Citrix Busts Mobile Move

Vendor widens WAN optimization target with launch of software client for laptops and PCs

May 21, 2007

3 Min Read
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As more end-users leave their cubicles to become road warriors, Citrix is one of a number of vendors extending WAN optimization technology to mobile devices. (See WAN Optimizers Lap Up Laptops, Users Rally Round Remote Solutions, Portable Problems Prompt IT Spending, and The Portable Puzzle.)

Citrix will use the Interop trade show in Las Vegas this week to unveil a software client for its Citrix WANScaler product line, which is built on technology acquired from Orbital Data. (See Citrix Completes Deal, Intriguing Equation, and Citrix Grabs Orbital Data.) The software will be used on PCs and laptops to optimize the performance of applications such as SAP.

The idea is that the WANScaler client establishes a link with a data center-based WANScaler appliance, which is then used to speed up traffic across the network. (See Citrix Widens WAN Strategy.)

"I shouldnt lose the benefits of WAN optimization when I work out of the office," says Greg Smith, Citrix's senior director of product marketing. He claims "a pretty extensive" list of firms are beta testing the WANScaler client, though he won't identify them.

The vendor will also be demonstrating the client's ability to work with its SSL VPN Access Gateway at Interop. "This is part of our broader strategy of application security," says Smith. "We have engineered our WANScaler client to interoperate with IPSec and SSL VPN."The move to mobile has its tradeoffs. At this stage, using both SSL encryption and WAN optimization on a laptop requires the installation of two separate clients. "The downside is that you have to load two pieces of client-side software, but the upside is that, if you only need one of the clients, you don't have this big fat client with a bunch of capabilities that you don't need," says Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa.

Citrix is one of a growing number of vendors to go down the mobile optimization route. Earlier this year, for example, Blue Coat unveiled a software version of its SG appliance for laptops. (See Blue Coat Intros Software and WAN Optimization Gone Wild.)

Blue Coat at least appears to have the pricing edge over Citrix, with its SG Client selling at between $20 and $85 per user. Pricing for Citrix's WANScaler client, which will be available sometime in Q3, will be between $50 and $170 per user, depending on the size of the deployment.

Another vendor that has moved into this space is Packeteer, which incorporated its Mobiliti client (a file acceleration tool formerly from Tacit) in the same software package with its SkyX offering, which boosts TCP/IP applications. (See WAN Optimization Inches On, Packeteer Integrates SkyX, Mobiliti, and Packeteer Picks Tacit.)

Rival Riverbed recently told Byte and Switch that it is planning to expand into the laptop arena sometime in the second half of this year, and the technology is also on Juniper's roadmap. (See Juniper Outlines Strategy.)Despite this flurry of activity, a scenario where multiple pieces of client software reside happily on the same laptop is still some way off, according to Gartner's Skorupa. "The Windows environment is not well-constrained for running clients, [vendors] don't have a clear standard, a well-defined way to do it," he says. "It will be a while before you can mix and match any-to-any."

— James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Blue Coat Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BCSI)

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • Gartner Inc.

  • Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR)

  • Orbital Data Corp.

  • Packeteer Inc. (Nasdaq: PKTR)

  • Riverbed Technology Inc.

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