Is Citrix An Appropriate Solution?

Posted on 2005-05-10
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I'm not an IT professional, just the most computer-savvy user in my department.  

My group provides technical support (for lab chemistries and instruments) as well as sales support by phone.   Currently, they are networked on a traditional LAN with NT servers.  We have many legacy applications, including a sales database on an AS400 server.  This is due to be changed this year to an Oracle database on an NT server.

On a day to day basis, I typically have 22 windows open on my taskbar (sometimes more), several of those are different applications including Outlook, Excel, Word, Adobe Acrobat, several browser windows, about 5 esoteric or proprietary applications, and need the ability to browse through (or "explore" in MS parlance) several directories on 2 different share drives in order to locate and provide information to our clients quickly.  Our challenge on the phone is to be able to find our resources quickly enough to stay ahead of the customer while they're talking with us on the phone.  Often, we need to be able to fax, print, or email the clients the documents we're referencing.  There is a LOT of cut and pasting that is necessary in order to send smaller chunks of specific information from larger, scanned documents. We use Right Fax for our fax applications.

I've used Citrix in the past as a remote solution.  At that time, I also used it locally, but only as   The company wants our department to move to this as a local solution, presumably to smooth the way for the IT department.  None of our group ever works remotely.  We're in a call-center and must work from our particular location which is already wired for LAN, and already has desktop PC's.

Another part of our call center has several users already on Citrix.  They are getting the whole desktop from the server and just have the thin box at their physical location.   These users do not have to provide tech support, only sales and order-taking.  They are already having considerable problems with the few applications they do use.  

From a management standpoint, I understand why IT wants to move everybody to a thin client setup.  There's also the advantage of having automatic upgrades and better security in an environment that has intelligent users that are just not computer-savvy.  However, as a user, I'm concerned about performance.  We can't afford crashes, lock-ups, slow response, or printing problems.   We must be able to use multiple sessions of several programs.  

So, is Citrix an appropriate solution for our department?   What are some things I need to get from IT to decide?


Question by:jemwebb
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    I would say Citrix above MS terminal services but it really does depend on whether your IT department are going to be investing in enough kit to cope.
    We are currently running 550 concurrent connections on a Citrix Metaframe 3.0 "Farm" and on the whole this has improved our reliablity to the business and most department heads do agree that they have seen a great improvement in the up time of the systems.
    Our Buying department do a huge amount of cut and paste and before Citrix on TS their server was always having to be restarted the clear it down.
    If you have bespoke applications I would suggest getting your IT team to see if it will even run in a multiuser environment (MS terminal server) because if not you are onto a no hoper.
    With version 4.0 comming out this week you will get even better performance with more users per server etc.

    In short I would say speak to a Citrix Gold partner and arrange for a 90 eval at your site so you/ your IT department can see how the servers perform under load ie load all your apps on it and then publish a desktop with shortcuts to all the apps you need. If you need to browse around quickly I would NOT recomend published apps.

    Hope this helps feel free to ask any more questions you need

    LVL 4

    Expert Comment


    Depending on the design of the Citrix Server Farm that you IT design for you may never have issue.  Citirx can be designed with numerous levels of redundancy; and "power user" can be provided a large amount of system resources so that there is not a difference is perfomance or processing power.  

    Citrix did have a few issue with supporting legacy applications...but the later versions do an very good job of supporting them today.  Not sure it any of the above help...just my opinion

    LVL 16

    Accepted Solution

    A simple way of finding out wheter this is corect for your dept is to get the IT dept to set up a test citrix box before hand to check all legacy apps.

    This way you will be  able to see if they work correctly and iron out any issues before roll out.

    There is also the other issue of users. In my experience some users dont like using Citrix. If you work in an enviroment where the workers are told you will use Citirx then you have no problems. If you dont it can bring it own set of problems by itself.

    Again i suggest a single thin terminal and introduce your dept one by one to the test system you will have set up before.

    The above posts are all correct in the information they provide. The way the server farm is set up is paramount to reliabilty and speed of the network infrastructure.

    A good guide is about 25 to 30 users per top end spec server (2 .0 + dual processors, 4gig of ram)
    You will also need a fail over server on your farm for load balancig and fail over. Agian this all depends on the existing Citrix infrasturcture within the IT dept.

    In a perfect world where all your apps will not cause u any problems then this is the most cost effective route to take.

    Hope this helps
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    With version 4.0 up 50ish users can be supported and you can ring fence any apps that cause any issues by limitiing the resources they can use without resorting to appsense etc.

    When setting up the farm for real world it is recommened to have a seperate mangement server which can also double as the data collector.

    Most user complaints I have had with Citrix are purely to do with it being "new" and that if you deliver apps they have to connect to many sessions and if you deliver a desktop as you would be using roaming profiles you would tie the desktop down so as to make the profile as small as poss. IE our users get what they get anf the only thing they can change is their default printer also they cannot save to the desktop.

    But as I said before get in a gold partner to help with a proof of concept

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