• United States

Citrix adds password management to MetaFrame

Sep 29, 20033 mins
Access ControlCitrix SystemsEnterprise Applications

* Citrix MetaFrame now includes password management

I’ve been known, on occasion, to berate and belittle companies that attempt to jump on the latest buzz-wagon to move boxes of product or billable hours of consultants. Frequently, the product or company in question hasn’t changed anything except their marketing brochure while trying to sell you on features that only vaguely fill the definition (loose as it is) for the buzz phrase – such as “Web services” or “identity management.” Rarely, and it’s so rare I think I could count all of the instances on my fingers and still be able to make rude gestures, a company will discover that with a tweak here and a prod there an old stand-by product or service could be adapted to a new niche. I think one of those discoveries just occurred.

Just about five years ago (see “The secret of Citrix’s success,” I called Citrix Systems a “one-trick company,” that is, a company with essentially one product that morphs into a whole suite of offerings but is, in reality, simply one very good idea. Very few one-trick companies last a long time as they either go under when bigger, more agile competitors discover the trick or they get acquired and are never heard from again. Citrix is a shining example that it doesn’t have to work that way.

Citrix last week announced the addition of a password management tool to its MetaFrame server. The server is still, today, doing the same remote-session hosting job that the company’s products have been doing since Windows 3.1 over a dozen years ago. Fast forward to 2003 and we see enterprises suddenly all clamoring for single sign-on (SSO) services. One of the big drawbacks to most bolt-on SSO solutions, though, is that it’s child’s play to go around them and access directly the myriad systems and apps they are supposedly front-ending. That’s not only not good security, but it actually reduces your security.

With MetaFrame, though, you can set it up as an analog of a firewall/router between clients and servers so that all client communication to and from the server has to pass through the MetaFrame installation. This is accomplished by requiring a Citrix client (or a Windows Terminal Server client) in order to gain access. If there’s only one way into a building, it’s easy to guard the entrance.

Citrix doesn’t hem and haw about the capabilities of the password management tool, either. Citrix boasts that “MetaFrame Password Manager provides secure, easy, instant single sign-on access from anywhere, at anytime, using any device, over any network connection, to Windows, Web, proprietary and host-based applications running in the MetaFrame Access Suite environment or on a variety of desktop clients.” It’s neat, it’s slick and it works. Right out of the box. If you’re a mostly Windows or Unix environment, you need to check this out.