Brian & Gabe were joined by Citrix's Peter Blum for today's show. The topic was client hypervisors, specifically Citrix XenClient.
Brian & Gabe were joined by Citrix's Peter Blum for today's show. The topic was client hypervisors, specifically Citrix XenClient. We talked about where it's used, how it's built, and what the future plans are.
Specific topics we discussed:
- The history of XenClient, and how it started as a "science project" at XenSource.
- Why creating a hypervisor for a laptop is much more difficult than a server hypervisor.
- How and why XenClient uses Linux device drivers.
- How Citrix worked with Intel and AMD for graphics.
- The difference between XenClient and XenClient XT.
- Why XenClient XT supports Nvidia graphics while regular XenClient does not.
- How to get XenClient running with Nvidia graphics.
- Why Brian said "you need a client hypervisor like you need a hole in your head."
- Why people haven't used desktop management tools in the past.
- Why people want to "hide" the client hypervisor from the end users.
- Why you can use a client hypervisor instead of ten different desktop management tools.
- Why Brian is afraid that XenClient on a laptop will make it weird and slow.
- How using a client hypervisor is like moving to a MacBook Air.
- The amount of overhead that XenClient requires.
- Why XenClient 2.1 was the "magic" release of XenClient that everyone started using.
- The hardware requirements and hardware compatibility list of XenClient.
- XenClient doesn't require vPro anymore.
- XenClient got a bad reputation around hardware compatibility because early use was by IT Pros who don't have mainstream laptops.
- Customers can buy laptops with XenClient preinstalled.
- How the XenClient disk image layering works.
- Is XenClient really ready for prime time?
- How the XenClient boot process works, including the Xen kernel, the Linux control domain, the UI VM, and the guest VMs.
- How people choose to use one VM versus multiple VMs.
- And more!
Brian: Good morning on Friday, January 20, 2012. You’re listening to Brian and Gabe Live. My name is Brian Madden. Thank you all for listening today. I’m in our studio in San Francisco and joining me in the studio, I think for the first time ever, is Gabe.
Gabe: How you doing? Yes, this is my first time in here. I think I shot a webcast or something in here, but I’ve never seen this radio show rigged that we have. And this is as real as it can feel I think from us. A product from us, radio show wise, this is as real as it gets.
Brian: I’ll take a picture because we have the headphones and the microphone; all this kind of stuff.
Gabe: We also have Peter Bloom joining us because today is actually a Brian and Gabe Live Special Edition, but only a podcast.
Brian: Yes, we call this thing a Special Edition, so today’s show is a sponsored show by Citrix to talk about XenClients, but it’s still Brian and Gabe acting like us. So, they wanted to bring out this conversation and have this conversation, but they’re not controlling the content of what we’re talking about today. It did give us, we said we want someone technical. If you talk about XenClient, you’ve got to give us Peter, and they gave us Peter.
Peter: And I’m happy to be here guys. It’s a special treat for me here, and it’s a special treat for me to be here with Brian and Gabe in the same room. I have to tell you for an outsider this feels pretty high tech. They have cool looking microphones and cameras and they have stuff on the walls. It looks professional. Usually when I’m doing stuff, it’s like a little cheesy mic in a conference room somewhere.
Gabe: We found a good deal on shelves for cool looking microphones, but really inside, there’s my first Sony.
Brian: This is a conference room; we just put this stuff on the wall. The Space Invader stickers really make it.
Gabe: And we have a live radio sign, a room in use sign.
Peter: Is that Ikea, the light up there?
Brian: That is and this year is some wax paper and paper clips.
Peter: I think some pictures would be good for the audience, but it’s nice.
Brian: And Peter, when I think of XenClient, I think of you. I said in the tweet that you’re the XenClient guy for Citrix. Is that a fair statement to say?
Peter: I’m certainly one of the guys. I think I’m the guy that people see externally a lot. So, I’ve been doing product management on this thing really since the beginning when it was just a demo we were showing to try and get the project going at Citrix. So, I think externally a lot of people see me, but there’s a bunch of us now at Citrix. We’re a whole product group.
Brian: You say we’re a whole product group, you mean XenClient itself is a separate?
Brian: It’s not really a Xen server product group?
Peter: No, it used to be this science project off to the side and we were kind of in the same group as Xen server and then last year, they actually made us our own product group, so now we’ve got a general manager and we’re staffing up.
Brian: How did this thing come to be? I don’t know if I’ve ever heard the XenClient story. Come on, there’s alcohol and late nights involved, right?
Peter: Yes. It was interesting. Even at Xen Source, I was at Xen Source, and Citrix bought Xen Source of course and I remember in 2005, when I first got to Xen Source, there were all these military customers coming around asking if we could take the Xen technology and put it on a laptops and desktops. We said definitely, we’re going to get there. We’ve got to the build the server thing first. So, at Xen Source, we focused on the server thing, but we always knew we wanted to take this technology and put it on laptops and desktops, so I think once Xen server got to a certain level of maturity, we decided let’s go, this is too easy. We’re done with that. Let’s move on to the next thing. Let’s put it on a laptop. It would have been easier to put it on a desktop actually, but we decided let’s do the hard thing and put it on a laptop.
So, it was really like Ian Pratt, this guy Zon, a couple of other people just building an early prototype. Enough that we could show people what it looked like, and it was really to show it to the Board of Directors and the executives at Citrix and say hey, can we have some more people to go build this thing. It worked. People immediately see it and I think they have a strong reaction. They thing oh, this is really cool, this is awesome technology. So, that kind of got the ball rolling and we added more people over the last couple of years. Now, we’re our own proper product group.
Gabe: How big’s that group?
Peter: I think we’re about 70 people now. It started out with three and now we’re up to 70. It’s really grown over the last couple of years.
Brian: Is it fair to say, I go all over the country and do these one-day desktop virtualization shows, and I’ve got a segment on a Client hypervisors and I always say that Client hypervisors are way more difficult than server hypervisors because, and I’m being a little bit passive aggressive towards “server” people because any idiot can virtualize a server. What? It’s a CPU memory, network and disc, how hard is that? It’s only four resources that you have to virtualize. On your Client, you’ve got all that, but then you’ve got peripherals and thumbprint readers and battery status and cameras and lid closings and you want special media keys and multitouch pads and all that kind of stuff. So, this is my idiot version of why Client hypervisors are hard. Is there any reality to that at all?
Peter: No, there is. I think things are more challenging on a laptop. You have to deal with batteries – we spent a lot of time, you mentioned the hot keys, each OEM has a different way of doing hot keys, and that took us a little while to nail. Then there’s things like webcams and you have to do audio, USB, and all this stuff, multitouch and things like that we’re doing now. All these things that don’t exist on a server that’s just sitting there humming away in a data center.
Brian: There’s a lot of things too that are philosophically difficult. What I mean is it’s not a technology limitation like Wi-Fi is a good example. So, in the server world, Wi-Fi, the host, the hypervisor essentially, the host gets on the network and then it kind of proxies the connections back. I think VM on a laptop; let the host get on the network and proxy that connection back. The problem with Wi-Fi, I need a UI for that. I need to show here’s all the networks I can see. Here’s the one sitting password, but if my hypervisor, my console session is doing that, what’s the UI to the user? Do you expose some stupid DOS to them? What about scenarios where people use WPI enterprise and only can be domain jointed to Figus, but that’s a VM. How do you do that? That’s just one of many examples.
Peter: Yes. I think wireless is a good one; that doesn’t exist in the data center, but it’s clearly something you’d want on a laptop, so the nice thing is there’s a lot of technology in Linux that we leverage to do things like wireless, to do things like power management. Of course, all the drivers, I think a lot of times people have this sense of we’re building our own device drivers for every single thing out there. We’re actually just using the Linux device drivers, and I think over the past three years, the stata, Linux on laptops is really improved pretty dramatically. So, that’s really helped us.
