Citrix has been steadily moving away from the reputation of being the “terminal server guys.” For the past year, 20% of Citrix business was networking including Netscaler, Branch Repeater, and Access Gateway. This is a great transition as the desktop OS moves towards the hybrid cloud and application centric computing.
There is an interesting pitch, that Citrix provides the only end to end solution, providing web access and branch office access to the virtual desktop. This is a bit of a stretch although the ability to offload a web interface from a Windows machine onto the NetScaler and move load balanced web access to an appliance seems to provide a much more secure and potentially robust solution than the VMware Security Server. Adding a load balancer to the View Solution could add cost if you don’t use some of the available open source load balancers. There is an added cost however with the NetScaler as well and the Netscaler is built to replace the free Secure Gateway solution that is built into XenDesktop. You do however get unlimited connection and the added access from the Citrix Receiver plug-in and the Branch Repeater plug-in. The one area that VMware can not provide is the Branch Repeater and Acceleration features. If a customer purchases XenDesktop Platinum Edition, they are able to get the Branch Repeater VPX for free a virtual appliance version of the Branch Repeater.
Branch Repeater gives the user visibility into 500+ applications, and you can auto configure it without changing Xendesktop. You can also prioritize by user groups or apps. That acceleration is a feature that sounds great and because it can be deployed as a virtual machine you could demo a proof of concept or acceleration without impacting your existing networking.
Probably the most intriguing product in the networking portfolio is the Citrix Receiver connection into SAAS apps leveraging the Open Cloud Access. This is very similar to VMware’s newly releasedHorizon App Manager. It utilizes SAML just like Horizon App Manager does to pass through authentication utilizing the token approach. This cNetombination with the Open Cloud Access is that next step into the application centric computing space of tomorrow. Another great transition from the terminal server space into the future.