Citrix Prototype Speeds Java

BOSTON (06/07/2000) - At JavaOne, Citrix Systems Inc. this week is showing prototype technology that lets its MetaFrame software run Java applications much faster than is currently possible.

The new software lets the Solaris version of MetaFrame share various server-based resources, such as memory, among multiple user connections that are accessing a Java application on the server.

After the first user connects, each successive connection requires much less memory, and loads and runs faster than would be the case without the optimizing software, says Jon Rolls, a Citrix senior product manager.

With MetaFrame, applications run on the server and the user interface display is transmitted back over the net to the client device using the Citrix ICA protocol. Via ICA, a client can use MetaFrame to run Windows applications on multiuser versions of Windows NT (such as Windows 2000 Terminal Services) or Unix or X.11 or Java applications on Sun Solaris servers.

Because Java programs run on the Solaris server, end users aren't hit with the lengthy download times and local memory and CPU resources needed today to run them on a desktop PC, Rolls says.

A related benefit is that even very large Java applications, because they run on the server, can be accessed by client devices that lack the resources needed to run these locally. These devices can be either older PCs or the most recent handheld personal digital assistants.

In a simple demonstration on the JavaOne exhibit hall floor, Rolls monitored the memory demands of successive clients logging into a MetaFrame server. The first client, after a lengthy delay while that Java program loaded on the server, used about 21M bytes of memory. But sessions for the second and third clients loaded noticeably faster and each needed only about 9M bytes.

When the sixth client connects, the new software triggers MetaFrame to launch a new copy of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), which then takes the next five clients and so on. The number of JVMs and the number of users are limited mainly by the server's memory capacity, Rolls says.

Citrix engineers modified the MetaFrame JVM to handle this kind of "multiplexing" of several users.

Rolls says the new software is currently only a research project, still in development. No final decisions have been made as to how or when it will be introduced as a Citrix product.


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