Project Avalon

Mark Templeton announced during Synergy Project Avalon, a platform to deliver desktops and apps as cloud services.  It’s almost universal when we talk to customers that the topic of cloud inevitably comes up. What’s interesting is to look at what cloud means to different customers and the use cases driving their need to build and/or consume cloud services.  As the discussion transitions to how desktops, apps, and data fit into their cloud plans it’s clear that everyone is at a different stage on the journey towards the cloud.  With that in mind I want to share some of the background and use cases driving Project Avalon that customers have shared with me and how this enables enterprise and service providers to adopt and build cloud services at their pace.


Technology Transitions and Multi-Site Environments

We have many customers with large environments spanning the globe. The first priority for these traditional enterprise customers is to manage the complexity with orchestrating and automating their disparate XenDesktop and XenApp environment from a common layer. Standing up a new environment requires manual provisioning and configuration of the new site. Collectively, we have made advances in automating the process via PowerShell scripts, but one mis-configured cmdlet can cause a unfortunate chain reaction downstream.  The site-specific workflows through created challenges for scaling up seamlessly across multiple sites.  As XenDesktop covers a wider array of user needs or wish to migrate to a new version, the complexity ratio has the potential increase substantially at large scale.  To address these challenges customers will be able to start utilizing the service orchestration technology originally introduced with Project Rainmaker to help automate and orchestrate their existing and new environments deployed on virtualized infrastructure.

Hybrid Deployments

We also see a new emerging wave of enterprise customers that are ready to use cloud resources to fulfill their users desktop and app needs. But the transition isn’t a magical moment where they cut everything over to running their desktops in a cloud.  It’s a process where you’ll strategically place new desktop and app groups in an on-premise private cloud such as CloudStack or possibly look towards one of Citrix’s 1500 CSPs to provide extra capacity in the public cloud for their desktop and app needs.  With Project Avalon, Citrix customers will have the flexibility to provision and manage a hybrid hypervisor and cloud environment side-by-side.  With this customers can quickly add new desktops and apps in the public cloud or migrate users to their internal private cloud overtime.

Service Providers and IT-as-a-Service in the Enterprise

Finally, we’ve seen a growing convergence between service providers and a new wave of enlightened enterprises. What do I mean by the enlightened enterprise? These are the customers that have embraced delivering IT as a service. They talk about self-service, tenant isolation, delegated administration, and delivering services to their customers – all things you traditionally here from a service provider. In fact, service providers have been building service-oriented solutions for years and with Project Avalon, they’ll be able to build upon a proven platform to add desktops, apps, and data to their existing service offerings.

Automating Windows app and desktop delivery

At the heart of the Avalon platform is the App Orchestration solution.  This technology has already shipped and can be leveraged by the over 2000 Citrix Service Providers who are delivering Windows apps and desktops as a service to hundreds of thousands of users from their public clouds.  The current technology, which you may know of as Project Rainmaker, currently supports the orchestration of XenApp farms for Citrix Service Providers and delivers three key benefits:

A multi-tenant layer which gives service providers the ability to isolate customers into separate farms while managing them as one coherent system.  With this layer, service providers can isolate customers into their own farms or server worker groups, but still manage the entire environment as a single entity from a single console.
Multi-version management and automation.  Service providers will use the orchestration technology to automatically transition user sessions from older machines to newer ones in order to automate updates needed for patches, new versions of Citrix products, new apps, etc.  The orchestration layer handles the automatic draining of users from the older servers, allocation of new servers and redirection of users to the updated servers.  Once old servers are completely drained, they are automatically returned to the pool for use with the newly updated images.
Integration with CloudPortal Services Manager to enable tenant admins to add user apps or desktops that have been defined and advertised by the service provider.
In Project Avalon, we will take App Orchestration to the next logical step – App & Desktop Orchestration.  This next level of integration will extend beyond XenApp workloads to include all FlexCast models under XenDesktop, providing ultimate flexibility by enabling service providers and enterprise customers to deliver any type of desktop or app environment including hosted shared, VDI, server VDI, etc.  The orchestration layer will extend all the benefits listed above to all FlexCast models.  It will also deliver 2 new capabilities:

Automatic creation of user workspaces from infrastructure (via the CloudStack integration) to apps, desktops, data (via ShareFile integration) and other services like Exchange, SharePoint, etc. (via CloudPortal integration).
Multi-site management.  Service providers who have multiple deployments in different geographies can leverage the orchestration layer to manage those sites as one system from a single console.
Autonomic instantiation of user workspaces based on current demand for workspaces.
Read all about the App Orchestration technology in these blogs and keep looking for more coming in the ongoing blog series on App Orchestration:

  • App Orchestration: Concepts
  • App Orchestration: Architecture

Referenced material:

  • Blog by Orestes Melgarejo
  • Blog by Joe Vaccaro

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