At its Synergy 2012 event in Barcelona, Spain, Citrix unveiled a host of initiatives designed to help the company’s end users deliver cloud services without radically altering existing infrastructures.

Opening Windows to the Cloud

Some people shut their windows when a cloud approaches, but Citrix is launching a two-phase plan designed to open the Windows OS to the cloud. Recognizing that most companies run Windows desktops and apps, but that the Windows OS is not inherently designed to adapt to mobile devices or cloud services, Citrix provided more details on its Project Avalon, which is designed to transform Microsoft's Windows-based tools into cloud services.

Project Avalon will be delivered in two phases, dubbed Excalibur and Merlin. Excalibur, which Citrix will make available as a preview before the end of the year, is designed to simplify the management of virtual apps and desktops and provide Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop users with a centralized ability to create and deliver virtual apps and desktops. Excalibur will also feature enhancements to Citrix HDX high-definition technology, including a new technology called HDX EdgeSight designed to give real-time analytics and service visibility for mobile device users.

Merlin, which will become available in preview mode the first half of 2013, will integrate cloud functionality with XenApp and XenDesktop to allow the deployment of personalized, cloud-based Windows apps and desktops.

New CloudPlatform Partners

Citrix's CloudPlatform, powered by Apache CloudStack, is designed to allow users to build their own private clouds. Citrix is announcing new CloudPlatform partners including Alcatel-Lucent, CA Technologies, Cisco and NetApp. In addition, telecom providers including BT, China Telecom, EVRY, IDC Frontier, KDDI, KT, NTT Communications and Slovak Telecom are standardizing on CloudPlatform for future cloud releases.

The CloudBridge to the 21st Century

Citrix is also announcing new partners for its CloudBridge solution that connects datacenters to third-party clouds. A partnership with Amazon Web Services, available next month, will connect datacenters to the Amazon cloud and also allow users to purchase CloudBridge as a short-term hosted service from Amazon Web Services. A similar partnership with Microsoft Azure will commence as a preview in December.

New Netscaler, ByteMobile Analytics

Other noteworthy news coming from Synergy 2012 includes a demonstration of the next generation of the Citrix Netscaler SDX consolidated service delivery networking platform, which will support network services from third-party vendors including Aruba Networks, BlueCat Networks, CSE SecureMatrix, Palo Alto Networks, RSA, Splunk, Trend Micro, Venafi and Websense. In addition, new UXI analytics technology for the Citrix ByteMobile data/video optimization platform for mobile network operators scores mobile user experience in real time to create a user experience index (UXI) score that allows ByteMobile to automatically make necessary adjustments.

Citrix Manages the Future

According to IDG News Service, Citrix’s release of details about Projects Avalon and Merlin represents “the future of Windows desktops and applications in its virtual environments.” IDG points out that Avalon gives Windows admins their first-ever common management console in a Citrix environment. IDG quotes Gartner analysts as saying the complexity of managing Citrix environments “has historically been a big challenge for organizations,” and getting management right is “incredibly important.”

Windows is Here to Stay

Citrix's heavy focus on letting Windows users adapt their installed Windows desktops and apps to the rapidly evolving world of mobile and cloud computing makes good business because despite frequent user complaints -- what Windows wouldn't give for the hardcore followers Apple attracts so effortlessly -- Windows is everywhere. And it's not going away anytime soon.

Witness the huge publicity surrounding the upcoming release of Office 2013. CMSWire is predicting a “Microsoft upgrade frenzy” starting on the official Office 2013 release data of Oct. 26, and so is everyone else. For the first time in the company's history, Microsoft (and many, many partners) are launching PCs, tablets, smartphones, along with huge amounts of new software via the Windows Store and other portals.

The alignment of new OS, Office suite and hardware across so many areas has never been seen before. But Windows users still need a helping hand extending those investments into the cloud and mobile areas -- and Citrix is ready to lend that hand.