Thursday, January 15, 2009

Expanding a Point

I thought I'd expand on one of yesterday's postings; that which alluded to Citrix's killer app status slipping as the competition have caught up.

I've always been a fan of the possibilities of thin-client computing. The picture that Citrix paint - and deliver, to be fair, in many places - of an IT infrastructure with a smaller TCO, a smaller carbon footprint and centralized administration: who isn't waiting to be converted?

So when I came here and found a legacy Citrix environment - Metaframe XP FR3, two years out of support but still happily chugging along, supporting a couple of hundred users quite happily - one of the first things I looked at was updating this and asking the questions: What else can I do with this? Can we expand our thin-client useage, save money on our clients and our power bill, reduce our carbon footprint and be responsible global citizens? And unfortunately, to all of those questions, the answers were not enough and no.

Citrix do quite a good job of pointing out the cost / benefits of a thin-client network. But who, I ask, can afford to chuck their existing fat clients in the bin, and start again? Who can afford to run two networks side-by-side - because that's what we found we would almost need to do. Yes, we could look to savings three years down the track, when our current desktop refresh cycle reached it's end. But for a public sector organisation, especially one in up to its neck in the financial mire - three years is forever.

The real killers though, are Microsoft and Procurve. Microsoft because their new Windows Server 2008 does everything XP FR3 did (albeit without the crap that no-one used, like application billing). Procurve have finally been unleashed by HP and allowed to compete with Cisco, who have started making grumbling noises sounding like Cisco are going to kcick off their own range of Blade Servers, but that's bye-the-bye. Net result: when our network infrastructure reached the end of its lease, we were able to deliver gigabit to the desktop at two-thirds the cost of the Cisco offering - which offered less.

So the extra bandwidth that Terminal Services - or whatever Microsoft are calling it now - is going to consume doesn't matter any more. Citrix is looking pretty dead.

The final nail in the coffin is the ability of the machines now reaching the end of their lives, ones which we traditionally stuck a Citrix client on and punted to the backroom staff, so they could still have a reasonable user experience on old hardware. With 2ghz P4's now coming into retirement - where's the need?

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