During its Citrix Summit conference in Anaheim, Calif., this week, the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) provider announced a new product that uses Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform to provide a Windows 10 desktop experience to practically any device, enabling businesses to take an "as-a-service" approach to delivering the operating system to users.
Dubbed XenDesktop Essentials, the offering makes good on the company's promise last year to develop a straightforward Azure-based VDI solution for joint customers on Windows 10 Enterprise E3 per user licensing plans, according to Nabeel Youakim, vice president of Product Management and Strategic Alliances at Citrix's Windows Application Delivery unit.
"Delivering Windows 10 workspaces running on Azure to any device has never been simpler or easier, or more cost-effective," he wrote in a blog post.
Currently, Citrix is readying XenDesktop Essentials for imminent release on the Azure Marketplace. Joining it soon will be XenApp Essentials Service, which allows organizations to deploy business apps with "additional management, user experience, and security features," said Youakim.
Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Enterprise Client and Mobility division, chimed in to say Citrix's solutions provide "a common control plane (also hosted on Azure) that enables management of the Citrix solutions on-premises and in the cloud," in a separate announcement. "You can move your hosted desktops/apps to Azure at your own pace with a single place and method to manage them."
On the mobility front, the companies said the work to ensure interoperability between NetScaler, Citrix's secure application delivery platform with single sign-on capabilities, and Microsoft's Intune mobile device and application management solution, is complete. This helps ensure that devices attempting to access on-premises application resources are validated by Intune before a VPN (virtual private network) connection is established, a tactic that further enhances security.
Citrix also kicked off a technology preview of XenMobile Essentials for EMS, Microsoft's Enterprise Mobility + Security solutions bundle, formerly named Enterprise Mobility Suite, which also includes Intune. Available in the Azure Marketplace soon, XenMobile Essentials for EMS will enable joint customers to assemble highly-secure mobile environments that blend Microsoft's mobile management capabilities and Citrix's micro-VPN and data encryption features.
Also this week, Citrix announced it had acquired Windows application packaging and management specialist Unidesk for an undisclosed sum.
Unidesk employs application layering technology that segments Windows workspaces into an operating system layer, an application layer and another personalization layer used to store user settings, data and additional apps. The approach allows IT departments to simplify virtual image management while maintaining a high level of per-user configurability.
"Unidesk has been recognized by customers and industry analysts as the clear leader in application layering, offering multiple unique advantages that streamline secure app delivery and VDI deployments and make them easier to manage," said Jeroen van Rotterdam, senior vice president of Engineering at Citrix, in a Jan. 9 statement.
Citrix plans to integrate Unidesk's layering technology into XenApp and XenDesktop. However the company will continue to offer it as a standalone product for users of competing solutions.