One of the big news items that came out of Citrix iForum this week is that Citrix has tweaked their message to reflect that they can deliver and manage all types of applications. As part of this message, Citrix is saying that there are three types of applications in the world:
- Client / server applications
- Web applications
- Desktop applications
Citrix’s view is that they offer products and solutions for all three application types. (“The right tool for the right job” is how CEO Mark Templeton put it.) They’ll help you with your application no matter what kind of application it is:
- Client / server applications: application virtualization with Presentation Server
- Web applications: application optimization with the NetScaler appliances
- Desktop applications: application streaming with the newly-announced Project Tarpon.
Let’s dig in to what this means.
Client / Server Application virtualization with Presentation Server
Citrix is now positioning Presentation Server as an “application virtualization” solution with a strong focus on client/server applications. In fact, Scott Herren, the former head Presentation Server guy now has the title “global vice president for application virtualization.” He feels that 100% of client/server applications should be delivered virtually with Presentation Server
Whether or not you agree on whether Presentation Server is “real” virtualization, it’s real enough, because Citrix is going to be hitting the market strongly with this branding. (To be fair, Presentation Server does separate the application execution from the interface, so that’s virtualization at some level.) Do you think we’ll have a CAVE certification anytime soon? (Citrix Application Virtualization Engineer?)
Web Application Optimization with Citrix NetScaler Appliances
Citrix acquired NetScaler in May, but since then Citrix has not been able to be really clear on their message regarding how the NetScaler stuff fits into their overall strategy. (NetScaler makes appliances that optimize and accelerate HTTP-based web applications.) The general consensus was, “Citrix is a server-based computing company. What are they going to do with web application hardware?”
This new messaging makes it clear that Citrix’s primary goal with NetScaler is to continue to focus on web apps and NOT to shoe-horn the NetScaler technology into the traditional server-based computing world.
Desktop application streaming with the newly-announced Project Tarpon
One of the big changes in Citrix’s messaging was that they differentiated between “client / server” and “desktop” applications. Previously these were all in the same bucket called “desktop” or “Win32” and they were served by Citrix Presentation Server. The problem with this story was that Presentation Server is worthless if a client device doesn’t have a network connection, so companies wanting to use it couldn’t really use Presentation Server-based applications for laptop-toting road warriors.
The old solution was to use Presentation Server for 90% of your in-house users and install applications the old fashioned way on your laptops for when those folks had no connectivity.
The new solution according to Citrix is “application streaming.” Citrix announced something called “Project Tarpon” which is a technology that will allow users to download applications on demand from Citrix servers. The applications are still centrally managed, but they’re cached on the client devices so that they can be used even when the clients are offline.
This is similar in concept to what Softricity does today, and it’s based quite a bit on Citrix’s Application Isolation Environment technology from Presentation Server 4. (I wrote a detailed technical view of Project Tarpon yesterday.)
It’s safe to say that most people at iForum definitely liked Citrix’s new messaging. The bottom line is that Citrix is focusing on the application. They’ll help you with any application no matter what type it is. With a combination of virtualization, optimization, or streaming, they’ll make sure that the application is available to the user no matter what the situation is.