Gabe: Have you made any? Have you had to make any? You talked about multitouch support and things like that and I install Linux occasionally. I remember why I don’t want to use Linux and go back to Mac. It’s just because I’m old and stuck in my ways. But have you had to make anything just because it’s a little ahead of the curve?
Peter: There’s one thing where we’ve done some work and we’ve worked with people like Intel and AMD, that’s graphics. And really the reason is because we wanted to deliver this really native user experience where it felt like a regular laptop, and we could have done graphics which is what some of the other vendors did, but you draw a lot of power and the performance isn’t that great, so even playing hidef videos on some of the other solutions, it’s kind of jerky. And so we worked really closely with Intel and designed this plug-in architecture we call Surf Man. It’s the surface manager, like surface on the screen. And we worked with their really low level engineers and did some interesting stuff so that we could allow pretty much native tootie performance and allow one of the VM’s to have 3-D performance, open GL, DirectX, all that stuff. So, graphics is the one area where we’ve had to do some pretty interesting stuff, but I think the result is pretty good. We started with Intel and then we went the AMD folks who bought ATI and worked with them as well.
Gabe: How about the XT stuff, the XenClient XT, does that require additional complexity when it comes to drivers?
Peter: No, I think one of the things that the Xen architecture was built from the beginning is this side of disaggregation. So, what we do in the XT product and for those of you who don’t know, we’ve got two versions of XenClient; we’ve got XenClient which is for enterprise users and IT professionals. We sell it through Xen Desktop. Then we built this special version of XenClient called XT and we released it last year. That was interesting because there was a group of government agencies that approached us and said hey, this thing is awesome, we just need some special sauce because we’ve got these crazy security environments, so we actually built it to their spec essentially.
There’s some things there we did with Intel has this technology called TXT, trusted execution technology. So, we did some integration, so every time you boot the system it will check and make sure no one’s messed with anything. That was a little extra work, but it was also a great collaboration with Intel. They had been doing stuff and Linux around this technology, so it was pretty easy for us to adapt it. And for the driver piece, I was talking about disaggregation, what we did was we’d take all the networking guts out of the standard part of XenClient, we’d put it in this little VM on the side. So, it’s totally isolated.
Gabe: And then you can have it on multiple different secure networks?
Peter: Yes. We’ve got one little VM that just runs all the networking drivers and talks to the hardware. You can have a little VM’s that run VPM Clients, so you can connect to different networks. If you look at these physical environments, and I’ve actually never seen one, I’ve just heard about them because they’re in the high security environments, but these people have like six PC’s under their desk and they have six network cables and six monitors and keyboards. This product lets you have one box and two monitors.
Gabe: I’ve seen Think Client solutions that are like four think lines smashed on top of each other with a KVM on top, all wrapped in a box.
Brian: Duct-taped with a GSA code.
Peter: And then you charge $5,000.00.
Brian: Incidentally, while we’re talking about XenClient XT, like XT works within video graphics, but regular XenClient does not support NVidia for 3-D graphics, is that right?
Peter: Yes. One of the things that I mentioned with XT is this whole multimonitor thing. They have some pretty high-end graphics workloads. We don’t know what they are. I don’t really want to know what they are.
Brian: We can’t tell you why, but we need this.
Peter: So, what we can do is put an NVidia card in a desktop and we can dedicate that to one of the virtual machines. So, we’ve got support for that. The thing we don’t have right now is the ability to take that and split it between VM’s. We actually have – there’s a little trick. You can get NVidia running on the regular XenClient. When you boot up, just hit the escape. Hit the escape button and choose save graphics mode. You can get it running, you just can’t get external video going.
Brian: It’s 800x600 and 16 color.
Peter: No, it’s like VESA. There’s this VESA when you boot Windows for the first time, before you have a driver, it’s using that same stuff.
Brian: It didn’t occur to me, but you mentioned desktop for the high security stuff, XenClient XT is a desktop-based product, not a laptop because by definition, you’re so high security you’re not –
Peter: It is. It started out on the desktops, but what’s interesting is some of these guys came back and said hey, this is awesome; we want it on the laptop. It’s not like high security guy is going to go to Starbucks and catch up on his work. They just want to go down the hall to the conference room. They’re running around with notepads and taking notes. They just want to use something to take notes when they’re in a meeting. So, it’s mobility.
Brian: It’s in Wi-Fi at that point because they probably don’t have Wi-Fi___33.
Peter: I can’t get into sort of the details of what they’re doing.
Brian: If XT has Wi-Fi support, I guess we’ll know.
Peter: They’re simple. They just want to go down the hallway to a conference room and have a computer. That’s something they haven’t been able to do before, so that was interesting to see that. It certainly started with desktops and that’s where the most interest is.
Brian: Let’s kind of back up, we sort of jumped into some of these conversations about the product. I want to talk about client hypervisors in general. I think at Briform last year I said you need a client hypervisor like you need a hole in your head.
Peter: I remember that.
Brian: Because there’s all this stuff about well, we have this fantasy of having single image, it can be portable across everything, backend, client machines, all over the place. But then Client hypervisors require certain driver sets and then if you have different hardware, you turn on pass through, but then you need different drivers, and they say well, it can overbuild your drivers, if you’re overbuilding drivers, why not just use regular Windows. They say if you have a client hypervisor is more secure. But I can buy security for that. They said you can do updates, but I said I can do updates for that.
Everything they said Client hypervisors can do, I can do it. It’s actually virtual computer. I was at their office and attended one of their customer – they had a meeting where they had a bunch of customers come in. I kind of said something like look why do you need a client hypervisor when you can just use Windows overbuilding your drivers and then add in some encryption and add in some remote kill pill support and add in some security software and add in some remote management and add in some software. If you have all that, you don’t need a client hypervisor. And the virtual computer people were like yes, no shit. This is our selling points. I was like oh. I don’t know; I was coming from an old desktop standpoint. If you do this, this and this, then you don’t need it.
Gabe: These 17 things do the same thing that your one thing does.
Brian: So, they were like yes, that’s right. You just did our sales pitch for us.
Peter: I think that’s – I saw that in virtual visualization as well. When we started coming around in virtual virtualization, they were clearly running multiple workloads on one system. I said you can just run multiple applications on one copy of Windows or Linux and we can use systems management tools to deploy things. I said great, that’s like ten different tools. I’ve met very few customers who have really nailed server management. We see the same thing in desktop management. There’s a lot of people that have elements of some things, but they’re spending a lot of time and a lot of money and throwing a lot of people at it. And this just makes virtualization, it just makes everything simpler. I think what you saw from virtual computers is something that we learned really over the last half year.
We put out this technology, I’d say like a lot of the IT folks are really excited about it. They saw it and they were like that’s fricking cool, right. It took a while to figure out what are people really going to do with this. I think over the last year, we learned that and I think the other guys did as well. It’s funny seeing that a lot of the customers that are deploying this stuff, it’s just for a single virtual machine. They really want XenClient to be hidden. They don’t want the users to really know there’s a client hypervisor. So, it’s really this shim that makes it easier to deal with Windows on a laptop to do the things you were talking about, Brian.
Brian: I think that’s one of the keys for me that made it where I understand why people used client hypervisors because for them it was not about the VMness of it. It wasn’t about the virtual machine; it was a device management essentially. It was something that they’ve got all these – we all know and we’ll talk about this more later. We all know that VDI has a lot of great use cases and the terminals over base use cases, but even all said, I don’t know what potential users could be using VD in world, 10 percent or something like that. There’s a lot of traditional laptop based users out there, but if we can have an easy way to just – they’re all using devices and we can use this as our device management, then that’s the angle I’m thinking about.
Peter: Yes. A lot of the cool layering technology that we have with Xen desktop on the server where you can break apart the image and these different layers. We can do that on the client, with XenClient. Because you’re running outside of Windows, you can take it apart and assemble it in different ways, so a lot of people are also interested in – and we call it dynamic image mode, but the ability to pick apart the Windows image into the system disc and site wide apps, then you can have the user installed apps and you can have the user profile, and you can break it apart and kind of back it up separately and update different pieces. That’s cool. You can’t do that as well – you can’t do it with Microsoft stuff.
