Review: Citrix now secures remote access for the SMB

Its Access Essentials were developed specifically for the smaller companies that hadn't been able to afford the server setup.

Citrix Access Essentials
Citrix Systems
Price: $229 per seat

In the past, small businesses did not have many reasons to look at Citrix's offerings. The company's products were generally developed for large enterprises with many users, which effectively priced small businesses out of their market.

Knowing this, Citrix has released Access Essentials, developed specifically with small businesses in mind.

Like Citrix's large enterprise solutions, Access Essentials allows users to access internal network resources and work securely from anywhere. It also helps businesses save money by lowering the costs associated with workstations. Since the applications are running on the server, Access Essentials enables users to work with resource-intensive applications, which can be used even on the most basic of PCs. In addition, the security of the organization is likely to be improved; thinner client systems and basic PCs are likely to be easier to manage and maintain.

Access Essentials offers many of the attractive features of the Citrix Metaframe Presentation Server, without support for server clustering or load balancing. This is perfect for SMBs, which often have no need to run multi-server Citrix farms.

What Access Essentials does offer is easy setup and management, the ability to publish any Windows application or content for secure seamless remote use, and support for up to 75 users, all in a cost-effective package.

Our lab installation on a 2 GHz, 1 GB RAM Windows 2003 Server machine took about an hour, thanks to excellent wizards and the automated installation and configuration of IIS and Terminal Services. (As an added bonus, Citrix includes Terminal Server Client Access licenses in the base price.)

Publishing an application was simple through a very intuitive wizard, which prompts you to choose the type of applications you want to publish, the resolution at which you want to run them, and who is allowed access. Access Essentials enumerates the start menu, detecting many of the applications already installed on a system. Publishing an undetected application simply requires pointing to the executable.

Access Essentials performed flawlessly on Windows XP, Linux and MAC OS X machines on the local LAN, as well as remotely through a packet-filtering firewall. Remote applications loaded and ran quickly, just as they would if they were on your local machine--not inside a browser.

Access Essentials also has user access controls to granularly manage access to published applications. If you have employees who only need to use one or two applications, this can be easily accomplished with Access Essential's built-in application ACLs.

Citrix Access Essentials is a value-added package that would work well for any small business looking to give its employees remote productivity.

This product review originally appeared in the December 2005 issue of Information Security magazine.

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