The Citrix Synergy 2008 show took place last week in Houston, and we were able to speak with Barry Phillips (Citrix’s group vice president and general manager, Advanced Solutions Group) about Citrix’s strategy for the coming year, which focuses on virtualization and application delivery. The company announced several pieces of news, including introductions of new core virtualization products (which build on Citrix’s acquisition of XenSource last year), a dedicated application-delivery platform, and a new framework technology for its application-delivery infrastructure.

The major Synergy product announcements were Citrix XenDesktop, Citrix App and Desktop Receivers, and Citrix Branch Repeater. All of the announcements extend the Citrix Delivery Center family of products.

Citrix XenDesktop combines fully integrated desktop and application virtualization for a comprehensive desktop delivery solution. “The product takes the local OS, the user profile, desktop images, and creates a single master image of each component, then dynamically assembles those components at runtime,” Phillips said. He shared details about the complete XenDesktop product line, including the release of a new Express Edition that offers free desktop virtualization for as many as 10 users, and new Enterprise and Platinum Editions. All editions of XenDesktop are optimized to work with the new Citrix Desktop Receiver client.

“In desktop virtualization environments, separating the applications from the desktop OS provides IT organizations with greater flexibility, scalability, and manageability of the overall desktop delivery solution,” Phillips said. “It simplifies desktop lifecycle management by consolidating desktops and applications down to just a few standardized images that can be dynamically combined for individual users’ needs.”

Citrix App and Desktop Receivers take their inspiration from the world of digital media services, in which highly optimized delivery networks give subscribers in any location fast, easy access to on-demand content. Receivers help corporate IT organizations provide a similar level of service when delivering desktops and applications to end users around the world. These new additions further extend the value of the Citrix Delivery Center family, using advanced virtualization and networking technologies to help customers transform static datacenters into dynamic “delivery centers” for the best performance, security, cost savings and business agility. The Citrix Desktop Receiver and Citrix App Receive are lightweight software clients that run on end-user devices and are responsible for receiving the delivery of centralized desktops and applications. Citrix Desktop Receiver is a lightweight software client designed to work with Citrix XenDesktop to give office workers fast, easy, secure access to their virtual desktops from any location. Citrix App Receiver is a lightweight, auto-updating software client designed to work with Citrix XenApp and Citrix NetScaler to give any user fast, easy, secure access to any application from any location.

Just as digital TV repeaters amplify and retransmit media signals to homes in a given neighborhood, Citrix Branch Repeater amplify and retransmit applications to branch office users. It’s an easy-to-deploy appliance that sits between corporate datacenters and branch offices. By staging the delivery of applications and Windows services closer to branch office users, Citrix Branch Repeater helps make branch-office computing faster and more cost-effective for companies of all sizes. Citrix Branch Repeater will be sold as part of the Citrix Delivery Center product family.

With these new additions, the Citrix Delivery Center product family now includes four classes of infrastructure components deployed along the line-of-sight between applications and desktops in the datacenter, and end users in any location: controllers, gateways, repeaters, and receivers. Citrix Delivery Center also includes tools that make it easy to orchestrate communications between each of these components and third-party systems.

Just to sum up: The Citrix Delivery Center product family begins with four “delivery controllers” that let you centralize applications and desktops in the datacenter and control their delivery over the network to end users: XenDesktop (virtualizes and delivers Windows desktops), XenApp (virtualizes and delivers Windows applications), XenServer (virtualizes and delivers application workloads on servers), and NetScaler (optimizes and delivers Web applications). Citrix Access Gateway sits at the edge of the corporate network and provides secure application access to authorized users. Citrix Branch Repeater stages the delivery of applications closer to branch-office employees, consolidates branch services, and accelerates application traffic over the WAN. And Citrix Desktop Receiver and Citrix App Receiver enhance the performance, security, and user experience of desktops and applications delivered to end users