Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Citrix Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS), today announced they plan to expand their existing partnership in access and end-to-end application delivery to make computing faster, more secure and more cost-effective for employees in branch office locations. The two companies will collaborate on developing and marketing a new multifunction Citrix branch office appliance based on the Microsoft® Windows Server® operating system and Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server and utilizing the recently announced Citrix® WANScaler™ solution.
The planned joint solution represents a new type of branch office appliance that combines advanced wide area network (WAN) optimization technologies with consolidated branch office services in a single, multifunction appliance that is easy to administer remotely. This combination helps solve a major problem for customers that cannot be solved today with traditional networking solutions or individual point products and that Microsoft and Citrix are uniquely able to address with their technologies, channel partners and customer reach.
The joint marketing and development plan comes amid growing trends in both branch office IT consolidation and increased mobility among branch office and remote workers. An estimated 55 percent of enterprise employees today access all of their mission-critical business applications from a remote office location, according to Citrix’s research. Before these applications reach the intended user, they must travel long distances over wide-area networks (WANs), a process that can significantly degrade performance, impact the user experience and force expensive bandwidth upgrades. Support for workers in locations beyond headquarters is a major challenge for corporate IT departments.
The new initiative builds on an already extensive partnership between these two market leaders and is the first step in a long-term plan by the two companies to collaborate on other Windows®-based application delivery and access solutions.
Citrix has long had a symbiotic relationship with Microsoft in the niche of using Windows server operating systems as hosts for thin clients – i.e. the end user applications actually ran on the server and results were displayed on client terminals. It’s sort of the old mainframe dumb terminal updated for the PC era.
However, to provide an equivalent look and feel to a regular Windows PC a good deal of data has to be transferred between the thin client and the server which puts a premium on bandwidth and makes it tougher when the connection is via WAN rather than LAN. This announcement is based on Citrix’s acquisition of Orbital Data whose WAN acceleration technology for this purpose is being reintroduced as the Citrix WANScaler. The magic behind the curtain is data compression and protocol optimization and it is useful for general WAN traffic like file transfers as well as the terminal scenario.