Cloud-based virtualization goes mobile

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By eeNews Europe

Cloud service providers also got a boost this week as Citrix demonstrated its IT innovation called IT-as-a-service, which allows any SP to muscle into the cloud service space that today is dominated by Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, Rackspace and a few other giants. Also at the event, Nvidia Corp. demonstrated how its virtual graphics processing unit (vGPU) capabilities can be used to run intensive cloud-based applications at speeds indistinguishable from those on a local GPU.

"The partner model is the core of our virtualization and cloud orchestration businesses," said Mark Templeton, president and CEO of Citrix Systems, Inc. (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.). "In the end, each IT organization has to be responsible for their users’ experience—Citrix just serves as a proxy for them by making sure that a user’s apps are always up to date. However, the content—all the data—belongs to our customers, and we make sure it is our customer’s brand–not Citrix–that is prominently displayed to their users."

Mark Templeton, president and CEO of Citrix, speaks at the Citrix Synergy event.

At Citrix Synergy, the last niches of virtualization and cloud orchestration that had not yet been incorporated were demonstrated. For instance, Templeton showed a Mac, an iPad Mini and even a Samsung smartphone could run the same virtual Windows desktop applications as a Dell laptop. In keeping with Citrix virtualization and cloud orchestration model, the Windows applications were actually running in an IT datacenter, with encrypted screenshots being the only data being transmitted to the laptops, tablets and smartphones.

"Government employees, financial service officers and medical personnel are some of our biggest customers," said Dave Moxey, senior director for marketing and strategy at Citrix. "These professional users love that their data stays secure behind their corporate firewalls, but is still accessible as encrypted screenshots that can’t be eavesdropped on even if a user loses their device."

Nvidia’s GPU capabilities
To cap off the last vestige of missing capabilities in virtualization environments, Nvidia demonstrated its vGPU capabilities, which allow users running graphics intensive application like Photoshop to run their applications remotely at speeds indistinguishable from using a local GPU.

"We announced virtual GPUs a few years ago, but that project was premature and, quite frankly, failed," said Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia’ CEO. "However, this time we’ve got it right and have big customers like Boeing using our vGPUs to connect their diverse design teams around the world running graphics intensive applications from anywhere."

The key to success for vGPU’s, according Nvidia, was switching to the H.264 video codec technology, which it adapted to encode entire screenshots as if they were frames of a video. A user’s device then uses its standard H.264 decoding chip to render the vGPU generated graphics at video speeds of up to 30 frames per second, resulting in zero lag time.

Nvidia says its GRID vGPU technology–integrated into Citrix XenDesktop 7–gives users of any device the performance, stability and compatibility of hardware-accelerated graphics.

Historically, Citrix started out just offering multi-user access to Microsoft’s OS/2 running on IBM computers back in the 1990s. The company began its ascent to a $2.5 billion virtualization powerhouse when it acquired XenSource Inc. in 2007 for its open-source Xen Hypervisor technology on which Citrix bases all its virtualization software.

Likewise, Citrix began its ascent to dominance in open-source cloud service enablement when it acquired for its CloudStack open-source cloud-orchestration software which enables any service provider to offer cloud services similar to Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

From left: Mark Templeton, Citrix CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia CEO, and Brad Peterson, chief demo officer at Citrix.

Earlier this year, Citrix surrendered ownership of Xen hypervisor to the open-source Linux Foundation and CloudStack to the open-source Apache Software Foundation. In return, Intel, AMD Amazon, Google, Samsung and other leading firms made similar contributions to those open-source virtualization and cloud orchestration foundations virtually assuring interoperability among all future virtualization and cloud orchestration service providers.

For the future, Citrix is currently researching how to similarly standardize machine-to-machine (M2M) interactions including deep-packet inspection and realtime analytics that optimize M2M data traffic without compromising the user experience. Using the same business model that accounted for it previous success at vitualiztion and cloud orchestration, Citrix recently acquired ByteMobile for its M2M expertise.


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