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Citrix Tries to Transition to The Virtual World

Citrix has built a successful business by delivering solutions that minimize the amount of software that users run on their desktops. Because the industry is embracing virtualization, the company is in the process of dramatically retooling its lineup.Citrix has garnered the position as the leading thin client supplier. Its products have been popular among small and medium businesses because its centralized approach to application distribution tends to lower maintenance costs and provides robust security. The underlying technology is based on principles that are more almost two decades old, so the vendor has been under pressure to retool it. Last August, the vendor paid a premium price, $500 million, to purchase virtualization vendor XenWorks, whose products will play a central role as the company moves forward.

Citrix expanded its Citrix Delivery Center product family with three new products: the Citrix Branch Repeater, the Citrix Desktop Receiver, and the Citrix App Receiver. Developed with Microsoft, the Branch Repeater pushes streamed applications out of the data center to the branch office, thus eliminating WAN network charges. The Desktop Receiver enables lightweight desktop appliances, laptops, full desktop to run XenDesktop virtual desktops, where virtual desktop images are stored centrally on Citrix's XenDesktop servers and delivered on demand to remote machines. App Receiver is client software that communicates with the centralized applications, which can be either Windows or Web based. It also has APIs for plug-ins from third-parties  support is expected to be unveiled later this year.

Citrix stands at an important crossroad. The company has thrown its hat squarely into the virtualization market, an area where it has only peripheral expertise. VMware has been dominating that arena and there has been no indication that it will soon surrender its turf. In addition, Microsoft plans to move into that market segment. Whether or not its new products are attractive enough for Citrix to gain a top position in the emerging market is unclear. What is evident is that the company has been a prime supplier of computing solutions to small and medium businesses, so they need to monitor its plans.

Does your company rely on Citrix products? What are its main attributes? What do you think of the companys move into the virtualization market?