As I mentioned in my previous post, Project Ohio (Tech Preview available on http://www.mycitrix.com), contains some of the constellation technologies. I will write a bit about the Constellation technologies in Project Ohio targeted to improve user experience. But, before I do, let me answer some simple questions that I have received from my customer interactions.

Why do you care about user experience?

Majority of you probably do not need to read my notes regarding why user experience matters. It has always mattered; however, it is extremely critical now with IT management and CIOs top priorities being to serve the business and deliver on business value of IT. So, rather than focusing on reduced costs and better manageability, IT teams are turning into delivering the best to business with measurable results.

What are the challenges with user experience?

For those of you who have been working with Citrix technologies for a long time, you probably understand that Citrix technologies (WinFrame/MetaFrame) have always been challenged with different types of networks for desktop and application delivery (modems, ISDN, Internet). Citrix, via ICA, has continued to address different types of challenges for emerging networks and applications via SpeedScreen technologies. Project Ohio is going to add more to SpeedScreen technology portfolio to address emerging network scenarios and applications.

Things that we started with for Project Ohio were – high latency network being caused by globalization (outsourcingmulti-sourcing/offshoring) and more graphics applications as integration of several items of applications start (example – maps, graphs, images). Both of these are use cases that we are seeing increasing with CPS and will possibly impact your deployments over time as well. However, the technologies covered here are not limited to those and we are seeing more responsive environment with better bandwidth utilization for all types of networks, apps and usage.
/>SpeedScreen Technologies in Ohio

Frame-based display

With CPS 4 and before, ICA protocol queues up display commands coming from the server and sends only the relevant ones to the client to reduce the traffic on the network. It is quite optimized to not send excessive traffic. In an ideal world, we would toss out all the packets that were redundant and would only send the packets that were necessary to provide the right display to users. The reason there is need to toss out packets is because the screen draws are coming in much faster than they can be delivered remotely to clients. The need is exacerbated with graphics intensive apps or higher latency networks.

With Project Ohio, we have added technology to optimize tossing the redundant packets for new types of applications being written or when apps are accessed over high latency networks. The tossing algorithm has been enhanced so that now we are looking for more graphics constructs. It now detects complete self contained This way the server can either toss the entire frame or send the entire frame to the client as a self-contained entity. This has the following benefits:

1. Less data on the wire due to improved tossing operation
2. Better responsiveness for end users because the entire frame gets updated at once rather than in parts.

Progressive Display

This is the most visible change for Ohio. When enabled, the first/initial display of any complex image is always displayed using the highest (the progressive) compression setting, to provide a fast initial response over a slow line. This initial/crude display is then sharpened up as background activity so long as the bitmap itself has not now been overwritten, and that no new drawing is happening. New drawing always takes precedence over sharpening.

This will improve the usability for any user working over a lower bandwidth connection. There are several common use cases that will benefit from this enhancement – such as scrolling through a document or graphs, images, etc. For example – we are noticing that healthcare PACS based applications (X-Ray, etc.) are going to perform in a manner where it is hard to tell that they are running remotely.

There are other ICA enhancements made to provide better responsiveness to end users. You will likely notice those with your graphics apps or high latency networks right away. If you have either one of those two, take a look at Ohio Tech Preview.