Citrix Rounds Out Unix Line, Enhances Windows Software

Citrix hasbeen busy rounding out its server-based computing product lines.

The companyaugmented its strong presence in the virtual user interface arena by completingthe rollout of products for the three most common flavors of Unix servers atits Citrix iForum in Orlando, Fla., earlier this month. Meanwhile, Citrixenhanced its bread-and-butter Windows version of the server product withadditional features.

Citrixprovides software that allows servers to act as fat hosts, doing all theprocessing on the server that is usually a shared workload between the serverand the client. The company has been shipping multiuser environment softwaresince 1991.

Althoughthe company started out on OS/2, it’s the business of providing multiuseraccess to Windows NT Server through Citrix WinFrame and Citrix MetaFrame thatmade the company.

Branchingout into Unix makes sense for Citrix, says Matt Dircks, the company’s directorof product management. “Our real mantra has been, and continues to be, providea secure place to access any application. We mean that whether it’s Windows,Unix, or Java,” Dircks says.

Citrixfirst shipped a multiuser for Unix product in March, Citrix MetaFrame forSolaris Operating Environment. The 1.1 upgrade version in August, was quicklyfollowed by versions for IBM’s AIX flavor and Hewlett-Packard’s HP-UX flavor.

DanKusnetzky, analyst with market research firm IDC, agrees the Unix ports are agood idea. “I think [Citrix] finally got the idea that as it starts to moveinto the enterprise at higher and higher levels, the focus on NT, whileexcellent, was not sufficient to provide for the needs of its clients,”Kusnetzky says. “While NT and Windows 2000 are increasingly important, it’s notthe host of existing applications in many cases.”

Dircks saysthat for now, Citrix is done with its Unix ports. Linux server applications, sofar, are too few and far between to justify the effort. “In terms of killerapps that customers are asking for, we haven’t seen it yet,” Dircks says ofLinux.

Accordingto Kusnetzky, Citrix’s decision to port to Solaris, AIX, and HP-UX covers about65 percent of the Unix software market. “The next player down holds about 2.5percent [market share],” he says.

In theWindows NT Terminal Server and Windows 2000 worlds, Citrix adds significantfunctionality through its Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) to the basecapabilities Microsoft provides in its Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). Likewisewith Unix, Citrix says it has something to offer beyond what users can achievewith PC X Server approaches to multiuser computing.

Citrix saysit is eliminating the need for dedicated PC X Servers. MetaFrame supports abroader range of clients, including wireless devices, and requires lessbandwidth than PC X Servers, according to Citrix.

The companywill face stiff competition on the Unix side from other multiuser softwarevendors, including Tarentella, GraphOn, New Moon, and others, Kusnetzky says.

Pricing forMetaFrame 1.1 for Unix runs $5,995 for each flavor of the product. It includes15 concurrent user licenses.

Citrix isfollowing a new release model for its MetaFrame for Windows products. In thepast, the company simply upgraded the product. Citrix will now roll out featurereleases and platform releases separately. The feature releases will come twoor three times per year, with platform releases shipping every 18 to 24 months,according to the schedule.

Last month,Citrix released Feature Release 1 for MetaFrame 1.8 for Windows 2000 andMetaFrame 1.8 for Windows NT 4.0 Server, Enterprise Edition. One new featureincludes text-entry prediction, which allows users to see what they’re typinglocally when slow WAN links or network latency might otherwise cause the systemto hang temporarily.

There arealso wireless client options, including the ability to scale application viewsdown for small form factor screens and the capability for a handheld user to panthrough an otherwise full-sized display.

The featurerelease adds support for ICA Packet Tagging, which allows compliant routers toprioritize traffic; enhanced color depth and screen resolution; multimonitorsupport; and more control over encryption levels, among other enhancements.

The featurerelease is free to customers who already have Citrix’s Subscription Advantage.It costs $1,295 otherwise.

Tying theWindows and Unix versions of MetaFrame together is Citrix’s portal product,Nfuse. The company recently announced version 1.5 of the portal, which includesenhancements to allow clients to download the ICA client software from theportal and begin accessing applications without an administrator visiting thedesktop.


CitrixSystems Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.,
IDC, Framingham, Mass., www.idc