Citrix Systems Inc.s MetaFrame XP presentation server feature release 3 leverages Microsoft Corp.s Windows Server 2003 environment to provide centralized application management and thin-client remote access for most Windows shops. eWEEK Labs tests showed Citrix has built better performance, manage- ment and security improvements into MetaFrame FR 3, making it a solid choice for companies that need to centrally manage and provide anytime- anywhere access to Windows applications. Companies already using MetaFrame should upgrade to FR 3. (Upgrading from previous versions of MetaFrame XP—FR 2 and older—is free for customers enrolled in Citrixs Subscription Advantage program.)
MetaFrame XP Presentation Server Feature Release 3
XP FR 3, the centerpiece of Citrixs MetaFrame Access Suite, provides larger companies with a manageable, efficient way to share applications over virtually any network connection. Supporting Windows Server 2003 environments, Citrixs updated server is more feature-complete than previous editions, and sites using Windows Terminal Services should upgrade. More information is available at www.citrix.com.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
MetaFrame XP is the central piece of the companys new Citrix MetaFrame Access Suite and uses Windows Terminal Services to let clients access applications. It provides thin-client emulation over virtually any network connection.
The MetaFrame suite is targeted at organizations that require centralized computing to provide better security and manageability, such as health care, government agencies and financial institutions. In terms of features, MetaFrame XP FR 3 stacks up well against its closest competitor, Canaveral iQ, from New Moon Systems Inc. (which was recently acquired by Tarantella Inc.). However, Canaveral is less expensive, with an entry price of $100 per user.
The other components in the MetaFrame Access Suite—MetaFrame Conference Manager, Secure Access Manager and Password Manager—are compelling as well. MetaFrame Conference Manager, at $99 per user license, provides collaboration capabilities and lets clients share and modify applications published by MetaFrame Presentation Server.
MetaFrame Secure Access Manager, which starts at $109 per user license, is a portal application suite that gives enterprises the capabilities to publish custom Web applications over Web portals. Secure Access Manager also provides secure connectivity for running MetaFrame sessions over the Internet without the need for virtual private networks.
MetaFrame Access Suites Password Manager component, slated for release later this year, will provide single-sign-on capabilities to ease enterprise authentication management. Pricing hasnt been released.
IT managers should consider MetaFrame Secure Access Manager to provide an affordable way to grant mobile employees access to corporate applications over the Internet.
Citrix offers MetaFrame in Standard, Advanced and Enterprise Edition packages (we tested the Enterprise Edition). All packages include MetaFrame XP FR 3 and the Web Interface component.
The Advanced and Enterprise Editions include more management tools than does the Standard package. Among them are Load Manager, Resource Manager, Installation Manager and Network Manager.
In tests, we set up a MetaFrame XP Server farm using two machines running Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition. Each system had an Intel Corp. Pentium 4 processor and 512MB of memory.
MetaFrame XP Server, like Canaveral iQ, requires many Windows components (Terminal Services is required, of course) installed to provide additional services such as the Web interface and network management capabilities. IT managers should consult the installation checklist beforehand.
The MetaFrame Management Console is the centralized management tool used to administer the MetaFrame server farms. Although Citrix provides a command-line utility for adding multiple licenses and activation, the process can be a chore for larger sites. Overall, we found the Management Console efficient. We could effortlessly publish applications, manage server resources and monitor server loads across the farm.
Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.