Citrix adds grid to thin-client diet

Citrix is no longer all about thin clients, according to its chief executive. Instead, it wants to be seen as a company that enables deployment of utility and grid computing

Citrix said on Tuesday that it wants to shake off its image as a thin client company because product developments have changed it into an on-demand or utility computing enabler.

At its annual iForum conference in Florida, Mark Templeton, chief executive of Citrix, said that thin clients are only a "miniature piece" of the overall picture. "Don't think of us as thin client. In all of history less than three million thin clients have been sold and today we are serving more than 50 million users. It is not about thin clients, it is about access," said Templeton.

Since the company was founded in 1989, Citrix's products have allowed applications to be executed on a server while multiple users access those applications from remote terminals. Because the processing is done on the server, this not only reduces client hardware and maintenance costs, but also increases security. Fourteen years later, most large server makers such as IBM, HP and Sun are touting on-demand or utility computing, which enables large organisations to either increase or reduce their IT capacity as required, ensuring they only pay for the computing resources that are in demand. Citrix believes its technology is ideally positioned to take full advantage of this trend.

During his keynote address, Templeton told delegates that Citrix has launched a £10m advertising campaign to help get the message across: "Thin clients, fat clients, network clients or whatever you want to call them -- we want to support all of them because all of them perform suitable tasks in the enterprise."

Citrix's chief technology officer Bob Kruger demonstrated how using the processing power of a desktop could help make streaming video from a server work better: "We are using some of the facilities that are on the desktop, such as the Windows media player, even though we are [running the other applications] on the server. We are leveraging the processing horsepower where it makes sense," he said. "We are effectively adding a layer of control and that is one of the main points of what we are really doing."

Templeton denied that the company is moving away from its foundations. Instead, he said, the company is helping organisations make the most efficient use of their available resources: "It's not the server versus the client, it is about how we leverage each one to its advantage. We want to give people the best possible experience of access to the task that they need to do," he said.

"Real time, virtual, on demand, adaptive, grid and utility computing -- whenever you hear these words and ideas, think about Citrix as the partner that will make your on-demand enterprise work," added Templeton.