Citrix has announced Citrix Desktop Server 1.0, which it says gives IT managers the ability to deliver Windows desktops virtually from the data centre to workers as a secure, on-demand service.

Citrix Desktop Server will be important to IT managers who want to deliver an entire desktop in secure fashion to office workers who sometimes work from alternative locations, such as a home or a branch office, Citrix officials said. Since the server is located in the data centre, IT workers can provide additional CPU, memory or storage to virtual desktops as the needs change for the business or the end user.

"With the power of Desktop Server, IT can provide users with powerful, personalised desktops while protecting corporate assets and maximising the use of IT resources," said Mick Hollison, vice president and product line executive for Desktop Server at Citrix.

Desktop management costs in large businesses can reach $5,000 per user per year, and Citrix said it can cut that cost by 40 percent, according to a statement from Citrix.

A Citrix reseller, UtilIT in San Francisco, plans to market the new Desktop Server to companies with 10 to 500 workers after having installed it recently for its own workforce of 25 people, said Chris Boone, president and CEO of UtilIT.

Boone said his company has been using Citrix Presentation Server for three years with modifications that provided some of the same features in the new Desktop Server. "Desktop Server is a better product than Presentation Server since it is more user-friendly and has automated provisioning that allows a user to point and click to add a new profile," Boone said.

Virtualised desktops with the Presentation Server cut down total cost of ownership for two customers by 55 percent annually, Boone said. "It significantly reduces cost, increases reliability and security, and you can access it from anywhere through a Web-enabled device," he said.

Some customers are able to save on purchases of new PCs with the desktop virtualisation concept. One customer has been able to keep Windows 98 machines running an Intel 2 processor, he said. "They can turn that into a supercomputer," he said.

Boone also sells Sun’s Secure Global Desktop but said the Citrix Desktop Server "is better" and designed for an enterprise class user. Any PC or Mac, thin client or other Web browser can become a full-functioning machine with Citrix Desktop Server, he said. The user's device can keep files on its own hard drive, or the files can be kept in storage in the data centre, he explained.

In addition to Desktop Server, Citrix yesterday announced a new version of its application delivery software, Citrix NetScaler 8.0. The newest version integrates SSL VPN and a Web application firewall but also provides a new easy-to-use policy configuration interface and a means for monitoring an end user's experience in using an application.

The Citrix Desktop Server ships in the second quarter and starts at $75 per user. The NetScaler 8.0 is available now, starting at $17,500, according to a spokeswoman.

Citrix Desktop Server follows Citrix's success with its prior product, Citrix Presentation Server, which the company said has been used to deliver 10 million virtual desktops by its customers, Citrix said in a statement. The new Citrix Desktop Server is specifically designed for desktop delivery and includes DynamicDelivery technology that automatically selects the right type of virtual desktop on demand, depending on a user's needs, Citrix said. Also, a unified desktop management interface allows IT staff to manage all desktops in a common method, regardless of how they are installed.

Citrix also claimed that it has the industry's first comprehensive end-to-end application delivery infrastructure with its full line of five prior products and the new Desktop Server.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group in Boston, agreed: "Citrix has the broadest range of application delivery methods" from streaming data to server-based to desktop remote control. "Citrix delivers more applications to more devices in more ways" than competitors such as F5 Networks and Cisco Systems, he said.

The Citrix Desktop Server product will compete with many companies offering similar technology, such as Appstream and Softricity, which was acquired last year by Microsoft, Kerravala said.

Citrix said it expects its Desktop Server to be complementary to some leading desktop virtualisation products, including those from VMware.