RealTime IT News

Citrix Streams to The Desktop

Citrix Systems , known primarily for connecting remote workers to their corporate networks, is now offering a way to free them from the network.

The company is releasing Presentation Server 4.5, which includes a new streaming feature that lets customers access desktop applications as an on-demand service, much in the same way as music or video is streamed over the Web.

This process is entirely transparent to end users, who will access desktop applications as if they were running locally.

The streamed applications will continue running even when users disconnect from the network, just as if they had been installed via traditional means. When end users re-connect, any new updates, patches or rollbacks are automatically, and transparently, streamed to each user, ensuring they are always working with the latest version.

Nabeel Youakim, vice president and product line executive for Citrix Presentation Server, explained that IT managers can offer a much wider range of desktop applications to users without worrying about version conflicts and migration headaches because streamed applications operate in a protected isolation environment on each user's desktop.

"This makes the Presentation Server a much more strategic product for application delivery," he told internetnews.com.

The new release of the company's flagship product also includes improved application performance monitoring, using technology incorporated from Reflectent, which Citrix acquired last May.

Citrix has also leveraged assets from its November 2004 acquisition of secure gateway vendor Net6 to improve how Presentation Server handles application access.

For instance, now users can be given read access to particular applications but can be prevented from printing or saving, and access can also be tailored to the particular device being used.

The company has also improved its ability to serve graphic displays, allowing users to virtualize even graphics-intensive applications without compromising the end-use experience.

"Before, you could do it, but it was slow," said Youakim.

Gartner analyst Mark Margevicius said that the new streaming capability represents a significant change for Citrix.

"Software streaming means now they can extend their presence into the client, which goes into a whole different ballgame," he told internetnews.com.

That application management "ballgame" includes players like Microsoft , IBM , CA , HP  and Symantec, which recently acquired Altiris.

Margevicius warned, however, that now that Citrix has entered the application management arena, they will be judged against that much stiffer competition. "The services required are different from what they were doing before," he said.

Margevicius noted that, almost as important as the feature enhancements, Citrix is also moving to a 64-bit platform, which will allow customers to consolidate their server usage. "The benefits of moving to this are pretty significant," he said.

Presentation Server 4.5 will be available in March 2007, and is available in a number of feature sets priced from $350 to $600 per concurrent user.