Microsoft, Citrix Partnership Navigates Turbulent Waters - InformationWeek

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Microsoft, Citrix Partnership Navigates Turbulent Waters

Citrix introduced new products designed to help businesses extend Microsoft's client/server applications to partners and customers. The two companies say their 15-year relationship is going strong, even though Microsoft products are starting to include the capabalities Citrix is now selling as value-add.

Microsoft and Citrix Systems held a virtual lovefest at the latter’s iForum event in Las Vegas this week to persuade attendees that their 15-year partnership will continue to bear fruit, not sour grapes.

At the annual conference, Citrix rolled out its first x64 version of Citrix Presentation Server for Windows Server 2003 x64 and said it will ship an upgrade of Presentation Server, code-named Ohio, for Windows Server 2003 R2 in 2006.

That will offer significant value to customers and partners, enabling them to publish and extend client/server applications over the extranet to outside partners and suppliers, one Citrix executive said at the conference on Tuesday. The new federation services in R2, due to ship in December, offer single sign-on for Web applications only.

On stage, the two companies demonstrated integration between early Presentation Server code and the Microsoft Office 12 beta. And in the iForum tech lab, they also showed off a Citrix ICA client running on Microsoft's Windows Vista beta desktop code.

Despite Microsoft's stated intent to integrate into Longhorn Server technologies that mimic two of Presentation Server's most valuable jewels--application publishing and seamless windows--there’s no chill in the relationship and collaboration continues unabated, executives of both companies insisted.

Citrix CEO Mark Templeton said he’s not worried about the potential shadow cast by the 800-pound gorilla on his sunny software landscape. And he doesn’t believe the partnership with Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft will lapse into a deep freeze.

Like many ISVs that sense impending competition from Microsoft, Citrix sees the pie growing for all partners, and Templeton predicts that Microsoft won't bite a chunk out of his company’s revenue stream.

"We really don’t have concerns. We've always had a partnership with Microsoft that allows us to understand their direction, and when it comes to broad, horizontal, basic services markets, they're great at it," Templeton told CRN in an interview. "If I want to be a partner of Microsoft, I can't have angst around Microsoft going after these broad, horizontal services."

To that end, Citrix is developing a set of technologies code-named Constellation, also announced this week, that will offer advanced application virtualization features and unique application delivery to a broad spectrum of client/server, Web and desktop applications on various platforms and devices.

Citrix also demonstrated an on-demand application streaming technology code-named Tarpon that will eliminate application incompatibilities and push bits down to the desktop in isolated environments for online and offline viewing. In that market niche, the technology would compete against pioneer Softricity and AppStream.

Still, Citrix is aware that customers and channel partners are concerned about the short- and long-term impact of Longhorn Server on the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company’s relationship with Microsoft.

For example, on Tuesday, representatives from Citrix and Microsoft held a special joint session at iForum to highlight the future of their partnership and unveil new fruits of their combined labor. Those included the x64 edition of Citrix Presentation Server and two free offerings: the Web Interface for Microsoft SharePoint and the Citrix Presentation Server Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005.

Citrix's SharePoint Interface seamlessly embeds Presentation Server-based applications into Microsoft's SharePoint Portal. An installable SharePoint Web Part, the interface has been available as a technical preview since July, and it was announced completed and ready for download this week.

Microsoft and Citrix also this week jointly announced formal availability of the Presentation Server Management Pack for MOM 2005. The pack enables joint customers to monitor, collect, filter and analyze data from Citrix Presentation 3.0 and 4.0 servers and server farms from within Microsoft's management and monitoring platform. Citrix is developing a similar Web interface for Java-based portals, including WebSphere and SAP, and many ISVs have developed management packs for MOM based on a set of available APIs from Microsoft.

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