Brian: We’ll come back to that, but it’s interesting too. We look at why we use these things. Going back and saying if you buy these ten different tools, you can – you don’t need a Client hypervisor and you’re like yes. The other thing that occurred to me more recently was we as an industry; we had our chance at that. If all of these different tools do drive level encryption and software management and remote kill and all this kind of stuff. These products have been out for 20 years. If it’s now 2012, and your IT department is not doing the stuff today, it’s not like they’re going to run out tomorrow and say this is the year we’re going to buy the 12 products that are now in version 10 and do this now. So, if on the one hand we can say yes, it sucks that we’re still having this conversation 20 years later. But we are still having it, so if you’ve got to come 20 years later, maybe look at a different approach.
Peter: Yes. It’s simplicity. It’s a little check box instead of installing a whole software suite at the backend to do this encryption.
Brian: Here’s my ignorance and why I’m afraid of XenClient, and I’m probably speaking for a lot of people. I don’t want a client hypervisor on my laptop because it’s going to be not compatible and make it slow.
Peter: The level of overhead with something like XenClient is something less than ten percent across the board. I’d say last year we weren’t doing so well on battery stuff, so you really pay a penalty on battery, but we did a lot of work there. We worked very closely with Intel. The IO performance has always been stellar because that’s the stuff that kind of going back to your conversation of what Xen server does really well, we spent a lot of time working on networking and CPU and memory and making that all fast. So, really the last year was making things like battery performance and graphics and things like that. I’d say to the average user, you’re not going to feel XenClient. You’re not going to feel that it’s sluggish or much different than a regular system. Maybe you would feel a little bit if you’re like a highly tuned IT pro guy. The average user is not going to feel too much of a difference.
Gabe: We should do a placebo trial. Two laptops, one with Windows 7 native and one with Windows 7 and XenClient.
Brian: I use a MacBook Air. Do you remember, Gabe, the conversation you and I had when I bought this because I travel all the time, so I bought the Air, and in my version, in my mind, here’s how the conversation went. Brian, I got a MacBook Air and Gabe’s like you’re going to hate it. Look dude it’s so small. Man, it’s like half the speed of your existing laptop; you’re going to hate it. And I decided to try it anyway because it was sexy and everything, but the reality is I use Chrome and Office. On my MacBook Pro before, those two applications, I was never going over five percent CPU utilization. So, it’s true this MacBook Air is only half the speed, so now I never go over 10 percent CPU usage.
Gabe: You just forgot that I do more work on my computer.
Brian: Gabe still does work on his computer, that’s the difference. All of these cars today, a Honda Accord fuel cutoff at 85 mph and your BMI 5 series fuel cutoff at 100 mph, but the speed limit is 70, so really who the hell cares? So, I feel like that’s – More’s law still applies to computers, yet we’re not doing, let’s be real, we’re not buying laptops that are twice as fast as they were three years ago.
Peter: Look at Windows even. Windows 7 runs faster than the previous release. On the same hardware by itself. There’s plenty of CPU cycles left over.
Brian: I guess the thing is we’re not marketing in this to end users for the most part anyway. So, as long as the end user doesn’t notice it, it hasn’t slowed down enough.
Gabe: That’s a challenge there. That’s the Wi-Fi, exposing that to Windows in kind of the normal way. Exposing the battery percentage, that kind of stuff, the low power options, link closure, that’s what you were talking about before about the hard stuff to do with this. But doing it in such a way that the user doesn’t know that there’s a layer underneath is a challenge too because the user just wants to turn it on and it boots into Windows just like normal.
Peter: Like today with XenClient that’s out now, apart from –
Brian: What is XenClient, the what is the latest one?
Peter: It’s 2.1. What’s interesting in terms of people deploying it, that’s the magic. It wasn’t 2; it was 2.1, which makes sense. I’m not going to do the 2; I’m going to wait for the .1.
Brian: Because everyone knows, everyone used to say never do a V1, so I’ll wait for V2, so now all the vendors know that, so the beta release is V1 and the real one is V2, so now the users have caught onto that, now they’re waiting for V2.next.
Brian: I didn’t mean to interrupt you. You were talking about the improvements.
Gabe: You were talking about making it feel like a regular laptop.
Peter: Yes, even for 2, we did a lot of work around user experience, so before you’d boot up XenClient and you get into RUI and then you’d see all the different VMs which if you’re an IT pro, which is where we were starting, that’s cool. Here’s my five, seven VMs and I’ve got all the different ones. I can turn them on and off. If you’re in accounting or you’re a sales person, you don’t want to see that, you just want to hit the power button and see Windows. If you turn off Windows from within Windows, you don’t want to see RUI either, you want the laptop to turn off when you close the lid. So, that’s where we spent a lot of time making it feel like a regular laptop. The last thing we’re working on now is the wireless control piece.
Right now, you get a little message, you hit a hot key and you get what really looks pretty similar to the Windows wireless interface and you can select your network, but that’s really the last thing. Then the user is never going to have to see XenClient, they can just live within Windows. The feedback we got from the early adopters of the technology, they were willing to train their users on that one thing, but they said look, if you can just keep them in Windows all the time, then we can go much broader with this stuff.
Brian: I think when XenClient 1 came out, I wrote some kind of article that I remember Simon was working at Citrix at the time because he gave me a lot of shit for it where I was like look at all these release notes, there’s like 50 little oh, you can’t do this, you’ve got this CD Rom drive, the audio doesn’t work, this doesn’t work. None of those on its own was a showstopper, but I felt like there was a little like Death 5000 cuts where I was thinking oh my God, if I’m an end user, an IT pro responsible for that kind of stuff, all of these little things, I just have these nightmares that my users will find all this, I’m going to have to support all these goofball crap. Now, that was a couple of years ago.
Peter: I think that’s really a function of product maturity. I think one of the things that happened with XenClient is we made a lot of noise before we even released it. There was a tremendous amount of interest which was great but I think the expectations were a little high given that this was the first release of the software. It’s a 1.0. So, now the product’s matured. We’re at the 2.1 release. A lot of the rough edges are gone now. So, that’s why we’re seeing this is the point where people are really starting to deploy.
Gabe: It came out at a time when there were other people talking about doing it. I think Virtual Computer was the only one doing it. Who’s the other one? Nuyoklea, but they went away pretty quick after that. People had these grand visions for what they thought they could do with it, but then as time went by, we started to realize that these things don’t necessarily make sense. Users don’t care about multiple VMs. We do as IT guys, but not, when it boils down to it, not that much. And people can still use XenClient or any other plain hypervisor for that if they want to. That requires such a high-end laptop to pull that stuff off.
Brian: That’s a good question. So, why are we now – that’s another fear I have is as an IT professional, I have all the laptops, they’re already there and so, there’s this hypervisor which has certain hardware requirements. Is that where are we now, sort of a hardware compatibility list with XenClient?
Peter: In Version 2 that was probably one of the other things we really focused on was expanding the hardware compatibility. Even in the first release, we had focused on the volume enterprise laptop, we worked with Dell, HP and said what are the – if you’ve maybe got ten laptops, but there’s really two or three that they really sell the most of to enterprise customers, so we focused on those. In the Version 2 release, we supported lower end systems, so smaller companies tend to buy the cheaper laptops, and so we removed the strict feed pro requirements, so we were able to run on lower end systems. Then we also went upmarket as well, so we started supporting workstation class systems.
