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Citrix Grabs Orbital Data

Citrix Systems has become the latest company to buy its way into the WAN/WAFS optimization space. The software company said today it plans to pay $50 million in cash, plus a vested interest in some stock-based instruments, to acquire WAN optimization vendor Orbital Data by the close of the third quarter. (See Citrix Acquires Orbital.)

Citrix was attracted to Orbital in part because, in addition to offering WAN optimization appliances, it has managed to create software that duplicates the functions of those appliances on a regular PC. Orbital's software will tally nicely with Citrix's remote-site software approach.

According to Mark Templeton, CEO of Citrix, the acquisition adds an important building block in what Citrix aims to make an "end to end application delivery infrastructure" for remote users. On a conference call with financial analysts today, he said that 55 percent of workers access applications remotely -- and that's the market Citrix is after.

Analyst Joe Skorupa of Gartner says Citrix has been building up to this. "Citrix has changed its focus from client/server applications and terminal servers to access to information, regardless of its location," he explains. The purchase of NetScaler last year gave Citrix the ability to support not just client/server but browser-based apps. Now it has another linchpin in securing and optimizing application connectivity.

But it's not yet clear how Citrix will actually differentiate itself in this burgeoning market. Its move is the latest in a frenzy of acquisitions that bring WAN optimization and wide area file services (WAFS) to a range of products. The list of acquirers includes Cisco, Packeteer, F5, Expand, Riverbed, and Juniper. (See Cisco Acts on Actona, Cisco Chomps FineGround, Packeteer Picks Tacit, Expand Snaps Up DiskSites, F5 Hits Accelerator, F5 Snaps Up Swan Labs, and Users Rally Round Remote Solutions.)

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