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More, better, faster. Like clockwork, such claims accompany new technology advances. It’s rare, however, when they turn out to be completely valid—and lower in cost at that.

But that is exactly the situation with Presentation Server 4.0 for Microsoft Windows® Server 2003 x64 Edition, introduced in October 2005 by Citrix Systems, Fort Lauderdale, FL, a leader in access infrastructure solutions. In conjunction with servers powered by 64-bit, x86 processors such as the AMD Opteron” processor family, the new 64-bit software serves client-server applications to three times more users per server than 32-bit computing.

“Presentation Server is the industry standard to virtualize client-server applications through a secure, centralized architecture,” says Scott Herren, group vice president and general manager, Access Management Group, Citrix Systems. “Citrix’s new 64-bit version of Presentation Server raises the bar by maximizing server performance and scalability, in turn driving down costs associated with application deployment and management to an absolute minimum.”

Factor in the higher computational density of servers powered by dual-core processors, and the value proposition gets even better. “We are excited about the improved scalability and performance benefits that Dual-Core AMD Opteron processor-based systems promise to offer our customers,” says David Jones, senior vice president of corporate development at Citrix.

Virtualization the Citrix Way

Application virtualization provided by Citrix Presentation Server allows client-server applications to be processed on servers in the data center, using the ICA protocol to serve logical, or virtualized, representations of the application to local, remote or mobile users on any device across any network. Because only a representation of the user interface is sent to clients, and not actual data, security is tight. Low bandwidth requirements provide a responsive user experience. Efficient processing is designed to keep server costs down, while centralized management can reduce IT operating costs.

Companies are working to lower costs at every level of the organization, including ensuring that their IT investments “provide real, measurable, short-term value,” says Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of system software research at International Data Corp., Framingham, MA. “Organizations have often responded to these trends by harnessing together many industry-standard systems to support applications that were hosted in midrange and mainframe systems in the hope of reducing their hardware acquisition costs. These organizations are also consolidating workloads and data in hope of reducing operational and administrative costs. Software, such as Citrix Presentation Server for 64-bit systems, can help organizations address these trends.”

Consolidating Servers

Consolidating workloads and data to reduce costs, or server consolidation, is a key trend across organizations of all sizes. The advantages of scaling up with larger, more powerful servers revolve around the lower cost associated with managing fewer servers:

  • Fewer administrators are needed to maintain physical servers;
  • Reduced overhead results from fewer hot fixes and service packs;
  • A smaller footprint in the data center leads to lower power and space consumption;

  • Lower software costs accrue from reduced server-based licensing costs; and
  • Infrastructure costs are lower because fewer servers are needed.
  • In a 32-bit operating environment, however, limitations in the virtual memory address space severely limit user scalability, and hence server consolidation. With the introduction of 64-bit x86 processors and 64-bit server operating software, memory addressability is vastly increased—from 4GB of virtual memory in 32-bit systems to 16TB. Based on this memory increase, Presentation Server is expected to reach new scalability plateaus unbounded by architectural limitations—and a compelling reduction in total cost of operation through server consolidation.

    The Bottom Line

    How dramatic is the difference? The 32-bit version of Presentation Server 4.0 delivered 25 percent more users per server than previous versions, according to Citrix’s Herren, but the 64-bit version on a 64-bit platform can support up to three times as many users per server.

    “Pre-64-bit, a single server could support 50 to 70 clients,” Herren says. “When you upgrade the platform and Presentation Server to 64 bits, you get up to three times the user density-if you had 50 users per server before, you now can have 150. That’s a quantum leap in the economics behind application virtualization.” For new customers, the deployment of Presentation Server 4.0 will be cost-effective because fewer servers are required.

    The addition of dual-core servers such as those powered by Dual-Core AMD Opteron processors only adds to the consolidation benefits. “Citrix has customers today running 32-bit server farms of 600 servers,” says Herren. “Due to their higher computational density, dual-core servers will continue improving our value proposition of fewer servers, lower operating costs and easier management, all leading to lower ownership costs.”

    Punctuating these projections is a performance benchmark and user density study performed by Citrix, aimed at showing cost and ROI figures for a typical 500-server deployment. The study estimated costs for servers, software, data center operations and maintenance costs in different scenarios, concluding that the break-even ROI for upgrading from 32-bit to 64-bit platforms and Presentation Server 4.0 ranged from less than one year to just over two years. Cash savings ranged from $40,200 to $178,000 over a three-year period.

    Migration Made Easy

    The software migration story for 64-bit Presentation Server x64 is equally compelling. Due to the backward compatibility of the software, organizations can run 32-bit applications today on 64-bit systems and transition to 64-bit applications as they become available. And the 64-bit version of Presentation Server can be deployed and managed together with the 32-bit version in a single server farm.

    “It’s impractical for customers with large server farms to shut them down and bring them back up when upgrading,” Herren says. “The compatibility we’ve built into the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Presentation Server enables our customers to upgrade to 64-bit computing more easily.”

    More, better, faster—and easy migration. That’s the value proposition of Presentation Server 4 .0 for Microsoft Windows® Server 2003 x64 Edition, running on 64-bit servers powered by processors such as Dual Core AMD Opteron processors. Data center managers looking for a cost-effective, secure and user-friendly way to provide application access would be wise to check it out.