Through his lens, less is more
- By Patricia Daukantas
- Oct 21, 2003
Mark Goldman, Citrix shutterbug
Henrik G. de Gyor
As area vice president of government systems, Mark S. Goldman manages federal, state, local and educational business for Citrix Systems Inc. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., vendor sells remote-access and infrastructure management products.
Before joining Citrix, Goldman held several executive positions. He was vice president of strategic operations for Alcatel USA Inc. of Plano, Texas, where he headed the company's strategic business unit. He also was government operations director for SGI.
Goldman has a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in public administration from the American University. In 1998 he received the SGI Spirit Leader Award, and in 2001 he was named Citrix MVP and became a member of the Citrix President's Club.
A longtime camera enthusiast, Goldman free-lances as a sports photographer.
GCN associate editor Patricia Daukantas interviewed Goldman at GCN's Washington office. GCN: Who uses Citrix in the government?
GOLDMAN: When I started with Citrix, some people thought we were 'Citrus Systems,' which was actually the original name.
A number of customers said they had heard of Citrix or knew someone using Citrix, typically for legacy applications. Virtually every agency was using Citrix in some way, shape or form. An agency might have 6,000 seats installed, but bought from 138 different vendors, which made it difficult to administer. And that's sort of endemic to the channel sales strategy.
This is not to suggest that our solution works in every single instance. GCN: How does MetaFrame work?
GOLDMAN: It delivers a graphical representation of an application to any desktop system, wired or wireless. It can be a PC, a Unix machine, a personal digital assistant or a cell phone.
I could run SAP on a Citrix-enabled cell phone. It would be much more efficient than you think because no data goes across the wire. As opposed to the older paradigm of client-server computing or terminal emulation, the application resides on the server.
The client device uses standards-based authentication. We validate that it's a Citrix user on that Citrix-enabled machine. If you are going through an airport, you can log in at any terminal and bring your own desktop up on whatever you're operating. The look and feel is identical.
A broadcast TV screen gets refreshed about 15 times a second. We do exactly the same thing with data. We're refreshing the screen on your side.
We don't refresh the entire screen. If there are no changes being made, no mouse clicks or keystrokes, nothing goes across the wire. Then if you push the number 2 on your keyboard, a graphical representation of the 2 would go across and be interpreted at the server level as a 2, and just that portion of the screen would be repainted, which makes it bandwidth-efficient. It's not moving the entire application across the wire.
From a security standpoint, it's a really nice solution for the intelligence and homeland security community.
We enable it with a small bit of code that sits on the device. Some people don't necessarily want to have that little bit of code on their device, so we can also display with a Java applet. There's absolutely no data residing at all on the display device.
The Defense Department's intelligence community has what analysts refer to as the three-headed monster, depending on which network they're accessing: the Secret IP Router Network, Non-Classified IP Router Network or the open network. The way connections are made now, you need physically separate machines on your desk and separate authentications.
With Citrix, you can have one system on your desk and, depending on your authentication procedures, you just go into whatever network you need. There's no data residing on the machine and going across the wire. When you're done, you log out of the application and there's no data left on the machine.GCN: Do you make any use of biometrics?
GOLDMAN: It's still very early in development. There's clearly going to be a place for biometrics in the future, and we're following along and making sure that we adhere to whatever standards there are.GCN: Can MetaFrame be used for software upgrades and patch management?
GOLDMAN: We all suffered from the Blaster worm, and now there are variants of Blaster. In a typical enterprise, everybody is going to the Microsoft Corp. Web site and trying to download the patch. Well, not everybody's a technical user. So for a lot of people, that means calling the help desk to come fix the machine.
In a Citrix environment, the patch is downloaded at the server level. You log out and log back in. The patch is there. Also, if there's a new version of your antivirus product, you log out and back in, and the new version is running virtually on your machine.
We make sure the data gets from the server, where it runs originally, to the end user. We make a representation of that data so that it's clear and easily seen by the user.GCN: Do your products replace thin-client machines?
GOLDMAN: Some substantial hardware vendors are still manufacturing those devices. But when you say, 'Not everybody needs a 2-GHz machine,' well, that's not quite true. Microsoft really dictates what you need. It specifies minimal requirements for running an operating system, and if you don't have the memory, disk size or processor speed, you're not going to run that OS.
In a Citrix environment, you can preserve capital expenditures. If you had 386s or even 286s, you could run Microsoft Windows 2000 or Office 2003. The application is not running on the device sitting in front of you. We don't use the processor, drive or memory. All we're using is the display aspect.
We've had the Army saying they don't need $3,000-per-month T1 lines anymore because they're running Citrix. They can put that money to some other use.GCN: What was the company's role in the Army's Wholesale Logistics Management Program?
GOLDMAN: Computer Sciences Corp. is the prime contractor on that $680 million contract, and we're a partner.
CSC just finished Phase 1. We're able to display and deliver the applications worldwide, and we're heading right now into Phase 2, which is an expansion of the applications available to desktop users.
We have an enterprise agreement with the Health and Human Services Department, and the National Institutes of Health is using Citrix in a number of ways. One is for clinical applications'sharing information among physicians or researchers who aren't in the same building at the same time.
Our technology allows for compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 because the data never resides on the user's machine. So if someone were to steal the machine, no patient records would be compromised.GCN: How about sharing really large files, such as medical images and scientific data sets?
GOLDMAN: That depends on the network infrastructure and the server capabilities. If you had a robust server on the back end where the images are stored, we would facilitate displaying that data. File size typically is not an issue for us.GCN: How about geographic information systems data?
GOLDMAN: We have worked pretty closely with ESRI of Redlands, Calif., running GIS on a server. They're using this combination at the state level for emergency responders and homeland security.
The ability to run GIS on a PDA or tablet PC is a liberating experience if you're used to running it on a big desktop machine.
Maine is concerned about oil pipelines coming in from Canada. They have places where they offload oil. The Maine environmental protection department is monitoring the spillage and amount of oil in the water with ESRI's ArcGIS software. They were one of the first to implement a Citrix MetaFrame solution with ESRI.
It saved them a tremendous amount of money and made the Maine Oil Spill Information System more efficient. Because they freed up the budget used to maintain legacy systems, they had additional money to monitor other pollution issues.