The DAT Group has launched to the healthcare market Panther Server 2002, as an affordable alternative to Citrix Metaframe, and has appointed Centrom as its exclusive partner for the healthcare IT market.

Like Citrix, Panther is a new Enterprise Management Platform for remotely delivering and managing Windows-based applications to client desktops across a network.

Leading UK health ICT vendors, including iSOFT and Torex, are now examining how Panther can help them deliver their applications to users. Proof of concept testing work is also currently taking place at an acute NHS Trust in the South East of England.

Advantages claimed by DAT Group for Panther over Citrix include: significantly lower licence and support costs, less need for expensive consultancy and accreditation, reduced training required for software engineers and easy integration with existing software.

“For years there has been no choice for the customer. Citrix Metaframe has been the only option available as a management platform for server-based computing environments,” stated Phil Greenhalgh, Product Director DAT Group.

Mr Greenhalgh told E-Health Insider that Panther offered a more compelling, faster return on investment. He added: "Panther offers an easier to use solution, with all the important features at significantly lower costs, particularly pertinent to the NHS considering the pressures on IT funding and need to obtain value for money.”

By bringing together all of the facilities of terminal services under one platform, Panther is said to offer significant cost and usage benefits to any size NHS organisation, from multi-site NHS Trusts, Community Hospitals, Strategic Health Authorities to Primary Care sites.

Centrom Ltd has been appointed to act as the exclusive partner in the distribution of Panther to the healthcare marketplace. It is now working with end-users to provide a viable alternative to deploying terminal server based applications.

Mark Venables, managing director of Centrom, said: “Panther is a smart, elegant solution that has been designed to fully integrate with Microsoft Terminal Services meaning users with Microsoft expertise can be utilised without the burden of additional training and support overheads.

Mr Venables told E-Health Insider that the thin client model of delivering applications to users across a network from a central cluster of servers "will be absolutely invaluable in delivering the goals of the NHS IT strategy". He pointed to the shared services programme for HR and Payroll as prime examples of this approach being implemented nationally.

The Panther application has been specifically designed for Microsoft Windows 2000 Terminal Services, and is fully supported by Microsoft. DAT Group is a Microsoft Gold Partner.

"Panther can now deliver the necessary management and user capabilities that our customers are requesting in a cost effective manner,” states Paul Randle Product Marketing Manager, Terminal Services, Microsoft UK.

Centrom is offering a free demonstration copy of Panther at .