Unidesk Announces Elastic Layering and Session Container Breakthroughs for Citrix XenApp

Posted by Tom Rose on Jan 11, 2016

Today at Citrix Summit in Las Vegas, we announced major new layering innovations for Citrix XenApp that will change how everyone looks at Server-Based Computing (SBC). Our last blog set the stage for why today's Unidesk-XenApp news is so big. Here, we summarize the press release and the impact on enterprise IT organizations and service providers who are using Citrix XenApp -- as well as XenDesktop -- for modern workspace delivery.

What layering breakthroughs are Unidesk announcing today at Citrix's partner event?

We are announcing several new patented technologies:

  • Unidesk Elastic Layering™ attaches apps on-demand to XenApp sessions at logon based on user entitlements, giving every user their own unique set of apps.
  • Unidesk Session Containers™ persist user settings and unique apps between XenApp sessions, giving every XenApp user a fully personal user experience.
  • Unidesk integration with Citrix Provisioning Services extends PVS with the ability to provision an entire XenApp farm from a single instance of Windows Server and a single instance of any app.


How are these new capabilities different from Unidesk's existing layering technology?

Unidesk has always been known for our out-of-band, "below-the-OS" layering technology, which enables the Windows OS and Windows apps to be packaged as virtual disk “layers” with an ordinary installation. These layers can then be delivered to any number of virtual machines as if they were locally installed. Unidesk attaches the virtual disks, blends the layers together through file system and registry virtualization, and applies our advanced cross-layer merge technology so that apps in different layers are fully interoperable. No costly, time-consuming, and error-prone re-installations needed.  No extra images to patch.  No complex isolation issues to worry about. No artificial groupings to deal with cross-layer interoperability required.

Now, Unidesk can deliver these out-of-band layers to any number of XenApp session hosts as a layered image through PVS.

Added to this is our new Elastic Layering and Session Container technologies, which enable the correct app layers and a persistent layer containing user information to be dynamically attached to XenApp sessions whenever users logon.

We're the only solution that can offer the best of both worlds:

  • The unrivaled 99%+ application compatibility and app interoperability of our out-of-band layering technology.
  • The ability to elastically deliver each user's personal apps in real-time to XenApp sessions based on the user's directory attributes.

What is the combined impact of these innovations for XenApp customers?

Together, these innovations bring industry firsts to Citrix XenApp customers:

  • XenApp sessions can now offer the same customizable user experience that was, before, only possible with physical PCs or persistent virtual desktops.
  • XenApp customers can now leverage their Citrix investment for 100% of their apps and 100% of their users.
  • XenApp image management, patching, and silo configuration are now easy and efficient, since there is no longer any need to build apps into multiple images for different users and departments.

Why is integration with Citrix PVS significant?

Citrix PVS is a proven technology that is widely used for delivering shared images to XenApp servers and XenDesktop desktops. By integrating with PVS, Unidesk enables Citrix customers to:

  • Utilize their existing Citrix skillsets.
  • Snap Unidesk into existing Citrix environments without having to rebuild delivery groups, session hosts, and silos.

Do Unidesk's new capabilities also apply to XenDesktop?

Yes. Unidesk Elastic Layering and PVS integration also work with XenDesktop:

  • Elastic layers can be hot-added in real time to pooled, non-persistent virtual desktops whenever users logon. These resource-efficient non-persistent desktops, which can be shared by many users, will now have the same look and feel as 1:1 persistent desktops, which require a dedicated machine for every user.
  • Unidesk integration with PVS means that Unidesk layered images can be delivered through PVS to any number of XenDesktop desktops. An entire XenDesktop VDI implementation can now be provisioned and managed through PVS from a single Windows gold image and a single instance of any app.

What is Citrix's view on the Unidesk announcement?

Citrix is very supportive of how Unidesk's new layering innovations extend Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop, PVS, and AppDNA:

calvin-hsu.png"Business managers increasingly demand faster access to powerful new apps from IT, and Unidesk layering innovation extends the capabilities of PVS to simplify application delivery. Unidesk’s layered image delivery through PVS and real-time application delivery based on user policy accelerates the ability of IT to adapt and deploy apps at the speed of business. The reduction in image management overhead and ability to quickly customize deployments to meet individual user and department-level app requirements with Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop will help customers maximize their Citrix investments.”

Calvin Hsu, Vice President, Product Marketing, Desktops and Apps, Citrix

What are customers saying?

Many Citrix customers with large XenApp farms are already making enterprise commitments to Unidesk.  Here is what St. Luke's Health System says:

saint-lukes-1.png"We have a large end user computing environment with nearly 1,000 apps that have to be delivered across sessions using Citrix XenApp and desktops using Citrix XenDesktop. The cost and complexity of managing application lifecycles and images across this mixed environment were becoming bottlenecks to service delivery. Unidesk will give us tremendous packaging efficiencies, faster app delivery, and a more personal user experience for our care providers whether we’re delivering sessions or full desktops.”

John Walchle, Supervisor, IT Engineering Services, St. Luke's Health System

When will Unidesk be available and what platforms will be supported?

Tech Preview is planned for February, with general availability on all hypervisor platforms, including Citrix XenServer, Nutanix Acropolis, VMware ESXi, and Windows Server Hyper-V, following soon after.

What does this mean for Unidesk's broader strategy?

More than 750 million business users rely on Windows apps to get work done. IT organizations must now provide mobile access to these apps through an evolving mix of cloud and data center platforms. Unidesk is emerging as the open application lifecycle management solution that enables IT to separate Windows apps from infrastructure, so they can be managed once and delivered from any modern end user computing solution, on any cloud, to any device.

VDI, session, cloud, on-premises, or hybrid - Unidesk makes managing apps easy for IT. We are the open solution that keeps all options open. We are the management platform for Windows app mobility.

Read our press release for more details. Then check back here in the coming days for a deeper technical look at our new capabilities.

Topics: Citrix XenDesktop, Citrix XenApp, Unidesk Layering, Elastic Layering, Session Container, AppDNA, Citrix PVS, Persistent Session, XenApp Personlization

Posted by Tom Rose on Jan 11, 2016

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