Citrix taps into the power of iOS 4.2 on the iPad

Citrix-iPad-462x346Citrix CEO Mark Templeton couldn’t resist jumping the gun a little this week with a sneak peek at Citrix Receiver for iOS 4.2 on the iPad.

Citrix taps into the power of iOS 4.2 on the iPad

Even though Reciever is a one-client-fits-all front end for getting to Citrix’s remote computing product suite, there were still a few good reasons for punchlining his Keynote speech at Citrix Synergy in Berlin with a little demo of a complete Windows Server corporate desktop, made visible on an iPad. (A hint for any of you intending to pull off this kind of demo with an iPad – don’t point a HDTV camera at the device while you are logging in: the on-screen keyboard has letters quite large enough that you’ve just invited a room of 3,000 people to watch you type in your password.)

iOS 4.2 isn’t with us yet, but there are some very clear advantages in the forthcoming release for Citrix. It had some neat tricks for “finger computing” , such as putting a mouse cursor up on screen, offset a few inches from where your finger lands, so you can navigate those older, less friendly corporate apps (you know, like Microsoft Word) with tiny check-boxes and so on.

New releases and chewy little statistics came think and fast during the keynote, all of which are worthy of much longer appraisals: Citrix Client, for example, isn’t a client. It’s a PC hypervisor, bringing Mark’s personal Lenovo X201 into part of the on-stage demo, since it could log into a provisioning server and grab fresh VMs to run on the laptop, at will. Xen Desktop 5 is a new release – but it’s not a desktop application, it’s a way of providing desktops. Someone needs to give these guys a thesaurus and a pair of dice, or an equivalent method of choosing less ambiguous product names.

Disappointingly for me, the initial mention of the ‘C’ word (cloud computing) showed lots of promise by talking about product-independent cloud access. However, the demo didn’t show some rocket-science method of making VMs portable between different cloud-capacity standards. Instead, it simply showed a kind of bookmark-with-page-preview approach to a developer’s library of sessions on Amazon EC2, Xen as a remote host, and (the only mention) VMware ESX.

This is not how the open market of cloud provision is going to break through to fulfil its original promise; though the heavyweight web traffic load-balancer NetScaler (an initially incomprehensible Citrix acquisition) just might be. Templeton threw off a couple of asides: did you know that 75% of the world’s daily net traffic passes through NetScalers? No, neither did I. Secondly, he remarked up front that the show itself, sitting in the Estrel convention centre, was using 12,000 virtual machines and 78 Netscalers – or, as he put it, “two Amazons”.

Once you consider just how vast that comparison is, it may help to explain why digesting the blizzard of product names, capabilities, and usage cases is going to be a several-day process. Right now, 20 minutes after the end of the keynote, all I can say is that the coolest demo came on a piece of hardware whose maker – Apple – doesn’t even have a presence at the show.

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