Up until about a week ago, our little company that focuses almost entirely on application delivery had yet to use any application delivery products in a production capacity. That all changed when we needed to provide QuickBooks, our accounting program, to more than one person.
Folks, on August 15th, 2007, The Brian Madden Company started using Citrix.
Not regular PS 4.5 - we didn't need that much (or have that much time). We decided to go with Citrix Access Essentials, since it's pretty much made for people just like us. The idea came at iForum Edinburgh in June, when we learned that CAE was actually kind of cool. At that point, we still didn't need it, but we had a definite situation of "a solution looking for a problem."
Then the QuickBooks problem came up (which is NOT supported in a Citrix environment, unless you have the Enterprise edition), so I decided to give it a whirl. Getting it installed was not pretty, but there are some great resources out there to help make it work. After trying to pound the square peg into the round hole and more or less failing, I checked out our forums and found some great help. Actually, that was after Googling for a while. Then Brian said, "did you look in our forums?" I quickly reacted and had the page up before I responded with "Yeah, of course. Duh."
FYI - the QuickBooks post that I found is right here.
Anyhow, CAE has been great, and is worthy of a look by small companies or small implementations that don't have a large IT staff to do the support. It supports up to 75 users on as many servers as you want (a vast improvement from the last version), and the installation took maybe 30 minutes from disc insertion to published applications (not counting the QuickBooks massaging that was needed).
Limitations are few, especially when you consider that this is for a small environment. There's obviously no streaming or Citrix Desktop Server features. Installation Manager and Resource Manager are also missing (although there is a problem detection/alert system built in).
Included features are CPU and Memory Optimization, SpeedScreen, shadowing, Web Interface, and all the other basic Presentation Server goodies. There's even NDS integration, for the seven or eight of you that still need that (and for very good reasons, I'm sure)...(not joking, I came here from an NDS environment!). Polcies, printer management, load balancing - you name it, they're there. It's like Presentation-Server-Advanced-Edition-for-Small-Businesses.
There are even features in CAE that Presentation Server doesn't have, like all the wizards. There are wizards for publishing applications (it finds all the exes for you and says "which one of these apps do you want to publish"), the alerts wizard (where in two or three clicks you configure who is to be notified of a problem), and the internal & external access wizards (that set up your Web Interface sites). Granted, these are there to make it easier on the not-so-savvy admin, but there are times when they'd be nice on CAE's bigger, badder siblings.
That is actually a pretty good analogue. CAE version 1 was sort of like your weird cousin with the same last name. You can tell you're related, but something's not quite right. This new version is close enough to the real thing that it's almost like your younger brother. He wouldn't stand up in a fight against the big boys, but he's still a good kid.
So, we'll see how this goes. I just thought that it was an occasion worth mentioning...the day we decided to (needed to) practice what we preach on our own systems!
Fore more feature information, check out Brian's article.