Citrix acquires streaming technology vendor Ardence

Company's buying spree totals around $600M over past thee years

Citrix Systems Inc. today said it has made an agreement to acquire Ardence Inc., a company with a technology that can stream an operating system and its applications to a diskless PC from a central server. The planned purchase is part of Citrix's effort to expand its product line through acquisitions.

With this move, Citrix is getting a technology that enables users to stream a Windows or Linux operating system to any desktop or server as needed. Benefits of this centralized approach, according to Ardence and its future owner, include reduced desktop administration costs and tighter security.

Citrix didn't disclose the purchase price of the privately owned Ardence and said it expects to complete the deal sometime in the first quarter of next year. It will integrate its offerings into its product line over the next year, said Mike Cristinziano, vice president of strategic development at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix.

Ardence, which has about 100 employees and some 3,000 customers, will continue to operate from its offices in Waltham, Mass., Cristinziano said.

Citrix's core product is its Presentation Server for delivering client/server-based applications, but the company has been moving to broaden its offerings, spending about $600 million in the last several years.

Citrix's largest purchase was NetScaler Inc. for about $300 million in June 2005. NetScaler makes a technology that accelerates the performance of Web-based applications.

"We have essentially taken Citrix from being a single product just three short years ago to having a dozen products plus today," Cristinziano said.

Cristinziano said Citrix complemented the NetScaler purchase with its acquisition of Orbital Data Corp. for $50 million in August. Orbital makes a technology for optimizing delivery over wide-area networks. Similarly, it purchased Reflectent Software Inc., which makes performance monitoring systems, for $16.7 million in May.

Joe Terrasi, the IT manager at Gordon Tech High School in Chicago, is using the Ardence technology in the Catholic school's computer labs. He said it allows students to tinker with the operating system, make registry changes and generally do things "that we would normally be terrified of them doing" and then see the result of those changes. With a reboot, the image returns to its original state.

Terrasi said it remains to be seen whether Citrix's acquisition is an advantage to its customers. If Citrix continues down the road set by acquiring Ardence and improves the technology, he said, it can be a great product.

After learning of the sale, Kyle Ohm, the IT director at Freeze.com LLC, an online media company, called Ardence to learn details. The platform is a core data center technology at this Sartell, Minn.-based company that’s used to rapidly provisioning servers to meet demand, he said.

“Obviously, we’re going to follow this real close; it is our core infrastructure," Ohm said. He is nonetheless hopeful that Citrix will bring needed tools to the market faster, such as self-managing capabilities.

What Citrix needs to do is improve the platform as an enterprise product by delivering tools that help it work with other systems, such as IBM’s Tivoli line, Ohm said.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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