[UPDATE] Michael Chang, a marketing manager at Citrix responsible for this beta program, just emailed me a PowerPoint presentation about this product. I've attached it above.
Citrix Virtual Design Studio. Is this the product that was announced at Summit a few months ago that lets you design your Citrix environments virtually? Nope. That's Citrix Workflow Studio. (Hey, the Citrix product naming & marketing department is two-for-two in my book now!)
Citrix Virtual Design Studio is the final name for what was codenamed "Project Pictor," a set of extensions for Presentation Server that let it run OpenGL-based CAD applications via ICA. So "Virtual Design Studio" is for Computer Aided Design, virtually (since ICA is application virtualization now). Get it? (I don't know where the "studio" part came from either.)
Right now Virtual Design Studio only works with Dassault CATIA v5 running on the x64 edition of Windows Server 2003. From what I understand this is a full build of Presentation Server 4.5 x64 edition. (Well, the Citrix person I talked to called it XenApp 4.5, but I confirmed with her that she was referring to what everyone outside of Ft. Lauderdale calls "Presentation Server 4.5."
If you're using CATIA and willing to spend the time working with Citrix engineers on the beta (and willing to particpate in post-launch "endorsement" programs), then you might be interested in signing up for the Virtual Design Studio beta program. (They're calling this a "White Glove" program which is something that I've never heard of outside of ads for very expensive hotels. What this means in the context of CAD applications on thin clients is beyond me.)
I haven't received an update on how Virtual Design Studio will work in about six months. Last we heard, and what Citrix has confirmed publicly, is that Virtual Design Studio will leverage very special (read: expensive) dedicated graphics processing hardware that hooks into the Presentation Server to fully render the OpenGL CAD stuff on the server side. Virtual Design Studio itself will carry a price premium over the Platinum edition of Presentation Server, but all of this is chump change to CATIA customers who are paying somewhere around $15k per user already.
The big question on everyone's mind (well, on my mind at least) is how Microsoft's acquisition of Calista in January might affect Citrix's Virtual Design Studio. In a nutshell, Calista has software that lets excess CPU capacity on a host be used for a virtual GPU that's accessible to a guest VM. And while virtual GPUs don't perform nearly as well as dedicated physical GPUs, if you have 8 or 16 or 32 cores in a box, chances are you probably have a few extra cycles to spare. (And Intel doesn't mind overselling this capacity, although since AMD owns ATI, they might be able to offer some really unique hybrids in this space in a few years.)
Now it's possible that Calista will never evolve anywhere near CATIA's space that Citrix is entering with Virtual Design Studio. But Citrix has said that this is just there starting point--that they want to move into other remoting OpenGL applications and then ultimately into things like Aero Glass and DirectX. And that is hard-core Calista space.
Of course Calista wasn't actually shipping any products when Microsoft bought them (must be nice!), so really we don't have any idea when or how Microsoft will "productize" the technology they got from Calista. But it will be interesting to watch.