Earlier this week Citrix released a new version of their Bare Metal Hypervisor, XenClient 2 and it is now ready for production use. XenClient 2 extends the performance, flexibility and security of desktop virtualization to mobile users—and even lets them run multiple virtual desktops on a single laptop—while providing effective control for IT over data protection and desktop image management.
Here are the new capabilities at a high level for XenClient 2 and then below is a summary of what’s new since XenClient 1:
- EXPANDED HARDWARE COMPATABILITY, NOW RUNABLE ON 45 MILLION SYSTEMS. XenClient 2 will run on 3x as many systems as the first release by introducing support for Intel’s 2nd Generation Core vPro platform, adding support for additional PC systems plus expanded coverage to workstation and non-vPro value enterprise class systems. The hardware compatibility delivered in the XenClient 2 expands on XenClient’s previous ability to run on 15 million systems
- PRODUCTION SCALE SYNCHRONIZER that enables customers to deploy Synchronizer for XenClient for centralized deployment and management of XenClient in larger and more complex environments with enhanced levels of scalability, more detailed environment reporting, optimized transfers and backups along with support for complex active directory environments.
- SIMPLIFIED USER EXPERIENCE that enables increased adoption of XenClient by non-technical users. A revamp of the Citrix Receiver for XenClient user interface has produced a simpler, more responsive, and more intuitive user interface. Additional XenClient platform capabilities now allow a more native user experience with a set of features that allow XenClient to stay hidden during normal use of Windows virtual machines.
Here are the new features and enhancements added since the Tech Preview release:
- SEAMLESS APPLICATION SHARING allows the seamless display of applications running in one VM to be displayed into another. Thus allowing users to have a single display that combines applications from multiple VMs on the same system. And it does all this while keeping strict isolation of data between the virtual machines.
- OVER-THE-AIR UPGRADES now enables simple and secure upgrades of the XenClient software from a Synchronizer or other web server. This will allow end users to upgrade XenClient without the need to burn or boot CDs and means that IT can easily deploy new versions and fixes into their environment.
- 2ND FACTOR REGISTRATION PIN AUTHENTICATION provides an extra layer of security for customers deploying the Synchronizer with public facing internet access. When a XenClient system first connects to a Synchronizer for XenClient backend, it can require an optional 2nd factor of authentication, above and beyond a username and password combination to provide an extra layer of protection. Subsequent connections will use a unique digital certificate stored on the XenClient system.
- HIDDEN WIRELESS AUTOCONNECT enables XenClient to automatically make connections to hidden wireless networks that some customers have deployed in their environment or that IT pros use at home.
- ADDITIONAL POLICY CONTROLS allows the Synchronizer for XenClient to have even greater policy control over virtual machines on XenClient endpoints including policies for autobooting virtual desktops, 3D graphics, and seamless application sharing.
- DISPLAYPORT AND DVI VIDEO SUPPORT for systems based on Intel’s 2nd Generation Core platforms allows the use of the latest all digital connections to monitors and projectors.
- HIGH SPEED LINUX DRIVERS delivers near native performance for networking and storage when running Ubuntu 11 Linux as a virtual machine on XenClient.
And we always like to give a glimpse of features in progress that we want your feedback on so we have some new experimental feature previews in as well:
- SAFE GRAPHICS MODE enables the use of basic display capabilities on almost any graphics architecture including systems with nVidia graphics.
- EXPERIMENTAL 3G MODEM support allows the XenClient platform to make connections using a much broader set of integrated and USB based 3G data modems.
- EXPERIMENTAL TOUCHSCREEN gets us ready for increased use of touch enabled laptops and PC tablets. The XenClient UI was extensively rewritten to be touch enabled and a selection of USB and serial touchscreen systems will now work with XenClient out of the box.
And below are the new enhancements we delivered in the tech preview release and in the final release announced today:
- EXPANDED 3D GRAPHICS ARCHITECTURE now supports Intel HD 2000 and HD 3000 integrated graphics along with AMD FirePro and Radeon discrete graphics architectures. This not only expands hardware compatibility but together with Intel vPro directed I/O (Intel VT-d) technology delivers a native 3D graphics experience.
- NON-VPRO SYSTEM SUPPORT now enables a larger set of customers to evaluate and use XenClient on value enterprise systems. Users can now have a great 2D graphics experience when running XenClient on systems with Intel integrated graphics.
- LATEST OPERATING SYSTEMS with support for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 32-bit and 64-bit along with initial support for Ubuntu 11.04
- IMPROVED AUDIO EXPERIENCE delivers integrated audio drivers for Windows 7 with improved fidelity and performance
- LARGE VM MEMORY ALLOCATION supportallows the use of up to 8GB of memory for local virtual desktops running on XenClient. This allows Windows 7 to run with more applications, handle more open files, and support memory intensive workloads with ease.
- USER PROFILE VIRTUALIZATION allows the separation of the user personality from the rest of the system using layering. It allows the ability to selectively backup and recover the user profile independent of the rest of the system.
- OPTIMIZED BACKUPS to reduce the storage required for offering backup and recovery of virtual desktops. This is done by using smart disk block filtering to automatically remove unused disk blocks, Windows pagefiles, and other unnecessary data reducing the amount sent to the Synchronizer during backup operations.
- AUTOMATIC CONNECTION THROTTLING protects users, Synchronizers, and your network from heavy loads. The Synchronizer will automatically throttle and queue XenClient systems downloading images and sending backups when the systems or network is under heavy load.
- OPERATIONAL ENHANCEMENTS allow administrators to more easily setup, configure, and maintain the Synchronizer for XenClient. Additionally a new device filtering capability allows for more targeted reporting on information about deployed XenClient systems.
- SIMPLE OPERATIONS CONSOLE which allows admins to see at a glance the current configuration of their Synchronizer, along with simple configuration management from networking, to active directory connections, SSL certificates and more.
- COMPLEX ACTIVE DIRECTORY environment support with the ability to run in environments with complex trust relationships between multiple-active directories. Login and target images and policies to users and groups across your whole organization.
- PRECACHED VM DOWNLOADS to allow rapid deployment and recovery of virtual machine images from the Synchronizer even over slow network links. This is done by locally preloading the majority of the image from an optical disk or USB flash drive and only downloading the latest information over the wire from the Synchronizer.
- AUTOMATED iSCSI DEPLOYMENT allows hands off deployment of XenClient to Lenovo desktop systems by hosting the XenClient installer system and automated answer files on a Lenovo Storage Array.
- REVAMPED USER INTERFACE makes it even easier to create, maintain, and run local virtual desktops on XenClient. Includes a new simplified view with both basic and advanced features, the ability to swap virtual desktop hotkeys, and greatly improved system responsiveness.
- AUTOBOOT, AUTOSLEEP, AUTOSHUTDOWN allows XenClient power operations to be linked to the power state of a Windows virtual machine. This allows hiding XenClient behind the scenes