Citrix announces secure access, password tools

Citrix Systems Inc. has released new products it hopes will help widen its role in the enterprise.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based vendor announced a new release of its key product with Citrix MetaFrame Access Suite, which includes MetaFrame XP Presentation Server Feature Release 3 and MetaFrame Presentation Server for Unix. The company also introduced the upcoming MetaFrame Secure Access, MetaFrame Conferencing Manager, a collaboration tool, and MetaFrame Password Manager, a single sign-on application.

The company’s MetaFrame product provides companies with a way to connect to applications, which is critical as computing environments continue to grow in complexity, said David Jones, the senior vice-president of corporate development for Citrix in Fort Lauderdale.

“As a new wave of computing happens, it just gets piled on to what existed before; it doesn’t replace it,” he said.

The new products will build on Citrix’s existing capabilities in providing access and business continuity, said David Wright, the Mississauga, Ont.-based area vice-president for Canada at Citrix.

The new release will be Microsoft Windows Server 2003-compliant.

Citrix’s greatest challenge has been its thin client approach, forcing customers to change the way they operate, said Steve Kleynhans, a vice-president at analyst firm Meta Group in Toronto.

“It will always limit them,” he said, adding that Citrix has a lot of pieces that help clean up the user experience.

Citrix’s main competitor is Microsoft’s Windows Terminal Server, which will be on its third release with the upcoming launch of Windows Server 2003.

“A lot of customers are saying, ‘Do we still have to pay for Citrix?'” Kleynhans said. The answer will probably be yes – though Terminal Server does compete with MetaFrame, it’s not necessarily Microsoft’s goal to take over Citrix’s space, he said.

“I don’t think Microsoft has a goal when it comes to Citrix. They’re blissfully unaware.”

While Citrix keeps its eyes on Microsoft, it also tries to keep out of the line of fire, said Gene Phifer, the vice-president of research at analyst group Gartner Inc. in Plano, Tex.

“That’s what you do when you fight the likes of Microsoft,” he said.

Citrix’s CEO Mark Templeton, however, didn’t appear to have any concerns. Last year was a great year for Citrix’s relationship with Microsoft, he said, speaking during a media event to launch the MetaFrame Access Suite. Citrix is a Microsoft Global Gold Certified Partner for Software Products.

Though Joseph Haynes hasn’t yet checked out Citrix’s new releases, he says its products have made his life much easier, and the operation of his organization much smoother. Haynes is the director of systems and property at Markham, Ont.-based Kinark Child & Family Services, a children’s mental health centre that helps children with behavioural and emotional problems across southeastern Ontario.

The agency has eight offices and other remote locations, such as group homes and schools. Kinark had eight separate Novell networks prior to December 2001. Between those offices, the only connection was an analogue dialup for e-mail. The server in the corporate office would call each of the local servers, pick up e-mail for the other locations, and then call those locations. Kinark also had eight separate databases for its client information system because there was no connectivity to the network. On a monthly basis, those separate databases had to report to the main corporate database so the agency as a whole could send a monthly report to the province. This took a lot of time, Haynes said.

Also, a lot of Kinark’s workers had to go out into the community to client homes and then come back to the office to input the client’s notes. They were not allowed to use their own home computers because of virus and security concerns.

Supporting the sites was also difficult. The agency had only one person to look after all of the remote networks, so when there was a problem, Haynes would either have to drive out to the office or call up the local secretary and talk him or her through the process of fixing the system.

Citrix allowed Kinark to bring all of the servers back to corporate, and instead roll out thin clients to the remote offices. This allowed staff, no matter where they were, to connect to their database and update their client information. It also gave them access to their e-mail no matter where they were. The agency’s workers can now also use their home computers to log in. The software prevents them from saving information on floppies or C drives, keeping the information protected, Haynes said.

A problem that once might have taken two hours to fix can now be corrected in two minutes, Haynes said. It also means less travelling.

Because it used to be a Novell shop, Kinark thought about putting a wide area network across Novell, and using Novell’s NDS. But the bandwidth that would have been needed made Kinark rethink the idea and look to Citrix instead.

Haynes believes the Citrix solution will pay for itself over five years and said that the roll out went smoothly.

“For anybody with remote issues and bandwidth issues from those remote areas, Citrix is a wonderful product. I wish we had gone to it before, because it would have saved a lot of headaches over the years.”

Secure Access Manager will be available at the end of the month, while Conferencing Manager and Password Manager will be available in Q2. For details, visit the company at