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The ability to deliver usable applications to employees anywhere they happen to be will define the future of IT says Mark Templeton, chief executive officer of infrastructure software specialist Citrix.

Kicking off Citrix's annual iForum event in Edinburgh, Templeton warned IT departments that they had to meet the challenge posed by a combination of new-style applications and a new generation of computer users who had grown up in the age of MySpace and YouTube:

Organisations that do not wake up to this challenge risk falling behind in the technology race, and might also fail to attract the best staff because their IT systems are inflexible and obsolete, he added.

Templeton noted that Citrix had repositioned itself to become a strategic supplier at the architectural level - with growing influence in how organisations build and deliver applications. "The notion of building applications and deploying them is irrelevant now. We must think in terms of delivering applications to end users in much more flexible forms in many different ways."

Citrix has been on the acquisition trail for the last couple of years, buying in technology to flesh out its vision of a comprehensive 'application delivery infrastructure'. A far cry from its origins in the late 1980s as a provider of software to link desktop PCs to legacy mainframe applications, Citrix now offers a broad portfolio infrastructure technology and boasts 180,000 customers worldwide.

In 2004 it bought Net6, followed in 2005 by NetScaler and Teros. In 2006 it bought Reflectent and Orbital Data, followed earlier this year by Ardence. The result of this flurry of activity is that Citrix can supply software and appliances to cover the whole spectrum of what it calls the networked applications market - a market it estimates to be worth $4bn a year.

Citrix announced a couple of product upgrades at iForum including a revamped version of the Edgesight application monitoring technology it inherited from the Reflectent acquisition. Derek Slayton, director of product marketing in Citrix's management systems group says the new version is fully integrated with Citrix's flagship Presentation Server product and gives a full view of networked applications.

"Edgesight instruments complex processes like log in so that network administrators can identify exactly where traffic problems are and fix them. It enables our customers to get the same level of information on server processes as was available previously for desktop processes," he said.

Citrix also announced Edgesight for Load Testing, which can be used to generate traffic test scenarios for Citrix-based networks. "It aims to simplify regression testing by creating synthetic load simulations. We see it as an important tool to help improve service levels," says Slayton. ®

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