LAS VEGAS USA: At Citrix Synergy 2009, the conference where virtualization, networking and application delivery meet, Citrix Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CTXS), announced the general availability of Citrix Receiver, a new lightweight software client that makes accessing virtual desktops and applications on any device as easy as turning on your TV.
Much like a satellite or cable TV receiver in a broadcast media service, Citrix Receiver allows IT organizations to deliver desktops and applications as an on-demand service to any device in any location with a rich “high-definition” experience. As long as employees have Citrix Receiver, IT no longer has to worry about whether they are delivering to a PC in the office, a Mac at home, or an iPhone on the road. This approach radically simplifies desktop management for IT and gives end users far more flexibility and independence in how and where they work.
Centralized Control for IT – Full Flexibility for Users
In the world of broadcast media, satellite and cable TV receivers are largely transparent to subscribers, silently receiving broadcast signals from head-end controllers, and responding to user requests for content. Their role is simple, yet profound, allowing subscribers to use the TV of their choice, and view standard, high-definition or pay-per-view content from any room in their home, while also giving the provider full control over service delivery.
Citrix Receiver functions in much the same way for corporate employees. Following an initial download and installation, Receiver sits quietly in the background and “listens” for signals from the corporate “delivery center”. This allows IT to deliver any app or desktop from Citrix Delivery Center head-end controllers like Citrix XenApp and Citrix XenDesktop, to any device with a Receiver installed.
Should employees want to access their work environment from a home PC or Mac laptop, they simply go to a URL given to them by IT and download a Receiver for that device as well. As long as Citrix Receiver is installed on a device, IT has complete control over security, performance, and user experience, allowing them to deliver IT services on-demand with no need to manage, own or care about the physical device or its location.
Citrix Receiver also provides great benefits for application developers and third-party application vendors who can now ensure their Windows applications will run on any end point that has a Receiver installed. This eliminates the need for them to build, test and support specific software clients for each unique user device and operating system. Using Receiver, end users can even access enterprise applications on their smart phone, regardless of whether their application vendors have a software client specifically designed for their device or not.
“Office and mobile professionals, many of whom rely heavily on Oracle products to do their jobs, will welcome the ability to access Oracle applications through Citrix Receiver from anywhere on any device,” said Tom Herrmann, vice president, Global ISV Management and Programs at Oracle. “We have worked with Citrix through our Application Integration Architecture for Partners initiative as they validate XenApp and Citrix Receiver to ensure that Oracle Applications' desktop functionality continues to be delivered regardless of the device they use -- whether PC or smartphone.”
How Citrix Receiver Works
Under the hood, Citrix Receiver is a lightweight universal software client with an extensible browser-like “plug-in” architecture. Receiver comes standard with a variety of optional plug-ins that communicate with head-end infrastructure in the Citrix Delivery Center product family such as XenApp, XenDesktop, Citrix Access Gateway and Branch Repeater.
These plug-ins support functionality such as online and off-line app usage, virtual desktop delivery, secure access control, password management, app acceleration, multimedia acceleration, service-level monitoring and voice communications. This model enables IT to effectively operate as a service provider to their own employees, proactively and transparently monitoring end-user experience from a central location.
Administration is provided by Citrix Merchandising Server, a new server component that manages the initial setup of Receiver for employees, provides centralized management of plug-ins, keeps plug-ins updated on each end point, manages web-based user support services, and offers robust reporting features. Because Merchandising Server is a virtual appliance, it’s easy to provision in any customer environment. Merchandising Server also includes tools for migrating existing Citrix customers from legacy implementations of Citrix software clients and user interfaces such as Citrix Program Neighborhood, PN Agent, and Web Interface.
From an end user standpoint, the one-time setup for Citrix Receiver is fast and familiar –- much like installing a player for Adobe Flash or Apple QuickTime. Users simply point their browser to a website provided to them by their IT department and follow the easy step-by-step instructions. Going from a fresh new PC or laptop to a fully provisioned user with all applications and desktops ready to use, typically requires less than 15 minutes.
Once installed, Receiver is always up-to-date as the latest versions of client software and plug-ins are automatically pushed to all users from the Merchandising Server based upon the policies set-up by IT and preferences chosen by the user.
HD Experience for Every User
Each of the Citrix Receiver plug-ins includes some aspect of Citrix HDX technology, designed to ensure a “high definition experience” for end users based on their unique requirements. This approach gives IT tremendous flexibility to match service levels to specific user needs.
Users who work only from a desktop PC in the office or at home, for example, may only need a standard HDX experience supported by a few basic plug-ins. Power users with more demanding requirements can be given an HDX+ experience by providing them with additional plug-ins that accelerate app performance while on the road, support the use of offline apps, and offer additional enhancements for voice and multi-media.
In all cases, Receiver abstracts the variables of each unique end point environment from the service delivery itself, resulting in significant cost savings for IT and a consistently great experience for employees.
Citrix Receiver is free and is available immediately for any Windows-based device, including PCs, laptops, netbooks and thin clients. Citrix Receiver for Apple’s iPhone is also available immediately as a free download from the Apple App Store. Citrix Receiver for Mac OS X, Windows Mobile and Symbian OS will be offered on a when and if available basis. Citrix Merchandising Server is also available today at no charge. Both Receiver and Merchandising Server require infrastructure products from the Citrix Delivery Center product family to complete their operations.