Then we added a bunch of other OEMs. There’s people in Fujitsu, Toshiba, and Panasonic that are maybe not as popular in the US, but they’re certainly a footprint in Asia Pacific and Armenian, so we added these other OEM’s as well. I’d say at this point for the people deploying XenClient, they’re fine because they’re already buying these systems, so they haven’t really had to alter the way they buy systems. I think we got a bad reputation early on because the first people using it were the IT pros. If you look at the IT pro laptop, it’s not the same as the accounting guy’s laptop. He’s got an alien ware laptop or it’s the totally high spec version with all this crazy stuff. In the early days, there was a bit of a feeling like oh, it doesn’t run on my laptop, but for the actual customer deployments, it really hasn’t been an issue because it’s a Lenovo X221 or a Dell Latitude. It’s the stuff that people buy anyways.
Gabe: Can people buy these from the manufacturers with XenClient on them already? Or is that an option now when you do it or do you have to call and do it.
Peter: Yes. You can call Dell; they’ll do it and load it.
Gabe: It sounds like it’s an infomercial question, but I actually care.
Peter: You can call Dell at 1-800...
Gabe: So, Peter, Dell will install XenClient for you.
Brian: So, is it easier to buy a laptop with XenClient on it than a laptop with Windows not installed?
Brian: If you call, that’s what I was looking at the other day for OEM license costs. You can call and get a special department.
Gabe: I think you might with Linux on it.
Peter: One of the things we realized with the whole OEM loading it up there is for the most part people reload their laptops. We’ve heard from different people; 70 to 80 percent of the enterprises blow away whatever the OEM’s load on their and load up their own images. So, what Dell will do is put XenClient on there and put the customer image on top of it. So, you can have the OEMs load your images and drop ship you the laptop.
Brian: Which is how they do it in traditional laptops. That’s cool. You can still get your custom image on top of XenClient.
Peter: Yes. It was interesting to kind of find that out. I knew that most people reload their laptops, but to hear from the OEMs that 70 to 80 percent just blow away because they put a lot of doodads and things on there. But enterprises have their own loads, so they load it on.
Gabe: They’ve been offering that service – I used to work for Innocom that had a custom-built computer department that sold Compaq and HP and they used to offer the custom build thing too. I can’t think of a company I’ve worked for that took advantage of that. Maybe if it’s a 10,000-person company or something, but I’ve never worked for a company that big.
Peter: It tends to be the bigger – if you’re buying 1,000 laptops, it would make sense.
Gabe: I’ve worked where they get a pallet full. They get 20 or 30 in, and even that, maybe it’s a make work thing where they just Tom, you go do this now. I don’t know if that costs extra money to have that kind of thing done.
Peter: I don’t think it costs any more than having them load your enterprise.
Brian: Going back to XenClient itself and how it works. You talked about Linux because Linux, you can use Linux drivers, but what does that mean exactly? Is XenClient, is it this hypervisor, does it run Linux? Does it put Leno in a VM?
Peter: There’s this thing called the Xen hypervisor which is this little pretty skinny layer of software.
Brian: And it’s the same for the server?
Peter: Same for the server, so we use the same architecture across Xen server and XenClient. I always describe it as booting up the system. You hit the power button, the first thing that happens after the little HP or Dell logo comes up, is we load Xen up and that guy’s job –
Brian: Xen up you’re saying, not Xen app.
Peter: The Xen hypervisor starts. This thing comes up on the system and its job is to divvy up the memory, the CPU to keep the virtual machine separated and cut up the hardware on the system. The next thing that loads up is this little Linux VM called the control demand. That then initializes the hardware like the graphics, the networking and all that. So, that’s where the drivers actually sit. We just use a Linux kernel to drive a lot of that. Then this other little VM pops up and that’s – we call it the UIVM which provides user interface. So, if you’re just booting up into the XenClient UI, it’s actually a separate little Linux virtual machine. Then on that XT product, we have a couple of other VMs that boot up that have the networking and things like that in them. Then the Windows VM boot up. There little Linux VMs, it’s not like 2 gigs of stuff.
Brian: So, this is not – Linux itself has its own hypervisor, this KVM and things like that. Do you ever run into people – Xen is a different thing from KVM.
Peter: There’s probably three different virtualization technologies at least within the Linux kernel. Xen is one of them now. KVM is one that I think if you’re a Linux developer, you might use KVM, but we don’t really see Windows guys. That’s one of the things we did with Xen server and even XenClient is you can get the open source stuff up and running, but that’s if you’re like a diehard Linux guy and you’re going to put all this stuff together. Here, you put in the CD, install it, it’s friendly, get it up and running, it’s for Windows people.
Brian: Let’s go back to the product. You mentioned 2.1 is the latest. We’re recording this in January 2012. You mentioned better hardware compatibility lists, better all-around support for different scenarios, where are we in the life cycle of 2.1, do we have more? Obviously, you do more versions but is it like next month, there’s a big release?
Peter: We have these trade shows every year. BriForum. Most people have followed and have figured out the cadence of when products come out. It’s usually tied to our synergy shows, at least the announcement. If you come to Synergy San Francisco, you’ll learn more about – it’s in May – so if you come there, you’ll learn more about the next version. What we did, 2.1 just came out in December, so that released; 2.0 came out over the summer and then 2.1 was really just a quarter later. And 2.0 was the hardware compatibility, making it easier to use, so it was really set up for regular business users. Then also the backend. A lot of times, it was interesting when XenClient first came out, people said oh, Client hypervisor, the thing lets you run multiple VM’s on the system, but we have this thing called the synchronizer which is our backend management delivery system and that’s the thing where you can host images and send them out to XenClient.
You can set all the polices, disk encryption, remotely killing things or not allowing you to use USB devices. One of the things we also did in the 2.0 release was also a lot of investment in the backend system. Just getting it ready for the production deployments. So, we did a little more there in 2.1, we introduced this dynamic image mode, and that’s the piece we were talking about a little earlier where you can layer the operating system. And 2.1 was bug fixed, stability enhancements. Then we also did localization. I forget all the languages, but it the normal five that people tend to do. So, what we saw is a lot of people were poking at the 1.0 release and checking it out and giving us feedback, and 2.0 is where we got people doing PSEs and pilots. Now, we’re at 2.1, people are actually deploying this stuff. It’s interesting to see.
I mentioned a lot of people are running 1 VM, but they’re still, certainly people running multiple VM’s. I’d say maybe 70 percent.
Gabe: Who are they being deployed to? I would imagine the multiple VM people and maybe developers, things like that that need a dev VM?
Peter: Yes, there’s a lot of IT pros and test dev people, they were even using the version 1 release to do that stuff. There’s a couple of interesting things we have seen. There’s this company Swisscom in Switzerland. They’re a service provider and they did hosted Xen app and Xen desktop, and they announced this thing a couple of months ago, they’re doing managed laptops and desktops for XenClient. So, they actually host all the backend infrastructure and it’s called Smart Top. Their base offering is we’ll manage your Windows corporate VM for you and put it on XenClient systems at the customer sites, and they host the backend. But they’re actually selling as an additional option more VMs. So, you get started with one and you can add additional ones.
The personal VM is the thing that they’re really seeing. We’ve seen; there’s a doctor’s office where they have a bunch of different clinics, and they have a personal environment for the doctors where they can put all their stuff. There’s a lot of laws, especially in the US around patient records, and then each clinic has a different set of applications. They have different VMs for different clinics, so we still see multiple VM use cases and a big one we’ve seen which is vertical specific is consulting companies. Where they have a lot of consultants that go out to customer sites.
Gabe: Oh, so they can put the customer image on and then use their certified image with antivirus?
Peter: Yes, that’s what happens. They were taking their corporate laptops and they have whatever their VPN is and their virus scan, and then they go to customer A and they’re like if you want to go on our network, it has to have this virus scanner and you have to use this VPN client, and they were clobbering their corporate computing environments, and then they’d go to the next customer and they’d have to throw their stuff on there. That’s been kind of vertical specific, but it’s interesting to see the multiple VM thing there.
Gabe: I wish I had that.
Brian: We’re laughing because our background is consulting –
Gabe: I was responsible for bringing a virus into a company and infecting a network file server. The antivirus guy was so pissed off. He’s one of the best friends now. So, I was installing a two-server presentation server implementation, so my laptop had something on it that got out there. They didn’t lose any data or anything, but I remember coming in that day and he was so pissed off. But eventually I went to work for that company full time, so they weren’t – the company wasn’t mad, just that guy.
