Thin Is In
Last year I wrote a somewhat humoristic post about the importance of defaults and not asking end-users for information they are not equipped to provide. As an example of this I described the PowerTerm WebConnect client download and installation mechanism and explained that, unlike other client installers, it does not require end-users to provide any configuration settings such as the server address. The PowerTerm WebConnect client download mechanism has several additional features and capabilities one of which is that it only downloads those components that are actually required by the specific end-point device. Moreover, it downloads these components on-demand, if and when they are needed. This results in the smallest possible download size – my laptop is (still), running Windows XP SP2 and the total size of the PowerTerm WebConnect client downloaded to it is 1.8MB.
I’m describing this mechanism because I just read that the size of the latest version of the Citrix ICA Client (v10.2), is a whopping 14.9MB. This means that it’s 828% the size of the PowerTerm WebConnect client downloaded to my computer! (Apparently it’s also substantially larger than previous Citrix versions.), But is this huge difference in the download size still important in this day and age of broadband and fast corporate networks? In my opinion the answer is a definite yes, it is very important. One reason that it is important is that not every remote or roaming user will be connected via a fast network connection. I’ve encountered a number of situations where such a large client would mean an unacceptably lengthy client download period.
Potentially more significant is the communication overhead involved in provisioning the client to every end-point in the corporate network. For example, if there are 5,000 end-point devices then at least 72.8GB need to travel through the network every time the Citrix is updated! The PowerTerm WebConnect downloader, on the other hand, will only update the components that have actually changed, so the network overhead may be as low as 4GB in the same scenario.
It is worth mentioning that the PowerTerm WebConnect client can also be installed as a standard MSI. The size of this MSI is 3.3MB – still significantly smaller than the Citrix client.