What Is a Citrix Server?

by Stephen Byron Cooper

A server is a computer that holds resources and delivers them on request to other computers over a network. Any computer can be made into a server, though generally, a dedicated server tends to be a faster, specialized computer with a large amount of storage. This is because the usual use of a server is to deliver resources, including files, to a large number of clients. Citrix produces a brand of server software.


Citrix is a computer company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It focuses on "Thin Client" networks. The company was founded by Edward Iacobucci in 1989 and went public in 1995. The company's fortunes were closely tied to those of Microsoft and their products enabled computers using the windows operating system to be accessed remotely, if the accessing computers have a different operating system.

Server Functions

The application of Citrix server software enables remote access of a computer to a range of degrees. At one level, the system can be implemented as an application server. Several computers on a network access one of the computers, the server, to run a particular application, like, for example, Office software such as a word processor or a spreadsheet. The application is not resident on the computer at which the user is seated, but on a centralized server. The user views the application, and interacts with it, as though that application were running on the local computer. This process is called "virtualization," which means the user gets a view of what is happening on the remote computer. The remote computer does not actually display the application running on its own screen, but instead sends video instructions to a "virtual desktop"which is forwarded over the network to the client.

Virtual Desktop

Taking the application server concept one step further, the Citrix server offers the possibility of creating virtual desktops. This means that nothing seen on the local computer is actually happening on that computer, but is actually a virtual desktop generated by the remote computer and sent over the network. The user's actions, such as keyboard entry, and mouse operations are sent back to the remote server, which adjusts the view accordingly and sends it back to the local computer. This enables corporate users to access the same desktop from any computer on the network, and even, by remote login, from a home computer, or other location outside the office. Citrix server software is ideally suited to delivering Cloud computing, which is the provision of applications over the Internet.

Thin Client

The ultimate network configuration created by desktop virtualization is the Thin Client network. The server is the only computer on the network with any processing power. All other terminals are little more than a screen, a keyboard and a mouse, with only sufficient processing power to connect to the network.

About the Author

Stephen Byron Cooper began writing professionally in 2010. He holds a Bachelor of Science in computing from the University of Plymouth and a Master of Science in manufacturing systems from Kingston University. A career as a programmer gives him experience in technology. Cooper also has experience in hospitality management with knowledge in tourism.

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