The promise of accessing corporate desktop applications across an extended enterprise from almost any client will get a significant boost this year when Citrix Systems ships its Program Neighborhood suite of products in the second quarter.
Program Neighborhood will ship with the next version of Citrix's MetaFrame and WinFrame products, version 1.8, in the second quarter. It will include two main system management utilities, Resource Management Services and Installation Management Services.
The applications will allow system administrators to publish applications on servers and push the applications down to selected users according to predetermined access rights.
"It's a great way to distribute applications," said Rick Smith, chief technology officer at the Cheesecake Factory, a restaurant chain with headquarters in Calabasas, California.
Once deployed on the application server, a client logging into the network would see an icon in their program management window to access the program.
"Users won't have to deal with the confusing (Windows) NT interface. All they will get is the Program Manager window," said Traver Kennedy, director of advanced business development at Citrix. "And users will only see the programs they have access to. In the past, there were icons on the desktop they couldn't access."
Citrix Installation Management Services will also give IT organisations the capability to install an application just once, to one server, and automatically distribute it to dozens of other servers or server farms, no matter where they are located on the network.
Citrix Resource Management Services will allow IT managers to monitor usage for internal department billing.
Currently, Citrix Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) clients, which can be downloaded off the company's Web site and are about 450Kbyte, include ICA for Windows CE devices, Windows 3.1, Windows 95/98 as well as DOS, Linux, and SCO Unix clients.
The company is also preparing to launch an ICA client for Palm devices, Kennedy said.
Using one set of desktop applications deployed from a server to hundreds of desktops has the additional benefit of making year 2000 compliance simpler, saidJanice Roberts, director of client business development at Citrix.