Citrix Updates Presentation Server, Kills Access Suite

Citrix Presentation Server 4.5, for delivery of virtualized applications, is slated to ship March 1. The update introduces a batch of new features built internally and acquired through acquisitions, including new application monitoring, streaming, provisioning and single sign-on features. Combined with significant speed enhancements, the new version will be an attractive upgrade, according to Citrix reseller TheAdmins in Madison, N.J.

"It's got a lot of neat features that clients have been asking for," said James Candelaria, TheAdmins' vice president of engineering.

SpeedScreen Progressive Display for faster graphics performance will be a hit with customers frustrated by the choppy performance of applications like Visio, according to Candelaria. For partners, new streaming technology will allow the delivery of resource-intensive applications like CAD.

"The speed enhancements are pretty significant," Candelaria said.

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With the new release, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix is tweaking its pricing and packaging. The company currently offers three versions of Citrix Presentation Server -- standard, advanced and enterprise -- and separately sells its Access Suite, offering an SSL VPN and single sign-on password management.

Also with the rollout of Presentation Server 4.5, Citrix will discontinue the Access Suite and fold its functionality into a new Platinum Edition. The Standard Edition will be discontinued, and current Standard Edition customers with maintenance subscriptions will be upgraded free to the Advanced Edition. Access Suite customers will be mapped to the Platinum Edition.

The decision to eliminate Access Suite was driven by partner feedback, according to Citrix Vice President of Product Marketing David Roussain.

"With all the capabilities in the suite, [our channel partners] wanted that product to be part of the lineup," Roussain said.

The new Platinum Edition will carry the same price that Access Suite did: $600 per concurrent user. The lower-end products are fielding price increases. Standard, priced at $290 per concurrent user, is being eliminated, while the cost of the Advanced Edition rises $5 to $350 per concurrent user. Enterprise Edition will rise from $400 to $450 per concurrent user. Though the new version ships March 1, the price increases won't take effect until May 15, giving customers a window of opportunity to upgrade at the current rates.

"Resellers are enthusiastic," Roussain said. "There's more margin in it for them."

TheAdmins' Candelaria said that almost all of his company's customers are on Citrix's most robust edition and won't be affected by the price hikes. Still, he's a bit miffed over losing Access Suite, which TheAdmins' sold heavily. "Citrix has a tendency to change names, and I was not ready to see another name change," he said.

But with all of Access Suite's functionality surviving, the change won't have any real impact on TheAdmins' clients, and the extra functionality being packed into the update will be a boon for some of them, he added. The new Platinum Edition will incorporate the EdgeSight monitoring technology that Citrix picked up in last year's acquisition of Reflectent Software, which was previously sold as a separate product.

"We have a few significantly large deployments of EdgeSight in pilot," Candelaria said. "Anytime you can get functionality without having to go back for additional funding, that's good. This is going to make some clients very happy."