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Issue of July 2002 
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Application Servers
Virtually Served

IDC forecasts that the worldwide application server software market will grow to US $11.3 billion by 2004. Michael McGrath, Regional Alliance Manager, Asia Pacific, Citrix Systems, discusses how application server-based computing is critical to an enterprise, and how the Indian application server software market is growing. by Minu Sirsalewala

What space does the application server hold in the server-based computing market? How critical is it to an enterprise?
Enterprises have hundreds of traditional applications that need to be managed and made accessible to a widely distributed user base. SBC (Server-based computing) provides the quickest means for these applications to be available without redeveloping them. Enterprises continue to deploy server-based computing. And they have recognized the value of SBC, which allows existing fat-client or client/server applications to be accessed from any location or device on the Internet.

Application servers occupy a huge space between database servers and the end user. They connect database information (usually coming from a database server) and the end-user or client program (often running in a Web browser).

With the growth in likes of ERP, CRM, and SAP applications, organizations need to centralize these complex applications on a central server or server farm, for publishing or distributing them to users wherever they are. Wireless being the trend, information and data needs to be made available from anywhere, anytime, on any device. By centralizing these applications organizations have been able to add value to the likes of CRM applications.

What are the features of an application server?
Characteristics of an application server are a three-tiered architecture with an application's development and deployment layer between the client and backend of legacy systems. It provides the developer a set of common tools and services that most applications need, allowing a new level of integration among components. An integrated development environment is present, which eliminates the need for multiple tools or code conversion.

Our models can also take advantage of reusable modular component models such as CORBA, COM/DCOM, IIOP, or EJB (Enterprise JavaBeans). Some features like load balancing and pooling can give you more control over how to run the applications. Application servers help to decrease the size and complexity of client programs, the need to cache and control the data flow for better performance, and a requirement to provide security for both data and user traffic.

How does the Citrix solution benefit the customer in the server-based computing space?
It is very difficult to highlight any one benefit. Organizations have so many different drivers from which they can adopt a Citrix solution to cater to their specific needs. First the speed, at which you can deploy these solutions, second is the ease with which you can integrate the remote offices. Organizations can take an application that is already in existence and include it into a new domain of the Web. Thus there is an immediate ROI by continuing to use what already many companies have developed as custom business applications or just applications that are not available in a Web form. Third is the capability of these solutions. Users can make use of the applications from anywhere, for instance I could be a sales executive out on sales and need to access some data and applications to execute a deal. With the help of a Citrix solution that enables me to access the data I can execute the deal without having to be physically present in the office.

The solution enables departments, workgroups, branch offices and small businesses to maximize application availability so users have access to the business-critical information they need anytime, from any device, over any connection-wired, wireless or Web.

The other benefit Citrix offers is that users can maintain total administrative control of applications by pushing Windows icons down to the desktop or to the Start menu. Consolidating print driver requirements into a single universal print driver can accommodate diverse printing environments, thus reducing printing bandwidth requirements. These solutions bring to life the concept of a universal Net seamless integration of LANs, WANs, the Internet and extranets into a unified computing infrastructure. It is possible to publish applications and content into any standard Web browser without rewriting a single line of application code. You can optimize network performance and security, with application filtering and caching, ticketing and SSL encryption. You can also simplify access, improve productivity and deliver true user mobility by giving users application access from any device that supports a standard Web browser. Additionally, you can support uniform application appearance and performance over any network connection Internet, LAN, WAN, dial-up and wireless.

With Citrix solutions you can easily, quickly and literally in a matter of hours publish your existing legacy application to client server applications onto the Web. This frees up the information for the employees and can be accessed anytime from anywhere. That is a compelling benefit to the company and that goes a long way in delivering the virtual workplace concept. Taking an example of an Indian organization, if they want to deploy any kind of CRM application it will take them at least six to eight months to roll out the module. Whereas, with Citrix solution the module can be rolled out in a month. Citrix with its solutions like MetaFrame and Nfuse delivers virtual access, thereby speeding and at the same time making the applications cost effective.

What is the size of the application server software market in India?
Right now, the application server market is on its way up due to the growing importance of the Web. Companies are using application servers to reach out to their internal employees or partners or even customers.

The Boston Consulting Group sees a $7 billion market opportunity in the application server space over the next couple of years.

Companies continue to look for ways to extend existing applications to new internal and external users. They need to grow beyond the traditional WAN boundaries to accommodate remote access by employees or by partners and customers. The companies should be able to deploy existing applications via a common Web browser interface to those new audiences. It gives the ability to extend the usefulness of existing applications at a lower cost.

Focusing on the Asia-Pacific region, there is tremendous opportunity. We at Citrix had 68 percent growth over last year and this year we are targeting 100 percent growth over last year. This gives a clear picture where the market is going. India is an important region in the Asia-Pac area and we see enormous growth prospects.

How long has Citrix been in India and who are your partners?
We have been in India for about two years now and have close to 500 customers across the country. We are also running a Citrix Business Alliance program in India where we are bringing technology companies together with Citrix. The alliance develops synergies between technologies and delivers value-based knowledge to expand business opportunities to the alliance partners. We have already established a strong alliance with 600 of the leading technology companies across the world.

What are your plans for India?
Our Portal initiative, which is already in its second stage, is something we are moving towards in India. In this we integrate Web and client server applications together. The next step in this initiative will be where you can not only incorporate applications but also content, information and services. Our initiative is to logically move to an access portal. In these challenging times organizations need to get a quick return on investment, which is also the Citrix approach.

We are bringing portals together with thin-client computing and are likely to begin converging with the broader enterprise portal and content management market during the coming months. We have outlined a strategy around delivering a "virtual workspace," a set of Web portal software products that would allow IT shops to provide users with access to relevant applications and content. The workspace concept incorporates the ability to access traditional client applications via MetaFrame, browser-based applications, Web content and enterprise portals.

Minu Sirsalewala can be reached at minus@networkmagazineindia.com

 
     
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