Citrix launched new application delivery products at its annual iForum user conference in Edinburgh today, as it sought to help meet the on-demand requirements of enterprise users.
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Attendees at the event were given demonstrations of Citrix Receiver, Dazzle, XenClient, NetScaler VPX and other products. The first three products are free, while NetScaler VPX is a cheaper way for firms to make their smaller web applications widely available.
At the moment, the NetScaler MPX appliance is used by firms to optimise the delivery of major web applications, but its cost is seen as prohibitive when supporting less important applications that don't need the same power behind them.
NetScaler VPX is downloadable software that can be powered on a standard X86 server. The product will be available from September and its price will be revealed then.
Citrix CEO Mark Templeton told iForum delegates that all the products would aid those companies aiming to address on-demand and self-service application distribution needs.
Templeton said, "We want to make things simple for firms when distributing apps, Netscaler is the controller, the delivery network is the internet, and the receiver is the browser. The more you complicate matters the less efficiency you get."
Citrix Receiver is a software client that is downloaded onto a user's machine, which creates a single point of application access. It is designed to keep applications up to date and optimise their performance. It is available now.
Dazzle is slightly more interesting, as on first sight, it seems to contradict what Citrix has spent the last 20 years creating - a suite of software products that virtualise applications.
Dazzle allows enterprise end users to download applications onto their desktops and laptops, which is not the server-based computing and thin-client market Citrix has been serving.
Templeton said Dazzle would allow IT departments to advertise the applications available to users, provide an application search and online help facility to end-users, and help firms migrate to Windows 7 through its self-service distribution capabilities.
"If you know how to use iTunes, you'll know how to use Dazzle," said Templeton. It is available as a tech preview product from today.
When asked whether Dazzle went against what Citrix stood for, Wes Wasson, Citrix chief marketing officer, said, "Dazzle gives IT departments more control over what apps are used."
He explained they could use Active Directory, for instance, to dictate what rights users had to specific applications. It could also use software licence control technology from Citrix to enable software use to be charged to specific departments, and for apps to only be available for fixed time limits, he said.
Wasson also stressed that virtualised applications as well as downloaded ones could be distributed via Dazzle. If required, firms could also use Dazzle to distribute free and approved web software and widgets.
Sean Whetstone, head of IT services at recruitment firm Reed, said, "A self-service app system would be useful to have, providing it doesn't take too much time for my team to manage. It could also be used for external apps too."
Whetstone said firms such as Microsoft could be allowed to sell their software licences through Dazzle, direct to those with responsibility for buying them.
XenClient will be available later this year and is designed for mobile workers. It is free and Citrix developed it in partnership with Intel.
The product allows a single machine to be safely used by staff for both their personal and company work. A demonstration showed how a machine infected with a key logger could collect personal data when it was typed in by a user. But when that user went into an online corporate app, the key logger was not able to collect that data as it was typed - the window it was being typed in was effectively ring-fenced.
Inspector Sanjiv Pattani, an officer with Leicestershire Constabulary, said such a product "may have legs" for his force, providing existing information security needs were addressed.
Pattani has recently rolled out a mobile data systems for 600 officers on the beat and around 275 vehicles. The officers carry Blackberries running Citrix virtualised desktops protected by Citrix VPN security.
Citrix announced that the annual Edinburgh, Antwerp and Munich iForums were being axed and rolled into a single annual "Synergy" event. The first one will be held in Berlin in October 2010.
Templeton said the company's growth in size and products through acquisition and development meant it needed a bigger and all-encompassing show.
The company will also be hoping that by October next year - four months after the usual Edinburgh show, the effects of the global recession may have waned.
Citrix axed 10% of its staff - some 5,000 people across the board - at the beginning of the year, to help cope with the market downturn.