What is ICA Citrix?

ICA CitrixWhat is ICA Citrix? – It is crucial to understand Citrix products, components, network protocols, and architecture to make an informed decision. This article gives an insight into the pros and cons of one of its components, ICA Citrix.

An Overview of ICA Citrix – What is ICA Citrix?

ICA or Independent Computing Architecture is Citrix’s alternative to Microsoft RDP or Remote Desktop Protocol. This protocol is designed by Citrix to specifically deliver graphical-display data along with input commands of mouse and keyboard over the network. This proprietary protocol provides specifications for data being transferred between servers and clients while not being bound to any platform. It listens on TCP port 1494. You can also encapsulate it in CGP (Common Gateway Protocol) on TCP 2598.

Initially, WinFrame used this protocol to run Windows applications on suitable Windows servers, where client devices were able to access them easily. XenApp and Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop (formerly Citrix XenDesktop) are more recent products that use ICA Citrix. From XenDesktop 3.0, this protocol’s capabilities evolved into an HDX suite in 2009. Just like RDP, ICA is not bound to any platform, thereby allowing Citrix Receiver Client devices running on any platform such as Linux, Unix, Mac, iOS, or Android to remotely access server resources.

ICA CitrixLimitations with ICA Citrix

Network latency and performance are the two most important considerations while using ICA Citrix protocol. For instance, if you try to deliver a graphics-intensive application over a slow-bandwidth network, it does not offer a rich user experience; you need to compress and optimize for it to become usable by the client. If the client device runs on a different platform, the server has to deliver the actual bitmap data over the network.

Microsoft RDP vs. ICA Citrix

There are other protocols, such as Microsoft RDP and VMware’s PC-over-IP (PCoIP), that are generally used in remote networks. Initially, RDP delivered lower performance on graphics delivery when compared against HDX/ICA. However, Microsoft came out with RemoteFX, which delivers a rich graphical end-user experience, even on low-bandwidth networks. Moreover, Windows is still the most used OS, and RemoteFX is a preferred choice by many. However, RemoteFX officially supports only Windows and Mac clients. While HDX supports multiple platforms and OS, the cost factor and complexity in installation and deployment is a concern. Therefore, in this regard, Parallels Remote Application Server provides the best solution.

Vulnerabilities in the ICA Citrix

ICA Citrix launched intending to provide users with a high definition VDI environment. In addition, it promised users to secure access to services in VDI environments with high latencies and varying levels of Quality of Support (QoS). Thus far, ICA Citrix hasn’t lived up to its promise.

Users have reported many vulnerabilities on ICA clients older than 12.0.3. In one case, attackers executed arbitrary codes on the remote client by duping users to connect to a malicious server through the “.ICA” files or by other means. In others, hackers exploited a vulnerability in the ICA ActiveX Object (ICO)—ActiveX implementation of ICA client objects—to execute arbitrary codes on remote clients.

Whenever Citrix spots a vulnerability in its products, it always advises its customers to install the latest versions of software after patching up. Considering Citrix’s checkered past concerning security breaches in its products, you should consider a more robust VDI solution for your organization, such as Parallels® RAS.

Parallels Remote Application Server Makes a Difference

Parallels Remote Application Server leverages Microsoft RemoteFX technology to provide enhanced RDP performance over any OS. As RDP is built into clients on all major devices, it makes it easy for businesses to configure and run virtual networks quickly. Parallels RAS is easy to deploy and use. Using this tool, you can quickly build secure remote networks and publish remote desktops and applications from a centralized location.

Additionally, it supports second level authentication and offers a full set of features such as load balancing, device redirection, reporting, etc. Furthermore, it supports all major hypervisors, OSes, and platforms. By overcoming the limitation of RDP, Parallels RAS takes your published resources to any device. Most importantly, Parallels RAS comes at a fraction of the cost of Citrix solutions.

Gain all the advantages of ICA Citrix while reducing costs and complexities with Parallels RAS.

Parallels RAS makes the migration process easier with a free migration tool that automates most of XenApp use case scenarios. The migration tool extracts settings from Citrix XenApp 6.x into a file that can be imported from Parallels RAS Console.

Download your 30-day free trial of Parallels RAS and make use of that RDP protocol that is already embedded on your Windows Servers!

Citrix Migration Tools

Spend less and monitor more, maintain and scale up with ease, and deliver virtualized desktops and applications on every device ranging from Windows to Mac using Parallels RAS.

To use Parallels RAS as a viable Citrix alternative, you won’t have to worry about the lengthy, time consuming and often difficult transition from Citrix to Parallels RAS. Parallels RAS Citrix Migration tool can come to your rescue by automating most of XenApp. The migration tool extracts settings from Citrix XenApp 6.x into a file that can be imported from Parallels RAS Console.

The migration process depends greatly on the number of customers and the complexity of your infrastructure. However, you can still make the process significantly smoother by following the straightforward process instead of having to worry about doing everything manually.

Overcome the vulnerabilities and limitations of ICA Citrix by transitioning to Parallels RAS in a quick, efficient manner with almost no downtime today!

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References

What is Independent Computing Architecture (ICA)? | http://www.domsoft.com/citrix/ica.htm
What is ICA?  | http://whatis.techtarget.com/fileformat/ICA-Citrix-file
What is ICA Citrix? : ICA | http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/I/ICA.html
What is ICA Citrix? : Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) | http://www.brianmadden.com/blogs/citrix_metaframe_xp_advanced_technical_design_guide_including_feature_release_2/pages/independent-computing-architecture-ica.aspx
Comparing remote display protocols: RemoteFX vs. HDX vs. PCoIP | http://searchvirtualdesktop.techtarget.com/feature/Comparing-remote-display-protocols-RemoteFX-vs-HDX-vs-PCoIP
Parallels RAS vs. Citrix comparison matrix | https://www.parallels.com/parallels-ras-comparison/