olmWith everyone roaring onto the Internet lately, there’s increasing pressure on corporate network administrators to bring their companies’ services on-line as well.

Now there’s help for managers facing those demands but who are unfamiliar with the Internet: Citrix Systems Inc.’s newly released TCP/IP for WinView, an option for use with the firm’s WinView for Networks 2.3 applications server software.

The TCP/IP for WinView option enables administrators to provide customized Internet applications or services directly, instead of relying on traditional technologies such as World-Wide Web, WAIS, or Gopher servers.

Because the TCP/IP for WinView option works with current Windows applications, administrators do not need a strong understanding of the Internet or of various Internet browsing tools to get their companies’ services on-line.

In addition, TCP/IP for WinView lets network administrators provide Internet connectivity to users who lack TCP/IP services on their workstations.

With TCP/IP for WinView, network users can implement such popular tools as Mosaic, Fetch, or newsgroup readers without having an IP address of their own.

TCP/IP for WinView runs on Citrix’s WinView 2.3 applications server, a hybrid OS/2 server platform that manages multiple, concurrent Windows sessions so that multiple users can run Windows or DOS applications remotely over IPX/SPX, NetBIOS, or TCP/IP protocols, or over modem dial-up connections.

WinView Version 2.3 is primarily a maintenance release, containing various usability, security, hardware compatibility, and connectivity enhancements over Version 2.2. (For a complete review of WinView 2.2, see PC Week Netweek, Nov. 29, 1993, Page N/1.)

The WinView server supports multiport serial cards. A single WinView server can accommodate the needs of multiple dial-up users, while other local users concurrently run server-based applications over the network.

Because applications run on the WinView server, only screen updates are transmitted across the network or telephone lines, slashing the amount of traffic across the corporate WAN.

What’s more, because WinView clients are not really executing Windows locally, 286-based PCs with 1M byte of RAM can “run” Windows and Windows applications, with the feel of 386 performance.

Citrix’s WinView 2.3 applications server software costs $2,995 for a 10-user version; additional five-user packages cost $695. The TCP/IP for WinView option is $495. All Citrix client software can be downloaded for free from the Citrix forum on CompuServe (go CITRIX).

To examine the product, PC Week Labs used a 66MHz 486-based Vectra from Hewlett-Packard Co., equipped with 16M bytes of RAM, to run WinView 2.3 with the TCP/IP for WinView option. Our client workstations were 33MHz 486-based Vectras with 4M bytes of RAM, running DOS and linked to a Novell Inc. NetWare 3.12-based LAN.

Testing setup

Our client PCs used Citrix’s IP Link software to communicate with the WinView server across a TCP/IP network. IP Link supports a variety of TCP/IP software packages; we used FTP Software Inc.’s PC/TCP 3.0.

Whether communicating across your company’s TCP/IP network or across the Internet, IP Link software usage is identical.

We first looked at setting up our own custom applications server for the Internet. While the current trend is to set up Web servers for users running Mosaic or other Web-browsing tools, this solution does have limitations.

First, the information must be presentable in a hypertext-based orientation. Second, learning to use the tools necessary for creating your own Web server can be a difficult task for those who aren’t Internet-savvy — the popular tools for creating Web servers, such as BB Edit and Simple HTML Editor, are in the public domain, which means that locating these tools (not to mention finding technical support for them) is not a trivial activity for Internet novices.

Writing custom Internet applications

We took the comparatively easy route, writing a custom application in Microsoft Corp.’s Visual Basic. First, we configured our WinView 2.3 server to run this application whenever users who belonged to a particular group logged on to our server — the WinView server permits establishing multiple user and group configurations and security options.

Then, regardless of whether a user of that group ran IP Link across the LAN or across the Internet, all that user needed to do to get connected to our server was to enter the IP address of the server or select our server from an updatable server list.

After the server validated the log-in, the remote Windows session brought the user directly into our custom application. Although it was visually obvious that we were running a Windows application, the WinView server’s advanced security features allowed us to configure the Windows session so that users could not access the Program Manager or other Windows features. When users exited from the custom application, they were automatically logged off the WinView server.

There are a variety of uses for a WinView server on the Internet: With TCP/IP for WinView, companies could provide custom multimedia information systems via the Internet (imagine creating your own version of America Online or CompuServe); sales organizations could allow their customers to place electronic orders for products via a standard database application; and computer companies could provide really hip interactive technical support.

Many Internet users one IP address

If your users do not need their own IP addresses — consider how many people on your network run TCP/IP strictly to access such Internet resources as newsgroups, Web servers, and file transfer protocol sites — TCP/IP for WinView may ease the burden of configuring multiple network protocol stacks on your client PCs.

By attaching their WinView applications server to the Internet, network users can use Citrix’s LANLink software (which runs over IPX/SPX or NetBIOS) to access the WinView server and run Internet software directly without loading a TCP/IP protocol stack on their system.

In order to test this feature, we logged some of our networked users in to the WinView server, where a single copy of NCSA Mosaic 2.0a2 was installed in a shared directory.

Multiple users were able to run Mosaic concurrently, each accessing independent Web servers at the same time.

None of our users had an IP address of their own, and none of them had TCP/IP software installed on their PCs.

WinView is also a dial-up applications server, which means that remote users can dial in to the network via Citrix’s Remote Link software and connect to the Internet.

Because only screen-redraw information is transmitted across the phone line, remote control of an applications server should provide users with better observable performance than if they used a remote IP solution, such as PPP or SLIP. We did not test this scenario to determine if this theory was correct.

A fine solution for some

If you have been considering adding a WinView application server to your network, or you already have one, TCP/IP for WinView is an option you won’t want to be without.

For companies that want to provide services via the Internet, WinView allows the development of customized Windows application-based solutions that look and behave noticeably different from those on typical Web servers. The fact that these services can be accessed by PCs with slow CPUs and limited memory is a terrific bonus.

Although most network administrators would still prefer users to have individual IP addresses to make complete use of Internet-or TCP/IP-based tools, Citrix’s solution may suffice in many instances.

For example, the TCP/IP for WinView offering is a solid choice for those who don’t want to deal with the hassles of configuring multiple network protocol stacks on client PCs, those who want to provide remote users with Internet connectivity, or those who can’t afford to buy TCP/IP software for everyone on the network.