Citrix eyes out-of-the-box portal

Singing a different tune in the crowded market for enterprise portals, Citrix Systems Inc. this week introduced a portal access server designed to deploy quickly and without a team of service consultants.

NFuse Elite provides data and application access via an XML-based framework that can be installed in less than one hour, according to Citrix officials. The product features a wizard-based installation process that eliminates the need for advanced programming for deployment and allows administrators to configure the set-up for servers, users, pages, and roles at any time.

Other ease-of-use features include a sample portal that allows administrators to create a working default portal page that can be used out-of-the box, and a group importation feature designed to easily import already established Microsoft Windows and Active Directory groups to populate NFuse Elite portal roles.

The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based company is attempting to parlay its success in Windows-based application access to the portal space. Citrix purchased enterprise portal provider Sequoia in April of last year, and has since been refining the XML-based portal framework with ease-of-use and application access enhancements, according to Bob Kruger, senior vice-president of product development and CTO at Citrix.

Citrix plans to tap its vast channel organization of more than 7,000 resellers, systems integrators, and distributors to gain portal market penetration.

“We are focused on the issue of access. Access is the primary value point enterprises need to run their business,” Kruger said. “The NFuse elite access portal server facilitates that access, and joined with our MetaFrame technology provides transparent access to applications, services, information, and processes regardless of origin, network type, or device.”

Moreover, users can plug other systems into NFuse Elite, using XML or standards-based tools such as Microsoft’s Visual Studio .Net, Kruger added.

Citrix’s approach to provide deep application access via a simplified UI is an interesting direction for the portal space, according to Rob Perry, senior analyst at The Yankee Group, in Boston.

“[Citrix is] focused not on bringing data into areas of the portal screen, but on letting you access applications,” Perry said. “Rather than just retrieve data or send data back and forth, you can actually interact with the enterprise and desktop applications through their underlying technology.”

Citrix also announced a content arrangement with ScreamingMedia to provide information services and content as part of the NFuse Elite portal for one year. ScreamingMedia’s content includes news feeds, stock quotes, and weather forecasts.