Virtual desktops on fire: Citrix

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Virtual desktops on fire: Citrix

High-def teleworking needs only 1Mbps, CTO says.

When Citrix CTO Simon Crosby needed to access his US-based virtual corporate desktop from rural Norway, he did so seamlessly, over 3G.

The XenSource founder was one of 4,000 Citrix employees in 35 countries who used Skype, VoIP and other applications that were hosted in a Santa Clara data centre.

Because of WAN optimisation techniques employed in Citrix's network, Crosby said employees needed only a 1Mbps connection for a fully immersive, high-definition virtual desktop experience.

But that did not negate the need for a high-speed fibre network, Crosby said, referring to the Federal Government's $43 billion, 100Mbps National Broadband Network.

"I'm a geek and I always need more network capacity," said Crosby, who had a 35Mbps home connection. "There is a trend towards more and more network-centric operations."

In Sydney this week to meet with customers and analysts, Crosby said the desktop virtualisation market was "on fire" with interested customers.

"Customer interest is bigger than any vendors are able to fulfil," he said, highlighting scale and a shortage of relevant skills as today's bottlenecks.

Citrix's Australian customers included Victorian healthcare project HealthSMART and the ACCC, which this year adopted Citrix's XenDesktop, XenServer and XenApp.

The competition

Crosby was asked to comment on the competitive landscape Citrix faces with VMware. In recent months, Optus and Telstra have announced infrastructure-as-a-service offerings that were built on competing equipment from the VCE (VMware, Cisco and EMC) alliance.

Crosby said competitor VMware had done "a very good job with getting customers asking for VMware", and that service providers' hybrid, enterprise-focused clouds so far lacked differentiation.

While Citrix had no plans to offer software as a hosted service, he said partners like CSC and Fujitsu were well positioned to do so.

Citrix also had no plans to establish alliances with hardware vendors, Crosby said, speculating that the VCE alliance had generated a "massive channel conflict" and did not "make dollar sense at all".

"In general, storage guys are like dinosaurs," he said. "I would be the last person to turn to storage vendors for leadership about virtualisation."

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