Citrix to target branch offices, with help from Microsoft

Citrix and Microsoft have announced an extension to their partnership aimed at making computing faster, more secure and cost effective for enterprises with branch office networks. More specifically the two companies will collaborate on the joint development of an, as yet, un-named Citrix branch office appliance.

The new appliance will be based on the Windows Server operating system and will employ both Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) server and the recently announced Citrix WAN optimisation solution, WANScaler.

"This is another major step in delivering on our overall access strategy and in meeting the needs of our customers in the branch office," said Ted Kummert, corporate VP of the Security, Access and Solutions Division at Microsoft.

"Citrix is a strong, trusted partner, and its technology and market success in application networking complements our expertise and leadership in server technologies and core networking services."

WANscaler uses technology originally developed by Orbital Data, acquired by Citrix earlier this month, to optimise the flow of application data across WAN connections.

According to Citrix, an estimated 55 per cent of enterprise employees routinely access mission critical systems from remote offices and in a recent report IDC predicts that the market for WAN optimisation technology will grow from $314million in 2004 to $610 million by 2009, a compound growth rate of 19.1%

The market leaders in this sector are Packeteer with its PacketShaper appliance and Peribit . Cisco and Nortel also have WAN optimisation solutions, with Orbital Data among a clutch of much smaller players.

Orbital Data was a good match for Citrix as its technology is particularly good at improving the performance of client/server and Web applications delivered using Citrix Presentation Server. Internal Citrix tests have shown it to improve performance by up to five times, particularly when it comes to tasks such as printing, involving large data transfers.

According to Citrix WANScaler also differs from much of the competition in being a network transparent technology that doesn't rely on tunnelling of network protocols. As such it doesn't interfere with QoS and other bandwidth management mechanisms providing additional benefits for emerging applications such as voice and video.