Cloud computing is a major transformational force in enterprise IT today. Market leaders such as Apache CloudStack or Amazon Web Services have ushered in a new class of cloud infrastructure that is low cost, highly scalable, and easy to manage. By adopting cloud infrastructure, enterprises are able to take advantage of the same type of data center technology developed by Internet companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

Cloud architecture is different from legacy enterprise data center architecture. For example, enterprise data centers are typically built using vertically-scaled server, networking, and storage clusters. Setting up disaster recovery for enterprise applications requires near-real-time replication of entire system state. Although enterprise-grade infrastructure is generally reliable, when infrastructure fails, application also fails. In contrast, applications developed for cloud infrastructure have to assume that the underlying infrastructure can fail. Because cloud infrastructure generally involves a large amount of computing resources, failures can be quite common. Cloud applications are designed to recover not only from individual server and storage failures, but also from network outage or complete data center failures. Cloud applications typically are built using Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB) technologies that can redirect requests away from failed data centers. As such disaster recovery is designed into cloud applications.

Enterprise developers who write new applications will almost certainly target cloud platforms like Apache CloudStack or Amazon Web Services. It’s important to remember that applications designed for cloud infrastructure are quite different from legacy enterprise applications. Cross-the-board adoption of cloud infrastructure, therefore, will only happen when enterprises transform their existing applications to run on the cloud. Here lies a major challenge of cloud computing: how can enterprise transform their existing workload?

As the leader in desktop virtualization and cloud platform software, Citrix is uniquely positioned to bring to the market Project Avalon: the next generation desktop virtualization product which is optimized to run on cloud infrastructure and can be delivered as a cloud service. Project Avalon enables enterprises to transform some of their most important workloads, windows desktop and windows applications, to run on cloud infrastructure.

It has taken major engineering efforts to transform the XenDesktop product, which was designed to run on enterprise virtualization architecture, to work seamlessly on Apache CloudStack and Amazon Web Services. It was not easy but we did it. Here is what we learned: existing enterprise workload can be transformed to run on the cloud. This is what cloud transformation is all about.

Windows desktop is an ideal workload for the cloud. Desktop needs tend to fluctuate as the business grows, companies merge, or with seasonal and temporary workforce. If a typical user accesses his virtual desktop 40 hours a week, the desktop instance is idle for more than 76% of the time. Elasticity is a great match for the cloud.

Project Avalon enables windows desktop and windows applications to be delivered as a cloud service. This will benefit both enterprises and service providers. Enterprises and service providers alike are looking for capabilities such as self-service, metering, billing/chargeback, and delegated administration.

Interested? Can’t wait to get your hands on Project Avalon software? Follow our progress at http://www.citrix.com/projectavalon.