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Cinco de Announcements for Citrix

This week, lots of folks celebrated Cinco de Mayo, which is as good an excuse as we can think of to down some cervezas and devour some Mexican food, not that we ever need an excuse to do that.

Of course, Cinco de Mayo isn't Mexican Independence Day, as many Americans think it is. Cinco de Mayo celebrates a Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862; Mexican Independence Day actually occurred about a half century before that battle. (A kid who grows up in Texas as the son of a Spanish teacher just knows this stuff.)

Confused? Well, that's normal -- Mexican history is actually fairly complicated, not unlike (segue...here it comes...) the five announcements Citrix released on the first day of its Citrix Synergy conference, which happened to be on May 5. That's right; Citrix put out cinco press releases for Cinco de Mayo. Unfortunately, that's where the "cinco" similarities end, and Citrix has, thus far, provided neither cerveza nor Mexican food. Alas.

For the record, five press releases is way too many for one editor's feeble mind, so we're just going to focus on a couple that seem like the most interesting. They go together like cerveza and Mexican food. The first announcement concerns Citrix Dazzle, which is a "self-service app store for corporate employees," or so said Wes Wasson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Citrix, on a conference call with the press this week.

The idea behind Dazzle is that applications such as Microsoft Office sit in a corporate datacenter rather than being installed on individual clients. Users just go out and use them when they need them; the apps and the information within them rest on a server. Wasson described Dazzle as a "lightweight storefront that sits in front of existing XenApp and other delivery products" and allows IT folks to expose [applications] in a much more elegant way." Lovely!

Partnering with Dazzle is Citrix Receiver, which, despite the disappointment of not having been chosen in the recent NFL draft, still manages to be useful. Receiver is a free software client that "makes accessing virtual desktops for virtual apps as easy as turning on your TV set," Wasson said, and pushes out application updates automatically so IT folks don't have to.

The Dazzle-Receiver combo doesn't just work on PCs, either. It works on the Mac OS and, yes, even on the iPhone. Download Citrix Receiver on any compatible device (and there are lots of them, with more to come), and you're a URL away from using any app in your company's arsenal without downloading the app at all. The app is running in the company's datacenter using Citrix's XenApp infrastructure; only Receiver resides on the client.

This sounds for all the world to us like the "internal clouds" we keep hearing about. Instead of having applications and data reside in some third party's datacenter, they sit in an on-premises, corporate datacenter, but users still use applications as a service rather than running them on the client. It's kind of a do-it-yourself Software as a Service model, and the idea is to reduce the burden on IT of having to constantly update and manage applications on users' computers. It's also easier, in theory, to track which users are running which applications and how often, and purchase virtual licenses accordingly.

We're guessing that VMware and probably even Microsoft can offer a similar experience (although, to be honest, we don't know for sure -- but we're sure they'll tell us at some point), but the Citrix offering is nicely branded and packaged and seems to present to partners a pretty good opportunity for implementation revenues. After that, if this thing works the way it's supposed to, the system should mostly take care of itself, but we're guessing that partners might be able to pick up some maintenance revenue along the way.

We like the cloud here at RCPU. We like it almost as much as we like cerveza and Mexican food. OK, that's not true, but we are fans of the cloud model. What Citrix is offering is intriguing because it doesn't require outsourcing but still offers and easy-to-manage (supposedly), service-oriented model. That's why we chose those two press releases from Citrix's Cinco de Mayo selection. The others, plus some that came out after Cinco de Mayo, are here if you really want to get into the spirit of the holiday.

Have you set up an internal cloud for a customer? Are you hearing a lot of buzz about this model? What did you do for Cinco de Mayo? Reveal all at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on May 05, 2009 at 11:55 AM