Citrix Upgrade Untethers Mobile Users from Servers

App streaming shifts processing workloads to PCs

Road warriors have never been a perfect fit for Citrix Systems Inc.’s server-based applications because they require continuous connectivity. But in a software upgrade being announced today, Citrix is adding application streaming capabilities designed to help cut the umbilical cord between users and servers.

Citrix officials said Presentation Server 4.5 can offload processing work from a server to a laptop or, for that matter, to a desktop PC. Thus, mobile users can disconnect their systems from a Citrix server but still get full functionality.

The ability to shift some processing to PCs may also let IT managers increase the number of Citrix users per server. At least that’s the hope of Susan Paul, IT director at Fallon Clinic Inc., a health care provider in Worcester, Mass.

Fallon currently runs clinical applications on 35 Citrix servers supporting about 50 users each. Paul wants to use Citrix’s software to run business applications for 300 to 500 new users. She said the application streaming capability should enable her to more than double the number of clients she now has per server.

“We can move more people over to Citrix without necessarily having to severely beef up our Citrix farm,” Paul said. Retaining Control

With streaming, an application sent to a user’s system is held in an “isolation container” on the device itself, said Dave Roussain, vice president of product marketing at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix.

Citrix Presentation Server 4.5

New features include:
•  A performance monitoring tool that shows application performance from an end users perspective.•  New technology that Citrix says will speed up graphics-intensive applications.•  Single sign-on capabilities for multiple applications.•  Pricing and availability: $350 per concurrent user; expected to ship next month.

Even if the system is rebooted, the application remains in place. But IT administrators have control over it, and if an application is updated on a server, the update is sent to each client, Roussain said.

Other major IT vendors have also become interested in streaming technology, which offers security improvements compared with running applications locally on laptops.

Late last month, Symantec Corp. said it planned to buy Altiris Inc., an application streaming and management vendor. Microsoft Corp. already offers an application streaming product called SoftGrid, which it acquired when it bought Softricity Inc. last July.

“Security and remote access is a huge pain point for enterprises,” said Natalie Lambert, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “If you want to talk about the future of the computer world, it is this ability to securely deploy and manage [applications].”

Andrew Jurczyk, CIO at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, said the Chicago-based law firm uses Citrix’s software to support attorneys who travel worldwide and are “not always in a connected state.” And in some cities, the law firm sets up what it calls a “war room” in hotels that lawyers use to manage cases.

The staffers in the war rooms may need access to additional applications as they work on a case, Jurczyk said. He now hopes that he’ll be able to deliver new applications to the remote workers via Citrix’s streaming technology.

“It’s like that missing piece,” Jurczyk said. “Mobility is a very big part of our solution and strategy.”

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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