Peter: And he got over it.
Gabe: Yes, that would have been nice to have this kind of thing back then.
Brian: Are the people using it – I’m curious as to how they’re using it. Are they replacing existing desktops or they thinking of it as extensions of desktop virtualization?
Peter: Most of the time, a lot of the people using it early on are existing Citrix customers, not a big surprise there. We either see Xen app people for whatever reason didn’t adopt VDI or don’t have users that fit that use case, so they have a bunch of laptop users and they’re interested in using it on laptops. Really, like XenClient laptop, think that in your head. We see Xen desktop customers who have done VDI deployments and they’re getting coverage over knowledge workers or day extenders, stuff like that. Then they want the same benefits for their laptop users, so they’re adopting it as well.
Brian: Can we talk a bit about how XenClient integrates with Zen desktop? Because I know that Xen desktop, one of the criticisms of that is that it’s like 15 different products that have one skew, so I know when XenClient first came out, there was this synchronizer that does the disc images, but XenClient had different disc images and provisioning server which is different images than Xen desktop data center side, and the synchronizer was just a XenClient thing and not a Xen desktop thing.
Gabe: And the guys who were looking for offline VDI weren’t happy. The ones that are because it wasn’t quite –
Peter: Yes. I think the whole offline VDI thing –
Gabe: I think it’s fizzled away.
Peter: Yes, it’s fizzled, and I think –
Brian: I think offline VDI is kind of a misnomer to begin with because people thought –
Gabe: Check out your virtual machine to your desktop and check it back in or synchronize back in and then you can access the same desktop from both. Even if that’s possible, the need for that seems to have dwindled.
Peter: The offline VDI thing treated laptop users and mobility as an edge case. The idea was most of the time you’re on your VDI and then you go on a business trip and you spend three hours copying the thing down. If you give someone a laptop, they’re not going to give it back to you. They’re a laptop user. So, when we built this thing –
Brian: I’m sorry, I think of a guy, the offline VDI person at the company and they have – their cubicle has all this laptop charging stations that are all empty and that guy’s sitting there sad. Guys, can I have my laptop back?
Peter: At the end of the day of experiences, it’s a laptop. It just feels like a laptop. It runs like a laptop. You don’t need a network connection. I think there’s a lot of use cases where you’re always on network. You’re either in the office or at home, VDI is great. But if you’re a laptop user, you’re not always going to have a network, so why would you give that back? Why wouldn’t you use it? So, I think we built a whole system around just you’re always going to be on the laptop. Now, what we’re doing is allowing you to flip between modes. There’s another vendor that does more of the check in check out thing, and you have to say okay, I’m done with my laptop; I’m going to check it in and copy everything back.
Then you can go on to the VDI thing or if you’re done with VDI thing, you want to go back to laptop, it’s just kind of – you stop using it and then you have to wait a while to copy it and then you can start using it again. I think what we really see is people just want to get their stuff anywhere. I’m on my laptop maybe 80 or 90 percent of the time, but then sometimes I just want to take my IPad home and leave the laptop at the office or go down to the conference room and just bring my IPad, so what we’re doing is really allowing you to instantly flip between the different modes. So, yes, from an administrative standpoint, it’s not like a single console and a single thing on the backend right now. But what we can do with two technologies, one is a Xen app has this thing called follow me apps where you can install the Citrix receiver on your XenClient system and put it in the on the VDI deployment which is what people usually do with Xen desktop. If you pick apps in one place, it’ll put them in the other place automatically, so you can keep your apps in the same place.
Then we bought this company Share File, who is similar to Drop Box, but they also have this thing called desktop sync where you can take my documents, sync it up to the cloud and sync it up basically anywhere. And the end result is that you can be on your XenClient laptop, and then you can just leave it there running. You don’t have to check the backend and you go grab your IPad and log into your VDI session and all your apps and all your data is there. You can just flip between them, I do this, and there’s a bunch of people at Citrix now doing it. Now that we’ve bought Share File, we’re starting to talk about it more where you can get your stuff anywhere. Even Share File, you can go to their website and download files.
Brian: I’m confused about this, what is that story you just told, this is exactly how my life is now, but what does that scenario have to do with XenClient?
Peter: Going back to XenClient laptop, so people want to use –
Brian: Going back to laptop, that’s a good use case for a laptop in general, but –
Peter: It’s sort of like the executive use case. So, we’re seeing this a lot with executives, they have their laptops, but now they want to add, they’re not replacing their laptops with IPad, they’re just adding an IPad to the equation. So, you can use XenClient to make Windows nice and easy to deal with on a laptop. All the security stuff, making user to deploy Windows, control –
Brian: You’re outlining, here’s a scenario where there’s still a good use case for a laptop even in the world of Xen app and IPad and all that kind of stuff. By the way, if you’re using a laptop, it ought to be a XenClient laptop because you’re Peter Bloom.
Gabe: It’s desktop management though.
Peter: It makes it easier to deal with Windows, so you do that regardless. Then saying hey, Citrix has a solution. It’s not just one product; it’s a set of products that gives you the solution. Where I’ve started talking to people about it and they’re like hey, I’ve got this executive and he keeps pestering me, he wants all this stuff on his IPad, but he also still uses his laptop. So, it’s this use case across products, it’s kind of gelling with people right now. I think because the IPad are so popular, especially all the executives running around with them. The reality is they can’t create their power points and do all their stuff on an IPad, they still need their laptops for that and I still see people traveling around with their laptops, but they want the flexibility of switching back and forth and not thinking about do I have to sync things, it’s just always have your stuff in both.
Brian: How integrated is XenClient with Xen desktop today? Are they kind of separate?
Peter: Yes. That’s what I was saying, on the backend, for the IT admin, there’s still going to be separate stuff that you have to do. Xen app can provide the apps across them, but you’ll still have the Xen desktop console and the XenClient console.
Brian: But this disc image, I can’t use the same disc image for XenClient that I use for Xen desktop?
Peter: No, not today. We’re really approaching it from let’s make the user experience better first and go down the stack from user profile down. Like most customers have 10, 20, sometimes 100 different images. So, we’re saying okay, you can get down to two images; you’ve got your XenClient image and your Xen desktop image.
Brian: Is that realistic to have a single image for all your XenClients?
Peter: Yes. I think that’s fine. You can do that today. In fact, that’s –
Brian: They cross different hardware and everything?
Peter: Yes. So, that’s something you can do today. Yes, you’re still going to need a Xen desktop image, so for the IT admin, there’s two tools, but what you can do now is start and give the user this unified experience which we’re starting from there, and over time, you’ll see us bring the consoles together and eventually, you’ll have a single image that goes across this thing. We’re using at least with Xen server, it’s pretty easy because we’re using Xen in the datacenter and then we’re using XenClient on the laptop. And even doing hyperV is pretty easy because I just use VHDs. When we go to UVM where it goes between them, you have to change it to VMDKs and all that. It’s a little more complex. We’ll definitely do that; it’s just a matter of time. The point was for the end users, you can give them what is a pretty seamless experience today.
Brian: One of my big critiques against Citrix and the XenClient and the whole position, I feel like Citrix positions XenClient to existing Citrix Xen desktop customers, so what I mean is it’s like I almost phrase it, it looks like the datacenter going out. So, you’ve got the datacenter desktops, whether it’s Xen app or Xen desktop, then let’s extend that to laptops. Whereas that’s sort of the opposite of more traditional systems management or device management where they’re going after the more desktop not virtual, not datacenter person saying this is device management. I think that’s, for example, the way virtual computer is going after it. So, virtual computer is coming from the desktop in, Citrix is coming from the datacenter out. But is Citrix missing market because you’re not –
Peter: I’ll tell you why we’re doing that. It’s definitely on purpose. If you’re a traditional shop, you’re using traditional systems management tools, and Citrix sales guy comes knocking on the door and says hey, this is all wrong; you should be doing it that way. The customer has to then go through the whole process of deciding what they’re doing today isn’t working and they want to switch to something else. If you’re doing a VDI deployment, you’ve already made that decision. You’ve already said I want to do desktops differently. It’s much easier to go back and say great, you’re getting this value for this set of workers, now you can get the same value for the other ones. I think we’ve found it’s much more efficient. We’re starting out, just go back to our existing customers who have seen the value of something like Xen desktop and Xen app, and now extend it to other things.
