Microsoft/Citrix Deal Sets Up Cisco Showdown

By Paula Musich Print this article Print

News Analysis: The two companies' partnership to offer a branch office box appliance shows that Microsoft is getting ready to challenge Cisco, Gartner says.

Microsoft's expanded partnership with Citrix Systems to deliver a joint branch office box appliance, announced on Aug. 23, signals a brewing battle with longtime partner Cisco Systems.

The Citrix partnership, announced at the same time that Microsoft and new IP telephony partner Nortel Networks outlined more details in their alliance to deliver VOIP (voice-over-IP) software functions, pits Microsoft against Cisco in the branch office market, according to Joe Skorupa, research vice president at Gartner, in Fremont, Calif.

"The real subtext of this is that this is the beginning of Microsoft and Cisco walking out to the street for a real street fight. Microsoft is assembling a partnership portfolio of networking companies to help them go do battle with Cisco," Skorupa said, referring to the partnership between Microsoft and Nortel.

"This is about who controls the branch environment, and the stakes are big. It is the real strategic battleground at this point," he said.

Citrix claims, based on its own research, that some 55 percent of enterprise employees access applications from a remote office. And a third of total IT spending in large enterprises is in branch office infrastructure and the WANs linking those branch offices, according to Wes Wasson, vice president of application networking at Citrix, in San Jose, Calif.

A growing number of BOB (branch office box) appliances from a variety of vendors are allowing large enterprises to consolidate file and print servers, messaging servers, and other IT equipment from the branch into a central location, while still providing the performance required by remote users.

"The core issue at the branch is the lack of IT support," Wasson said. "You can't have something that cobbles five different pieces together. There is work going on to make it easy to manage [branch office IT resources] remotely," he added.

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This article was originally published on 2006-08-24
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