By Shane Schick

Citrix builds on MetaFrame momentum

Software firm explores enterprise information portal market

By Shane Schick

Citrix Systems Inc. is preparing to launch what executives call “”Act II”” of the company’s growth strategy, but its Canadian customers sound more cautious about adopting its latest product.

The company was in Toronto Wednesday to discuss the launch of its enterprise information portal product, NFuse Elite. Citrix is best known for making software called MetaFrame that allows enterprise companies to port Windows applications to non-Windows comptuers, information appliances and handhelds from a central server. Last year, however, the company completed the acquisition of extensible markup language (XML) specialist Sequoia Software, and is now trying to offer products that help customers better organize their applications and data.

David Wright, managing director of Citrix Canada in Mississauga, Ont., said the company has about 5,000 Canadian customers, working with approximately 400 VARs. Due to what he described as the transparency of MetaFrame, Wright said Citrix may not be as visible as other software firms. “”We don’t celebrate a dial tone,”” he said. “”We only pay attention to it when it’s not working.””

Wright said Citrix wants to work within its established customer base and show them how NFuse Elite could help provide a way of aggregating content in a secure environment. The portal product evolved from NFuse Classic, which had been offered as part of MetaFrame. Elite contains more features to customize and personalize content based on user feedback, said Tom Craig, Citrix’s senior director of product management.

Roy Brassington, technical analyst at Burnaby, B.C.-based Future Shop Ltd., said the retailer has been using NFuse Classic for several months, having installed MetaFrame to publish a variety of productivity applications.

“”I think the advantage (of NFuse Elite) is probably the quick implementation, from what I understand,”” he said. Future Shop, however, is already in the process of installing an Oracle portal product in the eight Best Buy stores its parent company plans to open over the next few months. “”We’re not even thinking about purchasing anything else right now.””

Joseph Haynes, director of technology at Toronto-based Kinark Child and Family Services, was similarly unsure how quickly the non-profit organization would consider trying the Citrix portal tool.

“”We haven’t though about it a lot,”” he said. “”Right now, the basic NFuse is meeting our needs. We have 500 remote users across the province. Being able to bring up Internet Explorer and have your apps right there makes things a lot easier.””

Wright and Craig said at least 50 customers were considering NFuse Elite, but admitted that more awareness would be needed. To a great extent, that will happen through its reseller channel, which will be offered a VAR program specific to the product.

“”It could be that Citrix needs to add another element to the marketing mix,”” he said. “”We’re going to see how it goes as we mine our existing channel.””



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