We could go out with this will replace everything sort of message, maybe at some point we will, but really today, we’re going after the existing base that’s already decided. And even if you look at some of the other vendors in this space, they started out with this is a better way of doing desktop management, and now you see that they’re more positioning against VDI because I think they’ve also come to the same realization that it’s much easier to get in when someone’s already decided there’s a problem and they’re going to make a change.
Brian: I guess that goes back to what we were saying before where these traditional desktop management, they’ve had 20 years to get their shit together. So, if they haven’t transformed the way they do desktops in the past 20 years, at this point then a client hypervisor is just a better mousetrap, but they’re not using a system center or client management suites or if they’re not doing all this stuff anyway, then it’s just another something else that they’re not going to use.
Gabe: Hitting the existing guys gives you a champion too. These guys who can go out there and say hey, this stuff really works.
Peter: Sales folks, they want to be efficient.
Brian: And from a licensing standpoint, Xen desktop now has made a transition to where it’s a per user, I know there are, a VDI only edition based on concurrency. But I imagine most of the current Citrix customers are buying one license for each user in their environment. And then XenClient as part of Xen desktop, from a license. If you have all these licenses for Xen desktop, are all editions in Xen desktop include?
Peter: It’s enterprise and higher, so enterprise and platinum. So, that whole scenario I was giving like using an IPad and a XenClient laptop, you buy one license for your user and you can do that scenario.
Brian: So, let’s go to – we have a whole bunch of comments or questions people have asked, so let’s go through these. I’m just going to look at these, I haven’t read these yet. Dan Brinkman, Desktop Virtualization Drinking Association. Show up in Denver and tell him you’ll be there. He’s asking Windows 8 desktop hyperV integration plans. How are people going to using this? And backstory for our listeners, Microsoft announced a Windows 8; there will be a hyperV for Windows 8 which is essentially saying Windows 8 will have the option of a built in hypervisor, so dun, dun dun.
Peter: I think people see client hypervisor, oh, that must mean XenClient is dead.
Brian: I probably wrote that.
Peter: But I think if you look at XenClient, there’s three use cases. There’s IT guys and test dev people running multiple VMs. There’s making it easier to manage Windows on the laptop, which we talked about a lot, just one VM, just making it easier. And then there’s the high security XT thing. If you look at what Windows is doing with hyperV on Windows 8, what they’re really doing is bringing the hyperV from the server over to the client stuff and they did a couple critical things like sleep and resume support. But they’re really just positioning it for test and development use. It doesn’t have audio and USB and high performance graphics and all this stuff. So, it’s more like, at this point, from what we can see publicly, it looks like virtual PC plus. So, they’re really going after that first case which is test dev, IT professionals running multiple VMs. That’s what we give XenClient away for free.
The other thing we’re going after to make it easier to deal with Windows on a laptop and the high security stuff, that’s not what they’re positioning it for right now. I think Windows 8, there’s not much overlap. As they invest and continue to invest in that platform, we’ll totally support it. Any relevant client hypervisor out there, we’ll support it, just like on the backend with Xen desktop, we support hyperV and VM ware and Xen server. We’ll do the same thing on the client side. Because we built a lot of cool technology with the synchronizer and all the image layering and all that stuff that we can apply to different client hypervisors. It’s just what’s there in Windows 8 right now isn’t enough for us to build that on top.
Gabe: I love it. Years ago I wrote that the hypervisor I feel will become a commodity over time, and that the real moneymaker, the real killer app with virtualization is going to be about the management. And we’re very, very slowly going in that direction. I think I wrote that in 2008. It’s been four years. Someday.
Brian: Did you just call yourself out on that? I wrote that.
Gabe: I did write that. But there were people that said I was dumb. Okay, so I took offense to it because I was young. I was green in this blogger world.
Brian: Another question. Any plans of utilizing Citrix receiver for XenClients as a thin client? They say Next Top which is Virtual Computer’s product, it can do something similar and it would nice to utilize existing workstations that fall under SA instead of having a new hardware or paying for VDA.
Peter: I get what he’s asking. We have customers doing that today, they’re building little Linux VMs that just have – because we have Linux support now, that was another thing we did in Version 2. They’re building little thin client VMs where it boots up and lets you connect. We’ll probably add that to the product, we’ve had a – not a ton of people asking for it, but we’ve had enough people asking for it that we’ll put it in. So imagine this is not for the one that wants to totally hide Windows, but for the people who want to see the multiple VMs. You have one VM which is your corporate environment or your personal environment and then you have another one that’s a little skinny Linux thing with a Citrix receiver in it. It connects you into Xen desktop. We have a little demo VM we use internally that does that.
Gabe: Does the situation exist still where I’m thinking maybe in the XenClient XT world where you’ve got the full on Windows that you can access on one network and then the small Linux thin client VM on another network. Can we still overlay those windows? So we can have them seamlessly integrate with the Windows?
Peter: We have that seamless Windows stuff where you can have apps come from other places. We put that in there, not a lot of people actually use it. We demo’d a lot and people say that’s cool, but then I think people just prefer just to switch between Windows. For XT you have multiple monitors. We did some cool stuff with XT where you can be on this monitor and just move the mouse to the edge of the monitor and it flips the keyboard over the other one. I think people, they prefer that. We haven’t seen – it’s funny, people get really, they’re very polarized about that feature. They either love it or they totally hate it and they’re like it’s totally useless, I don’t know why you’d ever use this.
Brian: One of the things, and we’re starting to cover this whole consumerization thing a lot more and people are talking about BYO and having separate work VMs versus personal because they can still use Facebook. In a lot of conversations, we’ve found that a lot of users prefer two separate screens. What we thought was a worst use case is something like that the mental switch, I’m in work and I’m in personal. Even if it’s only on one monitor and they’re flipping back and forth, that’s something that a lot of people are starting – even the rank and file employees just prefer to have the two separate spaces for working as opposed to co-mingling and working together.
Peter: A lot of people have their work PC, maybe it’s something they leave at work most of the time, and then they’ve got something at home as well. So, I think you’re right; they kind of had that model in their head. That’s something that surprised us. We thought everybody would just want to have all this stuff merged in, but we learned that people are fine with having it separate. I have my own personal VM, and if I’m going to go to Facebook, I’ll tell you guys I actually just launch IE in my corporate VM and go to Facebook. When I’m doing tax stuff or saving all my utility bills and things like that, then I boot up my personal environment and I keep all the data separate.
Gabe: It was in client that used to have, in V1 at least, when you did do the seamless integration between the two that had the green border around it.
Peter: Yes, so you could see this is one from the other VM.
Gabe: So, I can see if somebody wants to have their personal screen and their work screen, at least there’s some sort of visual indication there. If there’s a green border around the window, then it’s personal or corporate, but I agree, I just want one screen for each.
Brian: No, Google bought Green Boarder right? There was a company called Green Border that put the green border that made it a secure browser. I think that was Rose’s company who now does that blue stack thing which is at City Six, at android apps at X City Six which also demoed. But anyway, that’s still an option in client?
Peter: Yes, you can change the color even if you want purple, blue, thicker, or thinner.
Brian: Or if you’re a tech target, teal.
Peter: Is that the official tech target color?
Brian: That’s the official tech color and if you type in teal and hit Google images, you will see plenty of images of very happy people from 1992 enjoying their teal clothing.
