Technology Positioning Statement Report

3.1.4 Remote Access Client/Server Utilities

Description: Client/server communication technologies providing secure access to SC network and information services from remote sites such as home, hotels, etc.

Category: 3 - Communication Technologies   Subcategory: 1 - General Purpose Communication Technologies
Old Category: none


  Citrix MetaFrame
Windows 2000 Server


Industry UsageSC Usage

Performance Metrics

Security; multiple client platform interoperability; speed; ease of use; ease of deployment.

Usage and Dependencies

Industry Usage: Disconnected use continues to be popular among power users and executives — managers, IT architects, CIOs and CEOs continue to rely on this mode of computing.

The Citrix ICA client/MetaFrame server cannot fulfill this need; thus, its opportunities are not absolutely limitless. Although Citrix has added Unix flavors of MetaFrame to its portfolio this year, it continues to be very Microsoft-centric. Citrix has never escaped the scrutiny of investors and skeptics who question how long Microsoft will leave the lion's share of a growing market alone. Every MetaFrame license sold on a Windows server also means a sale for Microsoft, but it has historically added functionality to its operating system over time that displaces third-party tools vendors. Citrix is constantly working to stay two steps ahead of the features in Terminal Services, potentially at the expense of other initiatives, such as MetaFrame for Unix or Project Vertigo. For example, it released new features for its MetaFrame 1.8 for Windows server platforms, but it has not yet released those same features to its MetaFrame for Unix products. Microsoft's recent agreement with Citrix competitor Tarantella suggests that Redmond sees opportunities for the Terminal Services platform beyond what Citrix can offer.

Additionally, Citrix faces competition from the "Webification" of applications. This trend has the potential to make MetaFrame obsolete over a period of years, and MetaFrame accounts for close to 75 percent of Citrix's sales. There has been a tremendous focus recently on "Webifying" the back-end systems for a variety of enterprise applications, including customer relationship management (CRM) software, supply-chain management and financial software.

SC Usage: SC now provides direct access to Microsoft Exchange e-mail and associated facilities (contact list, personal calendar, etc.) through the SC-server-based BlackBerry System from Research In Motion. Web-based remote access to e-mail is also available to SC users through the MS Exchange service Outlook Web Access (OWA). SC Terminal Servers will continue to be upgraded to offer SC applications for use via the Web.

In the current production environment, there are four Terminal Servers. Two are Windows NT 4, Terminal Server Edition, with the Citrix 1.8 application (SC-TS1, SCNTS2T). Two are Windows 2000, Terminal Services option installed (SCTS2, SCTS3). SC-TS1 is end-user (main) terminal server for remote access. SCNTS2T is a “test” server, also housing administrative functions for the Support Center (when changes are scheduled for SC-TS1, they are tested against this server first in the production environment, to assure and qualify that changes will be made correctly, so as not to interrupt the functions of the end-user TS). SCTS2 is for Flexiplace TS – locked down (even to Administrators). SCTS3 is for Support Center Terminal Server – exclusive use by Production Operations, Helpdesk and Desk Side Support (also a testing ground for the Flexiplace terminal server).

The Citrix servers use the Citrix client (ICA protocol). The Win2000 servers take advantage of RDP client (which can also be used on the Citrix servers, but functionality is lost). Since Citrix is “high maintenance” (it is also very costly and support for this product costs even more) and requires the ICA client, we are moving away from this platform. Windows 2000 Terminal Server has proven to be an improved platform for remote access, and much of the functionality gained from Citrix running on WinNT has been rolled into the Windows 2000 version of Terminal Services. Any Terminal Servers in the future will be recommended as Windows 2000 without the Citrix OS. Our only issue is that Microsoft does not have a “class” or training course specifically designed for Terminal Services, and we wish they did.

SC Application Impacts: The Flexiplace and SCIP projects, which require remote access to general functions such as e-mail and most IMSC applications will be impacted. There may need to be a tradeoff between remote client functionality and security requirements.

Flexiplace is anticipated to grow to 15% of the total staff within 3 years. Currently, work at home has been supported by allowing staff to utilize Government provided equipment. The equipment has routinely been allocated from a “pool” of laptops, which support meetings and travel, and the relocation of individual workstations. Property management and support has been an ongoing challenge for both the IM staff and the customer (e.g., the customer must bring the non-functioning system to DOE, the support staff can not duplicate the “home” environment at the office, property sometimes is lost or stolen, etc.). An additional challenge is associated with supporting the personal “home” systems (e.g., remote access, software conversions, non-standard hardware and modems, etc.).

For all of these reasons, and more, there needs to be an improved Flexiplace solution. Once the requirements for this project have been finalized and approved, Systems Engineering will acquire, configure and test a Compaq IPaq unit and a Netier unit. Planet will provide a Compaq IPaq demo unit to begin initial configuration and testing. The Netier unit will need an initial setup (image) burned in by Netier. This process will take 10 business days after payment is made to Netier. Upon completion of these tests, results and recommendation will be submitted. It is recommended to procure a new Terminal Server to exclusively support the Flexiplace users.

Last Update: Valid Until:


Previous TPS Report
Web-enabled Thin-Client Apps
Market Leader Citrix Faces Challenges, D. Friedlander, Giga, 11/22/00.

List all Categories

Administer the Database