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Citrix: Desktop virtualization makes good security sense

Added on Dec 08, 2011 by Ellen Messmer, Network World

One of the main reasons for deploying desktop virtualization is the security advantages it can provide, such as keeping sensitive data off the endpoint, according to Citrix.

And Citrix is practicing what it preaches at its Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., headquarters where employees, for example, use the Citrix virtualization product Citrix Receiver for smartphones and tablets.

Citrix Receiver brings full-fledged desktop apps to smartphones and tablets

"It's required to access some systems such as SAP," says Kurt Roemer, chief of security strategy at Citrix. "And we don't have to roll out an SAP client. It's up to date and the exact configuration. You're just interacting with the application."

While businesses all operate in different circumstances, there are general aspects of desktop virtualization that hold appeal to IT departments that have fought unending battles to try and keep unwanted applications off user desktops, patch applications, and cope with the stray malware eruptions.

"It gives IT back control," Roemer says. "It allows for risk-based access, and the decision on whether to allow the data to be taken offline." The company managers can set policies related to saving or printing data, for instance. Although for those needing data offline, desktop virtualization doesn't preclude use of encryption, for example.

Applications made available through desktop virtualization — Citrix offers Xen Desktop, which can run on top of VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V or the Citrix hypervisor — are consistent across the user base and patch updates to them are consistent, even while access to applications is more flexible.

"This is very beneficial for security," Roemer notes, adding that it allows for flexibility in deciding how to centrally establish management and security controls.

It's evident from the survey of 1,100 senior IT managers and decision-makers worldwide that was published today that there's also widespread expectation that desktop virtualization will be used in a complementary fashion with cloud-based services and various security controls.

The survey, "Desktop virtualization and security: a global market research report," found 91% of the respondents said they already have or will have desktop virtualization implemented by the end of 2013 in their organizations, of which all have at least 500 employees.

In addition, they said they plan to complement desktop virtualization with cloud-based services and additional security measures such as data-loss prevention, identity management, mobile-device management, VPN, threat management and authentication.

According to the survey, which didn't identify which specific desktop virtualization technologies were being used, 33% have already deployed desktop virtualization to a significant level and a further 58% plan to do so before the end of 2013. The survey, sponsored by Citrix, was conducted by firm Vanson Bourne.

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