Hi, my name is Orestes Melgarejo. I am a Sr. Manager at Citrix in the Virtualization Systems Group (VSG – say that three times fast) and I lead the Presentation Server Product Management team. I just got back from iForum, our annual customer conference in Orlando and I am proud to announce that the reports of my product demise have been grossly exaggerated!
Throughout the event I got the distinct feeling from loyal Presentation Server customers and enthusiasts that there was not enough focus anymore on the company flagship product. This is understandable considering that just 2-3 years ago Presentation Server was just about all we had to talk about as a company. Sure there was the Suite, but this after all is essentially Presentation Server all blinged out with a few shiny accessories. Turn the calendar to iForum 2006 and we have 14 products to talk about. Presentation Server is still the flagship but there are several hot products that are growing fast like the Access Gateway and the hugely popular Goto products from our Online division. Hence the need to strike some balance between the VSG products and the newer products from our other business groups within Citrix.
While there were several sessions devoted to Presentation Server there was only one general breakout session of futures. We do this for obvious reasons – we tend to mostly talk about product versions that are available today and stick to the old motto of what on the truck The one futures session that we usually deliver goes into future technologies that we are working to deliver in the product. This year, I gave the only breakout session on Presentation Server futures and I was floored by the overwhelming response.
My session was titled Release of Citrix Presentation Server – Technology Preview It began at 10:00 on Tuesday morning and I did not see the size of the crowd right away. I was working with the recording specialist to set everything up. Citrix recorded most sessions using our own GotoMeeting product so that others could later view the content. When I looked up after the setup was complete, I was amazed by the overflow crowd at the back of one of the larger rooms at the conference center. I looked towards the front of the room to point folks to open seats only to find that all of them were taken and there were people actually sitting on the floor in between the 2 main sections. In my 5 iForums (or is it iFora? I have to check with the marketing guys) I have never seen a breakout session room like this. It was a standing-and-floor-sitting-room only crowd and I was pumped to see that even after all the diversification within Citrix products, customers and partners were still extremely interested in Presentation Server. There was a palpable energy in the room and I just hoped I would not disappoint while presenting the details of our upcoming release. I later found out that this was the highest attended breakout session this year with 586 people swiping their badges before shoe-horning themselves into the room.
The session went well and I noticed that I had everyone attention throughout which is difficult to do at iForum where there are so many distractions and so much with which to compete. I covered the major changes coming in the product. A few of the highlights were:
- Integration with the Citrix Streaming Technology codenamed – with this feature, customers will be able to stream applications to Presentation Server rather than install them. The key benefits are in reduced complexity for Presentation Server setup and in simplified application management. With application streaming to Presentation Server, customers will be able to deploy a basic image of OS plus Citrix components and have the applications delivered on-demand as users need them. Application updates are as simple as updating a single, central application install which is then accessed from each Presentation Server at application launch. With this combination, updates are done once for the entire farm and only application deltas are delivered to the servers as needed.
- SpeedScreen Progressive Display – a new technology that allows customers to deploy applications that allow users to view and manipulate 2D images and image slices as in CAD viewers or medical imaging applications. With this technology we dynamically trade-off image quality for improved image motion and interactivity during zooming, rotation or transition from image to image. The result is a near desktop like feel for the application performance even over lower bandwidth connections. I did a demo of this functionality showing the differences in performance for a PACS (medical images) viewer on 4.0 versus the latest Tech Preview and there were audible gasps from the audience.
- Configuration Logging – all administrative changes to the farm will be logged in a separate config logging database. This will be great for customers who need to keep track of these changes for compliance and audit logging purposes. You say someone made a change that broke your farm? Citrix now provides you with the tool to find which throat to choke!
- Non-Admin Client Install – You no longer need to be an administrator to install the ICA client. This one actually got a round of applause!
We concluded the session with a guest speaker, Dan Dillman from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He presented on his experiences with the Tech Preview and how he plans to take advantage of SpeedScreen Progressive Display and the Application Streaming features within his environment.
we were done we got great immediate feedback from the audience saying that the content was exactly what they were looking for. It felt great to see that we had delivered on high expectations and even better to see that Presentation Server was still top of mind for many attendees at Citrix annual user event.
By the way, the latest Tech Preview for Citrix Presentation Server is available right now. Customers who are current on Subscription Advantage can go to their mycitrix portal and download the media and licenses today. Let me know what you thought about the news around Presentation Server and when you run the Tech Preview let us all know what you liked and what you didn like.