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The company originally behind the Windows NT Terminal Server idea. They have created quite a few products for use in large enterprise environments, including their most famous one called Citrix Metaframe. What Metaframe allows you to do is to remotely log on to a Windows NT Server (or UNIX, but the innovation is not as grand as on UNIX) and start a remote session through a window with the Citrix ICA Client. It's a really great applicaiton for deploying huge amounts of Windows desktops immediately.

The application works like this: you have a window, and the server sends bitmap updates to that window, while you send mouse movements and mouse clicks back. Seeing your Windows desktop on your computer, without the aid of emulation products such as VMWare, is quite amazing. Products have come before it which accomplish this task, such as VNC (by AT&T research), and PCAnywhere, now by Symmantec. The problem with those is that it did not create an entirely other session on the Windows NT machine using Windows NT native services, but rather it just sent desktop screenshots to the respective client. This solution somewhat breaks the NT Workstation / Domain paradigm, however the results are fantastic. UNIX also has a MetaFrame, except that they have had X Windows remote sessions for a while. The Windows desktop based experience is greatly enhanced by this application. This is one of Windows' " Killer App"

Microsoft bought parts of the Citrix solution, did their own custom spin on it, and created Windows Terminal Server Edition of Windows NT4. It is now bundled with Windows 2000.

Citrix Metaframe is currently version XP (not to be confused with Windows XP), coming in three flavors: XPs (standard), XPa (advanced) and XPe (enterprise). Metaframe runs on Windows NT server 4.0 Terminal Server and all Windows 2000 family servers. New features are:

Advanced Load Management This feature adds the ability to balance the load between all Metaframe servers in a farm. When a user starts a session to log into a Metaframe desktop application the load management system will decide which server the user will be connected to. The decision is based on parameters like CPU utilization, RAM usage and others (they can be modified by an administrator).

Resource Manager Gives you great opportunities to control how the Metaframe servers perform. You can monitor real time parameters such as CPUdisk/RAM usage and more. You can create reports that prove the performance of the system (i.e. total uptime last month, how many users logged in between 8am and 11am, and stuff like that. Another nice feature of the Resource Manager is that you can analyze the system. Sometimes you need to find a bottleneck because of a badly behaving application you installed. Or you need to find out if your internet bandwidth is sufficient for the number of users that are using the server(s) and so on.

Network Manager Basically just a plug-in for enabling SNMP support so that a server can be monitored from another system by SNMP traps (from systems like HP Openview, IBM Tivoli Monitoring etc.)

Installation Manager Enables you to make installation packages of software for automatic distribution to all the Citrix Metaframe servers you have in a farm (a logical group of servers that share the same configuration database (IMA – Independent Management Architecture) that controls load balancing between the servers, what applications are installed, etc.). That way you can be certain that all servers have been equally configured, and you only have to do the job of installing a piece of software once.

Another feature worth mentioning is NFuse. NFuse is a piece of software from Citrix that enables you to have access to all applications you need from a web browser. How cool is that? You can actually log into a web portal, and find the icons to start applications that you would normally need to have installed on your local computer (i.e. Microsoft Office, a mail client, a CRM or accounting system… anything – no limits). So you can actually be sitting anywhere in the world, and all you need is a web browser and access to the internet, the rest is taken care of by the Metaframe technology (and NFuse). Thinking of spending a week more in Himalaya, but you can"t because your boss needs his numbers by Wednesday? Bring a laptop and a mobile and you have your office capabilities on the road with you. This was not a commercial - I just think it"s a neat thing :)

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