Citrix walks the ASP walk
We actually get to see some practical ASP software
Citrix iForum Shortly after top man of Citrix Mark Templeton gave his keynote speech at the iForum in Orlando, fellow cuddly gnome David Weiss* (VP marketing) gave us a series of demos which made application service providing a tangible concept for the first time.
First up was a demo on how to put an app up on a portal (which can then be run online, server-side style). This is called 'webifying' it, and has added one word to our list of hated IT terms. Using the Citrix triumvirate of MetaFrame, Nfuse, Extranet, Dave and his tech boys shoved PowerPoint on a portal in about five minutes. Thoughtfully, they also dampened our suspicions and proved the whole thing was live. Eight steps.
More interestingly, an Excel spreadsheet was displayed in full on a Windows CE handheld, presumably using ASP technology. The spreadsheet was larger than the screen, but a nifty virtual window navigation box (top right) made it easier to move about. This probably isn't a new thing, but we hadn't seen it before and we liked it.
Next came admin tools. This was pretty impressive and had sys admin boys frothing at the mouth. At one point, when a click-click arrangement for copying drivers across servers was demonstrated, the room broke into spontaneous applause. Also included was some simple but fancy load balancing and a range of other stuff that BOFH would no doubt use to bring a company to its knees.
Then, Vertigo. This adds 'portal richness' which means quality of content, look-and-feel. This, claimed worldwide sales VP David Jones later, is precisely the sort of thing Microsoft is dreaming of with its .Net 'vision'. Basically it produces and places 'rich' applets on your browser that give you as near a desktop experience as possible. It's good, it's out to developers and it's called Vertigo.
MasterEye - currently in techy production - lets a number of people (the demo had four) work on a given document at the same time. We're sure business can find a use for it, but personally, this would drive us nuts.
And finally, a project with Erogo that is basically an ASP wizard. This looks very impressive, but then it's in development and so the purity of vision is still there. Basically, it's a ASP package maker. It uses a simple interface to add, remove, restrict, expand software packages and then tie it all together as an single purchase along with pricing, commission etc etc. When (if?) this comes out on the market, then we have a serious case for the whole ASP model.
And there you have it. Of course, Citrix had the time to fudge/perfect the demos, but we were left with the distinct feel that Citrix is one of these rare IT companies that prefers substance over style.
* Dave chose to run the demos in four parts - for the 'four pillars of Citrix's ASP strategy'. These were called Web, Scal, Use and Predict as a memory aide. Initials are W, S, U and P. Which, of course, comes out as “wassup?” as in “what’s up?”. Yeah, we know, we know. ®