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Citrix Project Avalon (Excalibur) – Three Features I’m Excited About

by on March 29, 2013

Project Excalibur, one part of the Project Avalon announced at Citrix Synergy 2012, is Citrix’s next-gen desktop and application virtualization technology. Essentially it’s the next version of XenDesktop and XenApp. No more XenApp? Not sure about that yet, but it is Citrix’s attempt to unify the two products while making some significant improvements around their architecture and performance. Project Excalibur combines VDI, Hosted Shared desktops, and applications in one management platform. Below are three features that I am most excited about:

Simplified, unified, and expanded FlexCast 2.0 architecture

New unified FlexCast 2.0 architecture combines simplified and integrated provisioning and personalization tools for both desktops and apps, delivered from either a desktop-based or server-based operating system.No more IMA and more of FMA. IMA (Independent Management Architecture) was introduced back in MetaFrame XP and describes the management architecture behind the data store and the management protocol. If you have worked with MetaFrame through XenApp, you know IMA…very well. Do not mention Zones to me…

FMA (FlexCast Management Architecture) is here to stay. This was introduced with XenDesktop, but also introduced a disjointed approach to management. You now have XenApp controllers and you have Desktop Delivery Controllers. You can easily see how if you are team of one, management could be a pain. Now with FMA in Project Excalibur you can manage your XenApp Hosted Shared desktops and application virtualization with your VDI desktops.

No more Delivery Service Console or AppCenter. No more Zone Data Collectors. No more Farms; now there are just sites.

SuperCodec for Optimized Graphics

New enhancements to HDX using Deep Compression Codec technology double the visual performance of desktops and apps while cutting network utilization in half over low bandwidth connections using Citrix Receiver for Windows.Whenever I hear ‘super’ in front of a word, I cringe. But with Citrix’s promise of a 2x visual performance, the word ‘super’ might be in order. Any advancement in performance is great and when Citrix released TCP multi-stream, it was a step in the right direction. I have not seen any numbers yet but I am excited to see this feature. It will make use cases a bit easier to figure out especially for those entry-level power users.

StoreFront for apps and data

Create centralized enterprise app stores to deliver desktops, applications, and other resources to users on any device, anywhere with the Citrix StoreFront.I am going to miss Web Interface. It was the first time I felt like a web developer when I customized WI for a customer. I was so proud back then. StoreFront is replacing, or should I say, has replaced Web Interface. With enterprises consolidating resources and as the public sector looks to set up Fill in the blank-As-a-Service, StoreFront will be that glue for Windows, web, SaaS and mobile apps for any device.

So what is the big deal? Remember that these are just three high level features from Project Excalibur. There is much more, such as support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, intelligent configuration tools, Delegated Administration, advanced configuration logging, improved Personal vDisk improvements, Citrix CloudStack integration, and Profile Manager is now in Studio (formerly Desktop Studio). Do not forget about improvements in Director. Knowing Citrix like I do, there is much more up their sleeve. I am looking forward to Citrix Synergy this year to see more and to see more on Project Merlin, the second part of Project Avalon.

Project Excalibur is available now to work with in tech preview. Or you can reach out to Gotham for assistance.

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