Citrix is working on something it calls “ USB redirection to cloud” that will allow input devices on local devices to work on virtual desktops.
Over the last year, everyone in the remote/virtual/as-a-service desktop business has been talking up their ability to virtualise the graphics-heavy apps that some users wield. It's important for desktop virtualisers to be able to handle such applications because it turns out that demanding apps are in demand in out-of-the-way places where operating a fleet of PCs is hard to do. Oil rigs and mines are often mentioned to The Reg's virtualisation desk as hotbeds of CAD users who can best be served with virtual desktops.
Citrix now thinks such users also want to be able to use peripherals like drawing tablets and stylii with virtual desktops, but have been prevented from doing so by latency.
USB redirection to cloud is an effort to overcome that problem.
At VMworld 2015 last week Citrix demonstrated a WACOM tablet being used to drive Autodesk Mudbox, running inside a Citrix XenDesktop session. Even over conference-grade WiFi, and a trip over the public internet to Citrix's bit barns, the tablet and its stylus worked, complete with pressure-senstive nuances.
So far, so niche. But Citrix thinks this could also in handy for applications like signature pads on credit card machines. Given criminals' liking for point of sale machines this sounds like a good idea, as a signature pad that sends data to a virtual machine in a nicely-secured data centre sounds rather more secure than signatures managed on a PC with a cash drawer attached.
Citrix says “USB Redirection to Cloud will be part of a future XenDesktop and XenApp release.” At a guess, that might mean one of the “feature packs” Citrix drops at regular intervals or version 8 of the Xen products that, if Citrix sticks to its usual release practices, will land sometime in 2016. ®