Gabe: We worked for two companies in the late 90’s that both incorporated teal into their logo.
Brian: We thought once teal fell out of favor, great, never again work for a teal company.
Gabe: In the late 90’s, we thought it was plain.
Peter: I think you need some teal in this room. I wouldn’t really know. I guess there’s a little bit.
Gabe: There’s a container I think.
Brian: There’s probably a pantone color we can buy. So, another question. Does McAfee Deep Safe compete or compliment XenClients?
Peter: It doesn’t compete.
Brian: What is Deep Safe?
Peter: Deep Safe is – McAfee came out with this thing, I’m not an expert on technology, but it’s like some code that runs outside of Windows that can watch like memory to see if a virus –
Brian: That’s on a separate VM right?
Peter: They call it a memory visor, so they’re not calling it a hypervisor; they’re calling it a memory visor because it doesn’t depriviledge the operating system and create a VM. It’s just something that loads very early in the Windows boot process.
Gabe: It’s a TSR.
Peter: That was a little flashback. Yes, it’s like this thing that runs outside of Windows and watches memory and can do stuff. So, it’s not competing, they’re not trying to run multiple VMs or make it easier to manage Windows, they’re doing it for security things. And I think what you’ll see is XenClient and Client hypervisors give you a different kind of vantage point to the operating system. So, you can watch Windows from outside of it. There’s some products in Xen open source so you can watch memory and watch IO, and so we’re starting to talk to some people about opening up XenClient, so that they can put their stuff in a little VM and it can watch everyone and see if someone is doing something in memory that they shouldn’t do. It’s complementary I think. It’s not something that competes with us. At this point in time, it doesn’t all run together. Over time, I assume –
Brian: That’s the ultimate. I think Ron Oglesby wrote something about client hypervisors, I want to say it was like five years ago when he talked about that, having that separate VM that just did antivirus. I think they had that in the server now right?
Brian: So, it is not yet on?
Peter: You can use the McAfee Moose stuff; you can use it on XenClient as well. It’s just that the reason they’re doing it on the server is density. You don’t want to run a virus scanner in 80 different VMs. So, the density argument isn’t really there on XenClient because you have a couple of VMs. The nice thing is it runs outside of Windows, so the first thing a really smart virus is trying to do is shut off the virus scan or the firewall, all that junk. If you run it outside of Windows, you can’t attack that, so it’s also more secure. You’ll see more of that in the future from vendors plugging into our stuff, maybe some of the other vendors as well.
Brian: Another question from the audience is are you working with Ian Pratt and Simon Crosby to support Bromium’s upcoming release?
Peter: I know Ian and Simon well, we certainly have discussions. I think they’re pretty early on in building their product. Once they get it out there and they get some customers, we’ll certainly work with them on making sure the products work together, but they’re still in stealth mode, so they’re not really telling people what they’re doing.
Brian: You mentioned earlier that Xen – this is XenClient initiative, XCI, I think which is like an open source client hypervisor?
Peter: Yes, so Xen, the core for Xen server and XenClient is an open source project, so it’s the guys like Ian and Simon and Kieran and some of those guys from Xen Source that they founded Xen Source to kind of commercialize the Xen project, but the base is open source, so what’s cool is we can work with Intel. We can work with AMD, we can work with all these guys and the core of our system is open, so they can get in there and extend it in different ways. One of the reasons we got interest in the XT product is because we weren’t a black box. Like the very core of our system, it’s open source and we’ve got a big security community, people contributing stuff and so it’s this real well known code base. So, XCI is sort of a side project off of Xen open source.
Brian: So, nothing to do with XenClient?
Peter: It’s related. It’s just a subproject that’s more focused on client hypervisor, so we put stuff that we do. We’re really good about putting our stuff back in open source.
Brian: XenClient itself, is it open source or its free? I know you can download it.
Peter: There’s a free version. I mentioned those different usages, so the IT pros who want to run multiple VMs on their own system, that’s free, you can go get that. We want to get you hooked and say hey, I’m going to put it on all my user systems and buy the synchronizer and all that.
Brian: When you download it, can it install – if I have a Windows computer, my Windows computer already, can I PTV that and install XenClient under it or do I have to blow it away?
Peter: There’s a process. It’s fine for IT pros, if you know what you’re doing, you can Xen convert and save your stuff and put XenClient on and put it back. It’s not something the average user would do, so what we’re seeing with people deploying the technology is that they’re doing it with their hardware refreshes. I wouldn’t come in and say you should take your 20,000 laptops and retrofit XenClient on them. What we’re really seeing is most people refresh over three years. So, we’re saying get into the refresh cycle. That’s how most people do migrations now. It’s just too much of a pain to go migrate from XP to Windows 7 on existing laptops.
Brian: That’s what we’re doing at our company. So, we talked about release cycle and you hinted that Synergy is happening in May and we’ll hear more, but can you give us some previews.
Peter: What we’re doing?
Gabe: Looking at 3.25, 22.
Brian: First of all, XenClient, the names are based on Family Guy? The code names?
Brian: So, there was Brian and Stewie.
Peter: Glenn is our release that may be happening this first half of the year. But we’re switching to beer names.
Gabe: I thought it had gone away.
Peter: People might have heard that rumor.
Brian: Was the Family Guy thing, was that you?
Peter: It was this guy Christoff and Romanov, two guys I worked with closely, big Family Guy fans. So, that’s where it came from. I think we ran out of reasonable character names. There’s some pretty sketchy characters. And a lot of our engineers are in Cambridge, and they go out to the pub a lot, so they’re like let’s use beer names. I said yeah, beer names. It’s like UK beers, but we’re doing a small LCM release for client Miller Lite. It’s a small release. Abbot and Bombardier and stuff like that. Eventually we’ll get around to Corona and things like that.
Brian: This is great because now you can never ever run out of names.
Peter: I wonder how many beers there are?
Gabe: Someday can you do blogger names?
Peter: Sure, we can do that. In fact, we had a Brian release. That might have been you even.
Gabe: Or a white dog on a cartoon dog.
Brian: I have taken credit for that. Also, I play those anagram generators and if you do my Brian Madden, the whole name, one of the things you can spell is inmate standard brew. So, I almost want to become a brew master just so I can create a beer called inmate standard. So, I’d like to put that out there.
Gabe: They have places you can go and brew your own beer.
Brian: I’d like to see XenClient Inmate Standard.
Peter: All right, I’ll put that on the list.
Brian: I don’t want to get away from the question, besides switching to beer names; I don’t know how deep you can get into specifics –
Peter: I can talk a little bit. We were talking about the user experience, so I think we’re pretty much there. There’s the one thing which is the wireless control, so I think what you’ll see is the next major release will really be something where you don’t have to see XenClient at all for regular end user.
Gabe: Is that exceptionally difficult the wireless thing? Because that was the last thing Virtual Computer added.
Peter: Yes. I haven’t seen that yet in their latest stuff.
Gabe: I mean like the most recent – they had all these other things and then this feature was in there. Maybe it was a demo that I saw, but it seems like it’s the last thing.
Brian: In the system tray.
Peter: Yes, it’s complex. I think it is complex. We’ve had guys looking at it for a while, but we’ve got some special sauce we think will make this pretty cool.
Gabe: I just wondered why. It seems to be a trend.
Peter: I think also just learning like over the last year really what people really want to do. It surprised us that people just want to run one VM and make it easier to deal with Windows on a laptop. That was something we had to learn, and then we really started focusing on let’s make it so you hide XenClient.
Brian: How about on a Mac?
Peter: I was waiting for that one.
Brian: Can I put it out there? I don’t want to own a Mac because I’m perfectly fine with my one OS and my not Windows life. So, I know people are going to ask that.
Peter: It’s a very popular question. We shut it down a couple of years ago, XenClient on a Mac. We’re doing some stuff around that internally, but I think one of the things we’re trying to do is I mentioned we’ve got these customers who are doing production work with the product now, so I think we’re really focused on making them successful and making the XT customer successful, so it’s just a question of priorities. We’ll get to it. We definitely want to do it. But we want to use our resources just to make sure we make these customers successful and really nail the PC experience first.
