Citrix Systems moved a step closer to achieving its "apps on tap" vision, with an upgrade of its popular thin-client software and two new products which aim to improve the management of Citrix servers.
Citrix believes the new releases will help the thin-client technology scale, making it more attractive to large corporations. The administration enhancements will also make it easier for resellers and integrators to deliver applications, which they host, to customers via a network.
According to David Weiss, director of product management for Citrix, two companies in the US who have been delivering applications to schools across a network via the Citrix technology have already moved from pilot stage to implementation.
The applications are hosted at the reseller's site and delivered across a network. The schools pay for the applications based on a subscription model.
"For a finite set of users, the technology is definitely there to do that," Weiss said. However, Citrix has even grander views, which will see telco and Internet providers delivering applications "on tap" across a network to an infinite number of users. Right now, neither the technology nor business model is there to enable that to happen, Weiss said, but Citrix is already involved in trials with companies he describes as future Application Service Providers (ASPs) like UUNet and British Telecom.
"You'll see a lot of noise about this in 1999, but not much action until next year."
Critical to any rentable application plan is the introduction of technology like that which Citrix has delivered with Resource Management Services. It captures information about users, applications and systems which administrators can use for capacity planning, tuning, management and importantly billing. Users can now be billed according to the amount of time they make use of any application.
Citrix has also introduced Installation Management Services, which enables an administrator to deploy an application once across a server farm regardless of which subnet or location servers are at.
A new upgrade of Citrix MetaFrame, the add-on server to Microsoft's Terminal Server also improves manageability and is more efficient in the amount of bandwidth it uses. It is also video-ready, although users will need to buy the Citrix Video Server, which becomes available midway through this year, to make use of this functionality. Linux and SCO Unix clients have been added.
Citrix has also brought its WinFrame package, which is used instead of Terminal Server, up to the same level as MetaFrame.
Version 1.8 of Metaframe is available now, while version 1.8 of Winframe will ship in March. Citrix Resource Management Services costs $2445 per server and is available now. Installation Management Server costs $2125 and will ship before mid-year.