Citrix boosts HDX technology for VDI and cloud environments

Citrix showed off an improved HDX protocol at Citrix Synergy 2011 and previewed enhanced performance for video, audio, and 3D graphics over a WAN connection

One of the main challenges to VDI and desktop virtualization is delivering a good end-user experience. If the end-user isn't happy, nobody's happy. And if they start complaining about the service (whether they know it's virtual or not), your efforts may be sunk before they even start.

Part of that "good user experience" in a VDI and cloud environment relies on delivering or being able to receive smooth video and audio at the endpoint device. It also means being able to display more complicated graphics beyond those found in a simple 2D application.

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During Citrix Synergy in San Francisco last month, the company announced an update to its Citrix HDX technology, claiming to dramatically enhance performance, fidelity, and bandwidth efficiency for rich media services like video, audio, and 3D graphics, even when delivered over a wide area network (WAN) or from an external cloud environment.

The HDX protocol is a core technology component of Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix XenApp product lines. As consumer and application demands continue to increase, Citrix must advance and enhance its HDX protocol to try and keep up with those demands and do so across further distances with lower network bandwidth and higher latencies. These challenges will only continue to grow as the company moves deeper into VDI and continues to expand into public, private, and "personal" clouds.

"The ability to deliver a rich, high-definition user experience is a critical factor in the success of enterprise desktop virtualization and cloud initiatives," said John Fanelli, vice president, product marketing at Citrix. "Citrix has focused on continually advancing the state-of-the-art in user experience to ensure that users connecting to enterprise resources or personal cloud services from a wide variety of locations and networks will receive a consistent, secure, high-definition experience anytime, anywhere."

So what's new with this latest version of HDX technology previewed at Citrix Synergy?

  • No-compromise multitasking -- The latest core HDX technology now works more seamlessly and efficiently across multiple simultaneous network connections, enabling greater visibility and prioritization of work types.
  • Crystal-clear voice and video collaboration -- The new release optimizes the company's HDX RealTime technology with full support for quality of service (QoS) and prioritizes real-time traffic across both TCP and UDP network streams, delivering bidirectional audio for the likes of VoIP and Unified Communications applications.
  • Rich graphics experience for all users -- The new release includes innovations to the company's HDX RichGraphics technology, including enhanced Flash redirection, command remoting of DirectX and GDI+ graphics, and integrated HDX 3D Pro and Microsoft RemoteFX technology.
  • Advanced branch and cloud acceleration -- Needed for users in branch offices or working from remote locations requiring secure, "LAN-like" access to their corporate desktops, apps, and data. The new release includes significant enhancements to the company's HDX WAN Optimization technology, including optimizations to deliver Flash content over extreme distances and handling latencies of up to 300 milliseconds.

During Citrix Synergy, perhaps one of the best demonstrations of the week was with HDX and Receiver, causing an eye-opening and jaw-dropping moment when Citrix showed off a remote Mac OS X desktop being delivered to a Citrix Receiver client. According to Citrix, this could have been delivered to any device running Citrix Receiver (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and so on), but this particular demo was delivered to a Mac client and used the new HDX protocol to make it happen.

In the on-stage demo, Gus Pinto from Citrix showed off the popular time-killing game Angry Birds (and if you are wondering, he wasn't very good at the game -- which Pinto openly admitted), as well as the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie trailer (which did a fantastic job of keeping in sync and staying jitter free). Thanks to the latest HDX technology, the experience for both of these demonstrations was quite good.

While we've seen remote connections to Mac OS X before (GoToMyPC, VNC, and Aqua Connect), what made this demonstration even more exciting was the fact that this was the first time seeing it done via the Citrix HDX protocol. It also demonstrated the possibility of being able to leverage something like Citrix XenDesktop and HDX to create a Mac VDI offering somewhere down the road -- that is, if Apple doesn't offer any objections to doing so.

This article, "Citrix boosts HDX technology for VDI and cloud environments," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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