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Most technology companies in trouble don’t have near-death experiences. They just die. Tarantella Inc., however, appears to be the exception that proves the rule.

Since being spun off from the merger that produced The SCO Group Inc., Tarantella has been devoted to remote-access thin-client software, the Secure Global Desktop family. Citrix Systems Inc., with its MetaFrame line, has long been Tarantella’s chief competitor.

Indeed, until recently, it appeared that Citrix was going to bury Tarantella. Then, Tarantella began to turn around as the result of picking up a new management team and building a strong partnership with IBM and two of IBM’s partners, Mainline Information Systems and the U.K.-based Morse Plc.

What Tarantella is providing for these partners, according to Frank Wilde, CEO and president, is the “premier thin-client solution for the heterogeneous environment.” With the Tarantella line, customers can run applications from multiple platforms—such as Windows Terminal Services, Linux, AS/400 and mainframe systems—on almost any system that can run a Web browser.

Indeed, unlike Citrix, which requires both a client and a server component, Tarantella’s Secure Global Desktop runs only on the server. It is a true remote desktop application that businesses interested in centralized desktop control will find very interesting.

On the server side, Secure Global Desktop requires Red Hat or SuSE Linux or Solaris. In its IBM partnership, Wilde is encouraging IBM partners to sell it in conjunction with IBM’s xSeries and BladeServers.

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Tarantella itself, according to Wilde, is not looking for more partners at this time. In the meantime, though, IBM partners can sell Tarantella bundles. When the company does start to expand its partner base, Wilde said, “We want to be focused on partners that have selling and technology expertise.”

Michael Dortch, principal business analyst for the Robert Frances Group, said he likes what he sees of Tarantella’s reorganization and plans. It’s a “new, seasoned management team ready and willing to reinvigorate what was a moribund company with nonetheless compelling technologies.”

In particular, he said he thinks there’s still room for another thin-client company. “Enterprises still need innovative solutions that enable economical, elastic and secure access to IT resources from a variety of clients, beyond those offered by Citrix, Microsoft and others.

If current management can surround itself with focused, enthusiastic teammates and field forces, Tarantella might yet live up to its original, considerable promise, at a time when the need is once again perceived as significant by many IT executives and enterprises.

Looking ahead, “It will also be interesting to see how the IBM relationship plays out, since IBM seemed lukewarm about recommending Tarantella in the past,” Dortch said. “If both companies benefit, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to speculate about IBM acquiring Tarantella down the road, a move that would very likely give both Citrix and Microsoft some pause.”

For now, although revenues grew 24 percent from the third fiscal quarter, the company still reported a net loss of $5.5 million, or a loss of 20 cents per share. With this IBM partnership, though, Wilde said he’s sure that Tarantella can once again become competitive in the thin-client software business.

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