vista Aero, all the while maintaining full isolation between VM’s.  This ensures that the corporate applications and desktops are safe from vulnerabilities that could copy your display and keystrokes.      

Today, Xen offers excellent isolation between VMs.  With our new client hypervisor, security will be enhanced even beyond today’s standards.  By incorporating encryption and support for Intel’s TXT technologies the Citrix client hypervisor will check and measure the boot process.  Now data and OS are safe even if client platform has been compromised by removing the disk.

The exciting thing for us at Citrix is that Project Independence along with the Intel joint collaboration project will bring leading edge hardware and software technologies together for the distinct purpose of providing a better end user experience and better security.  For years it seems an improvement in security meant a decrease in user experience or performance.  More than ever most of us are PC users and soon we will be able to own and control our Desktop and therefore be in control of our experience and productivity.

 Matt