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Citrix vs. VMware war intensifies with protocol, IoT innovation

When CEO Mark Templeton took the stage at Citrix Synergy this week, it was in front of a graphic that read “Beyond the horizon,” perhaps a subtle jab at competitor VMware. Certainly, the tech talks that followed were focused on some pretty innovative projects, such as Octoblu and Workspace Hub.

The Workspace Hub device looks a lot like a USB stick, but Citrix says this sort-of thin client will change the way people work in offices. It uses Octoblu’s Internet of Things (IoT) technology to enable seamless roaming, which means you can step into your cubicle, tablet in hand, and your PC will grab that screen; you can keep right on working without missing a beat. You can walk into a conference room and GoToMeeting starts the meeting for you, sends a text to people who are late, and makes everyone more productive. As an IoT product, Octoblu enables machine-to-machine connectivity, which Templeton said really results in the “integration of everything.”

One of the things that drew the biggest reaction from the crowd was the new HDX protocol enhancements. That may sound like small potatoes compared with the cool factor of Octoblu and Workspace Hub, but unlike those technologies, it’s something that customers will be able to use in the very near future.

Protocol wars rage on

Later this year, HDX will offer virtual desktop and app customers an improved experience across many devices with 20% more users per server and 30% less bandwidth consumption, according to Citrix. It will allow for real-time collaboration with HTML5 and Chromebook, and the protocol improvements will enhance user experiences on low-cost devices such as the Raspberry Pi mini PC.

These HDX enhancements garnered a lot of attention from attendees, in part because they’re tangible. They solve a problem that many shops struggle with — delivering a good user experience on a cheap device.

That being said, Citrix isn’t the first to do it.

At VMworld 2014, VMware announced a partnership with Nvidia and Google, as well as some major improvements to its HTML5 protocol Blast. There’s a specific Chromebook that has the protocol and the chip built in — the Acer Chromebook 13 — and it’s available now.

So just how far “beyond the horizon” Citrix is really looking — too far? Not far enough? Octoblu and Workspace Hub have teeth, and they’ll find interesting use cases in the enterprise, but it remains to be seen when we’ll actually see these technologies in real offices.