Brian: From a legal standpoint, you are allowed to virtualize Mac OS if it’s on the hardware.
Peter: Yes, we were able to do that in the previous release. And the latest release, there are even more – you have to run it on a Mac piece of hardware, but they’re fine with it.
Brian: So, the idea of the potential future idea would be the users they pick to use a Mac, then I assume XenClient will still be installed at the lowest level, but you have a Mac VM for personal and a Windows VM.
Peter: Yes, it’s like boot camp ++. You can run both at the same time. There I think that seamless application thing probably will stick a little more because people, they’re Mac guys and they’re like oh, I’ve got to run this Windows. I just want it to show up; I don’t want to see Windows 7.
Brian: This is actually true for me because to this day, I use Outlook 2011 on the Mac, but the Outlook 2010 for Windows is a better product, so I used to run – now because I use the MacBook Air I don’t have that, but I used to run Windows as the VM, but I still had to deal with a lot of Windows to see that. So, this could do a better job.
Peter: This one I click on your app.
Brian: And Visio.
Gabe: Visio is the only reason that I have a Windows VM.
Brian: I’m sure we have a tech target internal websites require IE, but I don’t know how to use a VPN, so it’s not really an issue for me because I can’t use both sets anyway.
Peter: Go to my PC.
Brian: Log me in as free.
Brian: And the log me in experience is good. Log me in is a pay for version, but the free one is good enough.
Peter: It’s good enough for what you ant. If you just want to launch IAC and do your expenses or something.
Brian: In my case, although anymore, now, log me in is my VDI solution. I have this desktop, a Mac desktop at the office, it’s on 24/7 because I don’t pay for electricity there, and that’s my VDI. My laptop, desktop, home desktop, they all synchronize with Drop Box and all that kind of stuff.
Gabe: That’s your VPN solution.
Brian: Yes, and if there’s a file I need that’s internal only, then I log me into my work computer, and access it on the share and it’s popped right into the drop box and then it appears.
Peter: And you’re willing to have a complex setup I guess.
Brian: That’s true. It’s also that I do what I have to do because the company doesn’t provide that type of working environment, so then we just –
Peter: Well, you guys have that new site right where you’re doing the consumerization of IT?
Gabe: Specifically FUIT portion.
Peter: I didn’t know if you wanted to say that, but –
Gabe: We can. You’re doing it right here.
Brian: How do you think we get these – we have a series of articles on a thing called FUIT. Where do you think we get the ideas from?
Peter: It’s from your own experience.
Brian: Interestingly, we say all this stuff and then like today, the show, it doesn’t scream out, we go IT, please help us, what’s going on. I’m sure they really love us. That’s the end. That’s all the questions we have here, and that’s all the questions I had on my list. Gabe, anything else you want to talk about that we’re not thinking of?
Gabe: No, I’ve asked everything I had in mind going up ahead of time. I think we talked when we were in Spain about how people are seeing desktop management now. Brian had his realization last year.
Brian: I’m not so down – I’m not going to hate hypervisors. There’s my tweet.
Peter: You’re not going to tell people you’re –
Brian: Actually, one of the people who was using it said I would put a hole in my head if I didn’t have client hypervisors.
Peter: One of the nice things happening is we’re at the point where people are using this stuff, so it’s fun for me. Having been with the product since the beginning, the most fun part is when customers are deploying it and they’re telling you what they’re doing. It’s exciting, it’s fun. It’s ready for non-IT people. That’s the shift that happened over the last couple of years. You can put it in front of someone from accounting or sales and they’re not going to freak out on you.
Brian: I wonder if we can get our – I wonder if we can try that here. Our office –
Peter: Pick the user.
Brian: Yes. This office we’re sitting on for those listening, it’s the tech target San Francisco office, it’s just a satellite office, but there’s about 50 users here. I’m 34 years old and I think the third or fourth oldest person in the office, so I would love to pick some random 22 year old.
Gabe: Of which there are 30.
Brian: Some campaign manager and give that person, maybe not even tell them – I wonder if we can do that?
Gabe: Grab their laptop in the middle of the night.
Peter: Get with the IT guy.
Brian: The IT guy, here, Howard, he’s the branch office IT guy, so he is desktop support and network support and we have a chain server here, our file server here, our printing, all that kind of stuff. He swaps tapes on the servers and has them delivered. That’s the one guy. The phone guy, network jack, he’s the guy. If we could just say hey, we could get rid of all this effort. And if we could do – maybe this is BYO thing, maybe we can end on that. A lot of people think of hypervisors as virtual machines, thinking of BYO, but I’m thinking –
Peter: I think eventually we’ll do that, but the focus has been – and the interest really from the customers so far has been running this on enterprise laptops, so that’s really where we started. It’s easier to pull off than –
Brian: And also as an IT person, if I want to do BYO in my company, I don’t want someone to bring a laptop and then say okay, I’m going to have to wipe it out and install low-level thing. If I want BYO, I’m going to use virtual PC and just fusion something like that and give them a VM if that’s what I need to work with.
Peter: Or as long as they have a network connection, an app.
Brian: So, Peter Bloom, any other things that you want to mention that we did not discuss?
Peter: No, I think we touched on it. I think if people walk away thinking XenClient enterprise laptop people are deploying it now, that’s what we wanted to get across.
Brian: All right. XenClient enterprise laptop, people are deploying it now. I guess you have case studies.
Peter: It was interesting. We have this white glove program where we work closely with the early customers deploying this stuff, and so Swisscom is the one I can talk about externally because they’ve done press releases and things like that, so we’ll probably see over the course of this quarter more case study and user study stuff. I was at our sales kickoff this week, and all these sales people kept coming up and saying I’ve got this guy and they’ve got 20 doctors on it and I’ve got someone else and they’ve got 50 people and these guys are doing 150 seats. So, that’s about the scale right now. But it’s like why didn’t we hear about this. Well, it’s just kind of working. So, we hear about stuff when it’s not working, but Citrix is a big company, there’s like 7,000 people now. There’s a lot of stuff going on. I’d love to hear about everything, but it doesn’t always get back to us. So, now we’ve got a list of people and we’re going to go back and be like hey, would you talk publically about what you’re doing, so you’ll see more of that from us.
Brian: All right. Peter Bloom, one of the 70 now dedicated XenClient product folks from Citrix. Thank you so much for taking the time to come in and talk to us today.
Gabe: And thanks for being a technical marketing guy.
Peter: Sure. Anytime, anytime. Thanks, guys.
Brian: We’ll look for you.
Peter: My pleasure.
Brian: We’ll look for you at Synergy and see the next – what is it Glenn is the next?
Peter: Yes. Maybe we should call it Gabe because we did Brian.
Brian: That would be really cool. If it’s called Gabe, I would make him use it.
Peter: All right, that sounds like a challenge.
Brian: I don’t actually have the technical capacity to do –
Gabe: I’ll use it for Visio. If it works on the Mac.
Brian: Awesome. Peter, thanks so much for coming in to join us.
Peter: Sure, thanks a lot guys.
Brian: Gabe, it was cool to do a show in the same room as you for the first time.
Gabe: And for the first time we haven’t lost audio fidelity during – the only reason we’ve lost audio fidelity is because I’ve been moving side to side on the microphone.
Brian: Oh, it wasn’t the Skype internet?
Gabe: No, not our crappy internet connection here.
Brian: It’s funny, it’s only crappy when we talk about all this FUIT stuff, I don’t know what happens.
Gabe: Howard has a knob named Introduce delay.
Brian: He wrote a script that every email we send to him it knocks down our 50 percent off our connections. Thank you so much though for doing this, thanks Peter. And thank you all for listening and this show is up now and we’ll put links to download and all the XenClient stuff. That’s it. We’ll see you next week. Thank you so much.