Citrix offers common management console with first step of Project Avalon

Exacalibur and Merlin lead the way as Citrix moves to the cloud

Citrix Systems has started to detail the future of Windows desktops and applications in its virtual environments with tech previews of Excalibur and Merlin, the first versions of its Project Avalon.

Project Avalon, which Citrix announced in May, aims to transform any Windows application or desktop into a service that runs on either a private or public cloud and is delivered across any network, to any device.

Excalibur and Merlin will make up the core of Project Avalon, Citrix announced on Wednesday at its Synergy user conference in Barcelona.

The Excalibur release of Project Avalon includes FlexCast 2.0 technology, and aims to address the challenges of managing Citrix environments.

For the first time, Windows administrators will have a common management console to configure any mix of virtual applications and desktops in a Citrix environment, and deliver them to end users with a delivery technology of their choice.

"We have unified the XenDesktop and XenApp in one common codebase," said Krishna Subramanian, vice president of marketing and business development at Citrix. "Even though customers will be able to buy them separately its all tightly integrated, and the management is also integrated and simplified so we can do cloud-scale automation next."

Getting the management right is incredibly important for Citrix, according to Nathan Hill, research director at Gartner.

"The complexity of managing Citrix environments has historically been a big challenge for organizations. As the diversity of what Citrix is trying to offer increases, they need to make sure the different delivery mechanisms are as simple as possible to manage ," said Hill.

Excalibur will also include an improved implementation of Citrix's HDX, which is made up of features that aim to enhance multimedia performance on virtual desktops. Upgraded versions of technologies such as HDX Broadcast, RealTime and MediaStream will help improve video playback, according to Citrix.

Using Excalibur, enterprises will be able to deploy Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows XP virtual desktops.

The Merlin release will focus on delivering Windows as a cloud service. The platform will run Citrix's own CloudPlatform and public clouds such as Amazon Web Services' EC2 and Microsoft's Azure, according to Citrix.

The move to the cloud also adds a layer of automation and orchestration when managing applications or desktops.

"The way we see it, IT [departments] have to do more with less, and we see that trend continuing. Merlin will make them far more efficient," Subramanian said.

The move to the cloud will give IT staff more flexibility. Enterprises will be able to simultaneously run a mix of different Windows versions on servers and clients, and different versions of XenApp and XenDesktop as well. This will, for example, simplify migrations, Citrix said.

The Excalibur release of Project Avalon will be available as a tech preview to Citrix customers on Nov. 1, while the tech preview of Merlin will arrive during the first half of next year. The company isn't providing any details on when they will become generally available, according to Subramanian.

"This is a journey Citrix is going on, and I think are being quite transparent in the fact that it is going to take time to bring it together," Hill said.

Moving both Windows desktops and application to the cloud is a big step, and enterprises need time to prepare.

Citrix also made announcements that will have a more immediate effect for users, including new versions of XenClient Enterprise and VDI-in-a-Box, as well as new devices based on the HDX SoC architecture.

The HDX SoC (system-on-a-chip) architecture was announced by Citrix last year, and aims to cut the cost of thin clients and by extension the cost of using virtual desktops.

By using optimized ARM-processors for hardware acceleration rather than decoding and rendering virtual desktop traffic on general-purpose processors in software, clients based on the architecture can deliver the user experience of thin client hardware that costs twice as much or more, while reducing power consumption, heat, and footprint, according to Citrix.

New devices from Atrust, Centerm, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IGEL, LG Electronics and NComputing will all be on display at Synergy.

While virtual desktops and thin clients can be found in enterprise data centers, Citrix also sees an opportunity for virtualization technology at small and medium-size companies, and the product that will help them adopt it is VDI-in-a-Box.

The upcoming version 5.2 of VDI-in-a-Box will be optimized for Microsoft's unified communications platform Lync, and also include support for hypervisors such as Citrix' own XenServer 6.1, Microsoft's Windows 2012 Hyper V and vSphere 5.1 from VMware.

A tech preview of VDI-in-a-Box 5.2 will come soon, according to Citrix. The company didn't elaborate on when general availability can be expected.

Last but not least, XenClient is a so-called bare-metal hypervisor for desktop virtualization.

The technology holds the promise of allowing desktop virtualization to work without a network connection and letting the IT department issue laptops that come with one OS for corporate use and one for personal use.

Version 4.5 of XenClient Enterprise is compatible with the third-generation Core and Core vPro processors from Intel, making it possible to use XenClient on the latest desktops, laptops and tablets, according to Citrix.

It will also be possible to run Windows 8 on top of XenClient.

Existing XenClient users will soon be able to download a tech preview, and general availability is planned for December.

Send news tips and comments to

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?