Citrix's big announcement last week was about the release of XenDesktop version 3. But there were some other smaller announcements too that many people missed, including the one about Citrix creating a new brand called "HDX." (citrix.com/hdx) HDX, which technically stands for "High Definition Experience," is not a product or even a feature, rather, it's the marketing name for all the various technologies and components that work together across Citrix products to deliver the best experience possible to end users. HDX refers to components on the server side, the network, and the client device.
Today, HDX is broken out into six sub-brands:
- HDX MediaStream – This is the "RAVE" multimedia redirection, where media streams are sent in their native formats to client devices and decoded locally.
- HDX RealTime – This is the real-time bi-directional audio support that allows VoIP and dictation software to work over ICA. (XenApp only today, soon to be in XenDesktop.)
- HDX 3D – This name is a bit misleading now, as HDX 3D is where Citrix is lumping their progressive display, lossy compression, SpeedScreen browser acceleration, and advanced capabilities of thinwire itself. One assumes that the Apollo technology will show up here when it's released.
- HDX Plug-n-Play – This is the catch-all brand for every single client-side peripheral capability, like TWAIN, USB drive support, and printing, as well as the client roaming capabilities such as client time zone support and the ability for a session to reconfigure itself when reconnected from a client with different capabilities.
- HDX Broadcast – This was called "HDX Network" until the last minute. It's the name for all the WANscaler capabilities as well as the network- and bandwidth-related stuff that's been in XenApp for years, like virtual channel bandwidth control and session reliability.
- HDX IntelliCache – Like HDX Broadcast, IntelliCache also describes technologies that are part of Citrix's appliances as well as traditional ICA features. Specifically, IntelliCache refers to the Citrix Branch Repeater's ability to act as a storage point for XenApp streamed apps, but it also refers to all of the ICA client's bitmap and persistent object caching that have been around for over a decade.
Is HDX just a name change?
Let's be perfectly clear about something. The only thing new about "HDX" is the HDX name itself. None of these technologies are new. And while there are definitely some "eye-rollers" on this list (Is "auto client reconnect" really a high-def experience thing?), calling attention to their many capabilities makes a lot of sense for Citrix, regardless of how minor they might be.
Such is the brave new world we live in where Citrix actually has competition. (Yay for competition!) And this competition means that Citrix needs to position themselves against the those who say that Citrix "just" has ICA, and that ICA is more than ten years old. For example, VMware has been dissing ICA pretty hard over the last few months, claiming that bundling Wyse's TCX capabilities into View 3 delivers a remote desktop experience pretty close to ICA. Quest Software's EOP extensions to RDP allow them to do the same thing.
To that end, you'll notice that HDX covers everything Citrix is doing to help with the user experience--it's larger than ICA itself. So if Citrix can elevate the conversation to be about "HDX versus x" instead of "ICA versus x," then that's a very good thing for them. (Plus it doesn't hurt that HDX involves these appliances and other pay-for options in addition to XenDesktop and XenApp.)
Moving forwad, we'll see the HDX branding in the Citrix products themselves, specifically with admin console screens and tabs dedicated to HDX. Right now these thirty-or-so HDX components are configured in about thirty different places (client, admin console, registery, ICA file, Web Interface...), so it'd be nice to be able to configure everything related to user experience in the same place.
Reaction from competition has been what you'd expect. Some think that Citrix is just putting "lipstick on a pig" (their words), trying to dress up ICA and hide the fact that it's a twelve-year-old protocol. Citrix responds by saying, "sure, we created the baseline ICA a long time ago, but since then we've been enhancing it and adding other supporting capabilities, so comparing 'just' ICA to the competition is only looking at part of the solution."
Unfortunately for us, like all heavily-trafficked marketing terms, we're going to have to soon deal with our customers and managers who read about this new brand and want us to "install the HDX" for them.