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Microsoft and Citrix Virtualization and Cloud Offerings for Developers, Page 2

  • February 7, 2011
  • By Bruce Bookman
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Microsoft Appears to Be Playing Catch Up

Microsoft's approach to application development in the cloud is much different from VMware's. While VMware and third parties like Electric Cloud allow your development to be OS agnostic, Microsoft's base layer is Hyper-V or Windows Azure. This is really Microsoft's way of offering Windows as PaaS (Platform as a Service).

They do offer PHP, Java, and Ruby SDKs for developing on the Windows Azure cloud however you deploy your application to the cloud. In some respects this causes lock in to the Microsoft platform. The model is similar to Amazon EC2 or Google App Engine. Once your application is on that cloud, there is a barrier to moving it if you want.

Microsoft offers something called System Center Virtual Machine Manager for centralized management. And there is a tool for self service called the System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal, which should come in handy for development and test. Microsoft claims these are "partner extensible," but that is far different than offering well published SDKs and full sets of development tools.

Further support for development and test activities is provided by Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and Visual Studio Test Professional 2010, which were announced in August 2010. Both allow leveraging Hyper-V in the development and test process. These are fairly new solutions not as market hardened as VMware's offerings or the third parties that offer such solutions on top of the VMware hypervisor.

Citrix Offers One Key Development Advantage

Five open-source licensed SDKs are available for Citrix XenServer; they cover Java, Python, C, C#, and PowerShell. Further, Citrix offers a downloadable virtual machine with all the SDKs and a XenServer Simulator along with typical Linux development tools.

Citrix has PowerShell SDK for Desktop virtualization automation and for application virtualization offers a robust library of development tools as outlined in the table below. The community is strong for Citrix XenServer development, with a large Citrix Developer Network forum.

Access Gateway Endpoint Analysis SDK

Allows creating endpoint analysis scan packages for client devices before granting them access to a server running Access Gateway Advanced Edition.

Binary SDK for 32- and 64-bit Windows Clients 10.x

This includes binaries, some source files, tools, APIs and supporting documentation that allow Citrix Technology Licensing Partners to partially customize the Citrix Receiver online plug-in software and to integrate it into their devices.

Health Monitoring and Recovery SDK

Explains how to create and configure XenApp health tests that can complement those provided by the XenApp Health Monitoring and Recovery feature out-of-the-box.

ICA Client Object SDK

Allows seamlessly embedding and integrating Citrix Receiver online plug-in functionality into third-party applications, or directly embedding the client in commercially available desktop applications that support object embedding, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, and the Microsoft Office suite.

Password Manager Provisioning SDK 4.1

Allows configuring or deleting users' secondary, application specific credentials. Single Sign-On submits those credentials on behalf of the user after the primary domain authentication has occurred.

Simulation API SDK

The ICA Simulation API SDK extends the ICA Client Object specification and provides scripting interfaces that enable ICA Clients to operate in a non-user-interface or "headless" mode.

SmartAuditor SDK

Allows third-party applications to augment Smart Auditor session recordings with application specific event data that can later be retrieved during playback.

Streaming Profiler SDK

Allows creating applications or scripts that automate the management of streaming profiles.

Virtual Channel SDK

Allows creating custom Virtual Channels (VCs) for XenApp and XenDesktop so that any client resources could be seamlessly made available for the applications running on the hosts.

Web Interface SDK

Allows customizing and enhancing the capabilities of the Web Interface for XenDesktop and XenApp.

WinFrame API SDK

Allows managing live XenDesktop and XenApp environments including host, sessions, processes, shadowing, virtual channels, and system events.

XenApp Management SDK (MFCOM)

Allows creating programs or scripts that automate the management of XenApp.

XenApp 6 PowerShell SDK

Enables customers to manage XenApp 6 farms using Microsoft PowerShell scripting.

XenApp Commands (PowerShell) Tech Preview only

Allow PowerShell access to most aspects of XenApp including MFCOM functionality, Access Management Console features, and even functions found in the Advanced Configuration Tool (aka Citrix Management Console). Will work for XenApp 5 on W2K8 and on Presentation Server 4.5 with HRP03 running on Windows Server 2003 (aka XenApp 5 on W2K3).

Table courtesy of Citrix

One exciting advantage to the Citrix offerings is the inclusion of a XenServer simulator with the SDKs. This means you don't have to have bear metal to code and test. VMware does not offer ESXi as a VM, nor does Microsoft allow Hyper-V to be installed on anything but bare metal. This limits shops where investment in hardware is prohibitive.

Don't Count Microsoft Out in Cloud Programmability Market

Citrix and VMware clearly have the lead in supplying robust, market-tested development and test tools for their respective product sets. And each has a strong and established development community that has leveraged the tools for years. Yet, as we know, Microsoft's bread and butter is the development community and I would expect much more coming from Redmond around Hyper-V and cloud programmability in the coming years.

About the Author

Bruce Bookman -- Contributing Editor, Virtualization & Cloud -- With over 20 years in the software industry Bruce has a deep understanding of the software development life cycle and software quality assurance. He was at the birth of VMware's cloud offerings as a subject matter expert for vCloud. He has been both an individual contributor as well as a manager and has solid experience managing various aspects of the SDLC for independent software providers.

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Originally published on http://www.developer.com.

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