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With the availability of the business edition of Vista for customers who have volume licensing deals in place with Microsoft about a month away, a lot of attention is soon going to find its way towards Citrix as customers begin to think through their Vista roll out strategy for 2007.

Of course, the folks at Microsoft are predicting that there will be huge volumes of business Vista users in place, with 10 times as many seats in place at launch and overall deployment rates being twice as fast as any other release of Windows.

Now that may have more to do with that fact that more customers today are on subscription models than ever before and it’s been seven years since Microsoft has had a major operating system release.

But if you’re inclined to take a more skeptical approach to Vista, there are a lot of early signs that point to the fact that Citrix is going to be a crucial player when it comes to driving Vista adoption.

The first factor in that thinking is that most IT organizations will be running mixed Vista and Windows XP environments for a long time to come.

That means that rather than having IT people continue to visit desktops, it will be a lot easier to manage both environments from a Citrix server.

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The second factor pushing IT organizations will be the sheer weight of Vista and the Office applications running on top of them. Together, these products set a new standard in “bloatware” that is going to induce IT organization to minimize their impact on systems by running them centrally.

And finally, a third factor would simply be the overall move to centralized servers and thin clients that has taken IT by storm over the last two years.

Of course, running bloated applications across a network tends to affect performance but here again it appears that Citrix has thought through this issue by acquiring application acceleration products that significantly boost a network’s ability to prioritize types of traffic on the network.

And even further down the road, Citrix is already working on what it describes as application virtualization technology under which the Citrix presentation server eventually becomes the de facto user interface for any number of composite applications that access number of back-end data sources.

These composite applications are essentially the corporate versions of what are popularly known as “mashups” that will increasingly be standard fare as enterprise computing models continue to evolve to SOAs (service-oriented architectures).

There’s an old saying in hockey about the need to skate to where the puck is going to be versus where it is now. When it comes to opportunity for solution providers, it seems pretty clear that Citrix has given a lot of thought to where the puck is going to be in 2007.