Virtualization Transforms the World of Product Design

Gordon Payne of Citrix oversees product strategy as SVP and GM of the Desktop and Cloud Division. In a recent interview, he discusses the needs of industry clients, current trends and future directions.

Staff » Gordon Payne engages with a wide range of customers, partners and the Citrix product teams building a new model for IT-as-a-service. He has worked closely with large clients developing tools and products in the aerospace, auto and oil and gas industries to apply virtualization to the demanding needs of 3D graphics applications. Below, he discusses the needs of industry clients, current trends and future directions.

View a video of Gordon taking about the Citrix-IBM solution at this link.

Q: What challenges have you had to overcome to apply virtualization to 3D visualization?

A: This has really been a partnership with some very large, early adopter customers. Citrix has been working for two decades on centralizing applications and delivering them as a service. Customers who have done large deployments for knowledge workers came to us asking if we could push the envelope and do that for 3D graphics applications. In the 3D professional graphic space, users demand very high performance and high image quality. 3D models in CAD/CAM and medical imaging typically can have hundreds of thousands or millions of vertices, so at the back end you need hardware resources including acceleration from powerful graphics cards to render these models with great performance.

Q: What are the unique benefits that the collaboration between Citrix and IBM delivers to industrial companies?

A: IBM’s leadership in data center blade system technologies, combined with the virtualization experience of Citrix, means that we can implement solutions with the performance necessary to satisfy the needs of engineers and designers. IBM has a long history working with many customers with 3D professional graphics and that knowledge is invaluable.

Citrix pioneered new hypervisor technology that supports multiple graphics cards per blade. We also partnered closely with NVIDIA to interface directly with the graphics cards via proprietary APIs, so we can deliver a very responsive user experience. We implemented advanced codec technologies to deliver a high frame rate, even to workers on relatively narrow and unreliable WAN connections.

Q: There’s been a lot of talk about the consumerization of IT. How is that impacting the heavier industries such as auto, aerospace, electronics?

A: Wireless and mobile devices are making engineering models and other 3D data more accessible. Tablets are having a transformative effect on every industry because they are lightweight and portable, but also have high resolution screens that make them suitable for pulling up design drawings on the shop floor or out in the field on an oil rig. These high-performance displays are just natural for consumption of 3D graphics applications, especially combined with 4G networks, and it’s changing the way engineers and designers access 3D models.

Q: What priorities do customers have that Citrix is looking to fulfill in the near term, and where is this technology heading?

A: Customers need to leverage a global workforce, but when subcontracting to workers overseas, intellectual property protection is top-of-mind. Desktop and application virtualization neatly solves that problem by keeping all drawings, cost models and bills-of-materials safe in the private cloud data center. Enabling employees to work from anywhere is also a top priority for forward-thinking companies who are making disaster preparedness a core part of their IT service delivery model.

Looking ahead, we’re working to keep driving down costs by increasing server scalability and reducing endpoint requirements. And we’re relentless in optimizing performance so that the complete user experience of desktop virtualization is better than what users have been accustomed when chained to local graphics workstations.

IBM also recently announced its customer, Toyota Boshoku, is using the IBM SmartCloud technology with XenDesktop and HDX 3D Pro. Toyota Boshoku engineers can now securely access their engineering data and intellectual property which is centrally stored through Desktop Cloud environment from anywhere, at anytime to share with teams around the globe.