One of the last sessions from iForum in Scotland last week was “Citrix Presentation Server Futures.” This article is a summary of what’s coming in the next few years.
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Please remember of course this is all subject to change and this is only what they’re talking about publicly. Who knows what the future will really hold?
In general, Citrix is hoping to create what they’re calling a “local experience or better” with Presentation Server. They mentioned a few IT trends that they’ll be paying attention to:
- IT professionals are more and more becoming “generalists,” so it’s important that the products that Citrix makes are easier to architect and use.
- A “hypervisor pervasiveness” will continue to affect all aspects of computing, from the server to the end device.
The very short version of these next three years looks like this:
- 2007: Presentation Server “Ohio” (released this past March as v4.5)
- 2008: Presentation Server “Deleware” (mainly a code update to work on Windows Server 2008)
- 2009: Presentation Server “Parra” (lots of new features and the next major PS release)
Let’s take a deeper look at these:
2007: Presentation Server “Ohio”
The Ohio edition of Presentation Server was released this past March as “Presentation Server 4.5.” Much has been written about the new features, but one of the significant things that doesn’t get much attention but that’s relevant here is that Citrix has moved to a single codebase for both the 32-bit and x64 editions of Presentation Server.
This doesn’t mean that the same bits can be installed on both platforms. It just means that (for the most part) the Citrix developers only write the code once, and then they compile it once for 32-bit and once for x64. It means that hotfixes and rollup packs will come out simultaneously for both platforms. (It also helps to explain why Citrix is ending support for the hastily-built x64 version of Presentation Server 4.0).
2008: Presentation Server “Delaware”
Microsoft is saying that Windows Server 2008 will be released later this year. As anyone who’s used Vista knows, Vista changes A LOT with regards to how things work. Since Server 2008 is kinda sorta like the server version of Vista, it goes without saying that it many applications (like, ohhh... Presentation Server?) might not “just work” on Server 2008.
To that end, Citrix has publicly stated that they want to release a version of Presentation Server that will run on Server 2008 within 90 days of the release of 2008. This release is what’s known as “Delaware” and will go into beta Q4 of this year.
It seems that for the most part, Delaware will be a simple platform update, with the focus being on getting it to work on Server 2008. In that case it would probably be released as “Presentation Server 4.5 for Windows Server 2008” which would work along side the existing “Presentation Server for Windows Server 2003.” That said, some Citrix folks I talked to in the tech lab last week said that they might do a minor version rev, so we might see 4.6 or something like that.
Either way we’ll see Delaware in 32-bit and x64 versions for Server 2008, along with the updated 32-bit and x64 builds for Server 2003, meaning that Citrix will be back to supporting Presentation Server on four platforms.
Delaware will most likely have some minor new features, mostly tied to the way that Server 2008 changes things. Examples include proper client-side “My Documents” and other named folder redirections to the client “My Documents” locations without having to navigate to the client drive mapped locations. Of course the fact that Citrix likes to sneak new functionality into hotfix rollup packs means that we could see some more minor new tweaks.
2009: Presentation Server “Parra”
The next major Presentation Server product will be “Parra” with a 2009 target. At this point we can assume that will be “Presentation Server 5.0.” Citrix is focusing on “IT simplicity” and “business agility” for this release. They’re paying attention to new emerging application architectures and will focus on multimedia, voice, mobile and virtual workspaces, and phone integration. (They talked about delivering the “complete” work environment—applications plus phone—in this product.) This is probably where we’ll see the autonomic load balancing “constellation” feature they keep talking about.
They also really want to focus on the concept of “subscribing” to applications and letting them flow from device to device.
Finally, they’re also focusing on really understanding the client device (capabilities, hardware, software) and the connection between the client and the server so that they can figure out where an application should be rendered on-demand and how it should be delivered.
Anyone paying attention to this industry knows that a lot is changing, and certainly the big stories out of Citrix over the next few years are going to be about the core application delivery platform integrating with Citrix Desktop Server, application streaming, Ardence, WANScaler, and the Access Gatway. But in terms of pure Presentation Server, this is what we know today.