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Citrix Expands Platform

Citrix Systems Inc. this week announced three new software offerings in its application serving platform.

In addition to a new product for secure application access called Citrix Extranet, Citrix has released enhancements to its MetaFrame application server software and NFuse application portal software. The expansion of Citrix's application serving platform allows Windows or UNIX-based applications to be securely deployed over the Internet and accessed through a Web portal using a browser.

"We look at it as a complete system -- managing client connections, application delivery and service-level management," David Manks, director of product management for Citrix, told ASP News. "MetaFrame is the publishing aspect, NFuse is the subscriber's access point, and Extranet provides the management, security and control."

The new Citrix Extranet provides a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to securely deploy applications via the Internet. System administrators can set access permissions on a per-user, per-group or universal basis. A user's access levels are verified each time they log in to the system.

Citrix Extranet provides both encryption and authentication mechanisms. Encryption is achieved at two stages of deployment, with public key encryption used during the online registration process each user must complete to register their encryption keys, and use of the 168-bit Triple Digital Encryption Standard (3DES) to create an identical key on the server. This shared key encryption method is computationally simpler than public key technology, offering performance advantages to Extranet users.

The software uses a two-factor authentication system comprised of a user's digital token, certificate or "smart card", and an access code. "It uses something you have and something you know, like an ATM card and PIN number," Manks said. Both the client user and the server are authenticated, ensuring only authorized users are establishing a VPN session.

Citrix NFuse 1.5 application portal software lets users integrate and publish interactive applications into any standard Web browser. It is designed to complement enterprise portal solutions that provide a centralized gateway to corporate information and external content. With NFuse, companies can publish existing, unmodified, interactive applications while managing the applications using Citrix MetaFrame application server software.

New features in this NFuse release provide enhanced performance, usability and security features, including application filtering and caching, support for corporate portal solutions and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) server-to-server encryption. Of particular interest to ASPs is the new web-based ICA client installation, Manks said. "It's a very effective way to deliver the client for first-time users," he said. "With an ASP model, you may not have the ability to touch all the users the way a corporate IT administrator would."

MetaFrame 1.8, Feature Release 1 (FR1) extends the functionality of Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition and Microsoft Windows 2000 Terminal Services, as well as UNIX operating systems. It provides enterprise application management for increased scalability, deployment and simplified application support, Web enablement of applications via Citrix NFuse application portal software, and universal application access.

MetaFrame FR1 application server software offers new features and functionality including enhanced administrator control and management, an improved user experience resulting from extended color depth and resolution, and extended security via SecureICA 128-bit encryption and user authentication.

With the release of MetaFrame FR1, Citrix is also incorporating a new modular software delivery process for its MetaFrame application server software. Citrix will now separate its more-frequent Featur