And so to Citrix iForum 2004, in sunny Edinburgh. (Actually, it's not sunny at all - my hopes of catching Venus in transit are dashed by being in the only part of the Kingdom locked beneath a cold, grey sea fog. Haar haar.) We see before us a company stretching its wings a little in the marketing sunlight as it emerges from its 'only known by nerds' image. Not only has it acquired some retail products -- GotoMyPC and friends -- but it has commissioned expensive market surveys and started to have big fun with branding. The Citrix logo has acquired red blobs -- one above the I and one below -- and the red blob itself has been liberated. All over the show, blobness abounds, each containing Citrix' favourite word: access.
Yes, access is the theme. Access here, access there, access everywhere. Except the press room. Journalists poured in from around the world -- well, London, Bath and Holland -- to find five Wyse terminals blinking merrily in the corner. Could they connect to a chap's works VPN? They could not. Not that it mattered too much, since there was a wireless LAN permeating the aether. Security still to the fore, we were given little cards with access codes printed on -- nothing had been left to chance. The security was further enhanced by the network giving all the appearances of being a working wireless LAN, right up to the point where you wanted to send or receive a packet. At that point, for our comfort, convenience and safety, the ether went silent.
A man appeared, clutching a network tester. Time to cut to the chase. "I can see the SSID, but DHCP isn't returning any IP config info" I said. "Um." he said.
But then we had to hustle out and see the keynote. We started with 10 minutes of kicking house music with bouncing red blobs all across the stage -- possibly to soften up the delegates, some still visibly impressed by last night's sampling of Scotland's most famous export. All the usual keynote components were present and correct, including a promotional video. This was a re-run of one shown at a previous iForum, and was an example of the Babylon Five school of IT promotions. A space cadet in a dark, close-fitting shirt issued commands imperiously at various electronic devices, valiantly videoconferenced through static and pulled it off -- only instead of directing Star Furies against the Centauri battle fleet he was moving GPS-12 units from a warehouse in Denver to a customer in Tokyo. "Two years ago, that was science fiction," said the Citrix guy, manfully glossing over the way that for most of us, getting wireless networking going required a pointy-eared alien with a tricorder.
The other high point of the keynote was Keith Turnbull, the English VP of product development, who launched into an animated description of security woes in the wired corporate. Home computers on the work LAN were particularly troublesome, he said. Why, he had to keep removing Kazaa from his PC because his daughter insisted on installing it. This was a brave admission, given the RIAA's habit of suing 12-year-olds for their pocket money: I mean, my teenaged son runs a worldwide black market in nuclear materials and white slavery from his bedroom over my broadband link, but do you catch me dobbing him in in public? You do not, and as long as I get my Friday Manilla you will not.
The rest of the day is meetings, round tables, exhibition wanderings and repeated failed attempts to kick the wireless LAN into action. In the end, I liberate the wired network and the power supply connection from one of the Wyse terminals and jack in directly with my little laptop. Access all areas, matey.