Novell snuggling up to Citrix for enterprise pitch?

Synergy at Thinergy

The late arrival of Novell as a sponsor for Citrix's first Thinergy thin client-server computing conference this week surely means that Eric Schmidt and his company are planning a rapprochement with the Florida company. Speaking to The Register last night Citrix chairman Ed Iacobucci claimed only a passing acquaintance with Schmidt, and denied all knowledge of what Novell was up to, but he conceded that working together could bring advantages for both companies. Although Citrix is generally perceived as being a Win32-NT company, Iacobucci and other company executives have repeatedly (and with increasing frequency) pointed out that Citrix isn't just about Win32. Citrix ICA (Independent Computing Architecture) is now being presented as an end-to-end architecture rather than just a thin client protocol that allows low-resource platforms to run Win32 applications remotely, while company president Mark Templeton (who we note is growing his hair in an attempt to deyuppify himself) has started referring to 'server-based computing' as an alternative to 'thin client-server computing.' Server-based computing is obviously about all kinds of different servers rather than just the one, and Novell could therefore be seen as something of a catch for Citrix. Nor indeed are all Citrix partners down-the-line NT operations; IBM marketing VP for the network computer division Dave McAughtry points out that "the thin client paradigm is extending to other platforms, including Java". He describes the area more as a spectrum, with Windows thin clients and network computers blurring into one another, and a whole range of different servers, not just NT, out there. Aside from helping offset whatever's left of Citrix's dependence on Microsoft, a Novell deal would be mutually beneficial in server ways. Citrix itself is running hard to diversify into other platforms (acquiring for example a Unix capability from Insignia earlier this year), and to move up the network food chain, talking increasingly of 'server farms' and manageability software (see separate story) as it does so. But as McAughtry points out the company is still going to face troubles in dealing with the higher echelons of enterprise networking. Partnership with Novell would therefore be helpful in beefing-up its capabilities and in getting it into this class of account. Novell on the other hand is poised to pitch a highly-specified set of enterprise networking systems centred around NetWare 5, and key sales points for this are the web, manageability, Novell Directory Services and digital personas (the ability to log on from any client, anywhere). All of these could fit very nicely with all of the technologies Citrix has and is working on. Synergy at Thinergy?

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