Allegrix xeros in on citrix

A breakthrough in Windows 2000 may give an ASP start-up just the opening it need to deliver an internet business solution that may threaten the position of the big ones, such as Citrix Systems.

ASP start-up Allegrix says it has designed a way to deliver Windows 2000 applications over the Internet using only Microsoft technologies - a new breakthrough for which Allegrix has filed patents.

Allegrix claims that the software eliminates the need for Citrix Systems' MetraFrame, a multiuser Windows 2000 package that allows all types of clients to access hosted Windows applications. Metraframe and its precursor, known as WinFrame, are very popular within businesses that want to minimize annual desktop upgrade costs.

Now, Allegrix is looking to cut into Citrix's market. The company says it will license its technology to partners that want the ability to manage "software neighborhoods" for customers. Allegrix says its technology, which may gain patent status, allows an organization to view hosted apps through almost any type of client.

Allegrix supports multiple server platforms, but Windows 2000 has emerged as a prime opportunity. The company calls Windows 2000 a "breakthrough" because Microsoft has eliminated much of the "black-box" construction of Windows NT. Unlike NT, Allegrix says it actually can work with Windows 2000's guts. The company claims to have built bridges between ActiveX, Active Server Pages, Active Directory, SQL Server and Windows Terminal Services (WTS).

Ironically, WTS is based on technology that Microsoft licensed from Citrix in 1997, as part of a five-year, $175 million joint marketing and development effort.

Allegrix's attempt to take on Citrix is no small task. Citrix has more than 100,000 customers, including the entire Fortune 100 and 90 percent of the Fortune 500. Citrix also has 8,000 resellers and partners.

Moreover, Citrix says it won't be left out in the cold when its Microsoft deal expires in May 2002. "The revenue we receive from Microsoft is a minority of our revenue stream," says Steve Piper, a senior product manager at Citrix. "And MetaFrame has an extremely high attach rate to Windows Terminal Services." In other words, companies that deploy WTS tend to purchase MetaFrame, as well.

Regardless, Allegrix is bullish about its prospects and Microsoft's position. "Windows 2000 shows the shape of things to come," says Allegrix VP Mike Foster. "If I need to download huge documents, I could log on at Kinkos and load up my virtual application center and get into Windows 2000 and do my print jobs in the store."

Allegrix sells its ASP services completely through partners, which handle all aspects of Allegrix's relationships with customers, and currently is seeking its second round of funding.

To be safe, Allegrix has not bet the farm on Microsoft. The company can run character, X-based and Windows apps, and has partnerships with IBM, Informix, Great Plains, Progress Software and Tarantella.

Joseph C. Panettieri contributed to this story.

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