Citrix Updates Recent Acquisitions

The company announces new versions of the NetScaler application delivery product and the Citrix Access Gateway SSL VPN.

Citrix Systems Inc. at its iForum Global 2005 user conference on Monday polished up a pair of recent acquisitions in the application acceleration and security space.

Citrix announced a new version of the NetScaler application delivery product, acquired in June, that is geared specifically for small- and midsize enterprises. The company also launched a new release of its Citrix Access Gateway SSL VPN offering acquired late last year with Net6 Inc.

Both offerings from acquired companies execute on the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Companys strategy to appeal to a broader set of customers as well as to offer a deeper set of products to its installed base of server-based computing customers, according to Michael Suby, program manager at Stratecast Partners in San Antonio, Texas.

"(Users) want solutions or systems that provide a combination of connectivity, security and performance. This will unfold over the next couple of years where those technologies will come together under one roof. Citrix recognizes they have to expand their relationships with existing customers and develop relationships with new customers," he said.

The Standard Edition of the Citrix NetScaler application accelerator is designed to provide a broader range of application performance-boosting technologies for organizations with 25 to 500 application users.

"It provides load balancing, manages traffic with application layer information and does application compression and SSL offload as well as a number of optimizations for TCP to speed delivery," said Greg Smith, senior director of product marketing for networking at Citrix. "As small and medium enterprises needed increased application delivery, their options were limited to near-commodity load balancers that could distribute traffic but do very little to improve the performance of that application traffic."

With a starting price of $17,499, the more full-featured application accelerator brings greater performance into the reach of smaller companies, according to Brad Pollard, director of IT at SourceFire Inc. in Columbia, Md.

"It doesnt mean the availability of our applications is any less important. We have a lot of extranets that need to be up 100 percent of the time. This gives me the ability to build a small server farm, but (still be prepared for) usage to go up exponentially," Pollard said.

Despite its late entry into the application acceleration space, Citrix does have an opportunity to expand its presence there, believes Peter Christy, industry analyst with Internet Research Group, in Los Altos, Calif. "Companies like F5 [Networks Inc.] only in the last two years became even measurable by the size of what Citrix is doing. With people like F5 and Cisco jumping in with both feet, the battle should be interesting," he said.

The Citrix Access Gateway release 4.2 adds five enhancements to the product, which Citrix first launched in January. Already Citrix has managed to replace competing IPSec VPN technology from Cisco in at least one of its Presentation Server accounts, thanks to the ease of configuration, according to Dennis Blazek IT Manager at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in Englewood, Colo.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about HP and Citrix combining identity and access management technology.

The Cisco VPN worked, "but trying to get someone set up on it is more of a pain than what I think it should be. How easy (the Citrix SSL VPN) was to set up people on it seemed almost too good to be true. It doesnt matter what platform (a user is on). I can get them in," he said.

Of the five enhancements, Blazek sees support for mobile devices such as Microsoft, Palm and Blackberry PDAs as most promising. "That keeps the options open," he said.

Citrix also added centralized administration for multiple Access Gateways, a common user portal to allow users to access applications, support for third-party portals such as Microsofts SharePoint or IBMs WebSphere, and multiple language support.

It is due by years end and starts at $2,495 plus $99 per concurrent user.

Citrix also at its user conference introduced a 64-bit version of the Citrix Presentation Server.

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