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Earlier this year, Citrix acquired Virtual Computer to complement our client virtualization product offering and launch the new version of XenClient Enterprise. XenClient Enterprise is now an integral part of our Mobile Workstyles solution and FlexCast virtual desktop delivery technology. It is a proven solution with real large-scale customer deployments, delivering local virtual desktops that are centrally managed.  In this must-read blog series, we will examine the client virtualization space, how XenClient came to be, why the acquisition of Virtual Computer was a logical thing to do, and how XenClient is delivering value.

The creation of XenClient was driven by the need for offline virtual desktops. Citrix took the XenServer Type-1 hypervisor and put it on desktops and laptop PCs, creating a virtualized client PC environment. In doing so, enterprises now had the ability to virtualize at either the server or client, enabling end users to run multiple VMs to best suit their specific needs.

XenClient was developed with two key attributes in mind – performance and security. From a performance perspective, the goal was to provide a user experience that was as good as native. To achieve this, Citrix engineering took advantage of specific PC hardware capabilities such as Intel Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O or VT-d.

As a true Type-1 hypervisor, XenClient Enterprise inherently provides multiple, securely-isolated computing environments on a single device. To further harden this environment, XenClient was enhanced to take advantage of the Intel Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) and the Trusted Platform Module (TPM). This outcome resulted in XenClient XT, released in the second half of 2011. Intel TXT provides a trusted launch of the client hypervisor at machine boot time by validating that the hypervisor has not been tampered with. Intel TPM provides further tamper proofing by sealing the encryption keys of the hypervisor configuration.

These performance and security attributes caught the eye of IT professionals and government agencies. Each saw how XenClient Enterprise (or XenClient XT) could be a useful tool for solving a client side computing problem. However it became clear that another scenario, the PC image management scenario, presented the largest market opportunity.

By version 2.0, Citrix had grown the list of compatible hardware. However, there was a great opportunity to build upon this success by broadening the range for both hardware and back-end management tools. This resulted in the acquisition of Virtual Computer. This strategy is proving to be successful as Citrix recently closed a deal of 1,800 seats of XenDesktop Platinum, driven by XenClient Enterprise.

The following table summarizes these key Client Virtualization user scenarios.

Client Hypervisor User Scenarios

Table 1: Client hypervisor user scenarios.

In the next part of the blog series, we will discuss the PC image management problem in greater detail. In the meantime, join the conversation by connecting with the Citrix XenClient team online!