A general-purpose presentation services protocol for Microsoft Windows operating system platforms. The Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) protocol was developed by Citrix for Citrix Winframe to run on Windows NT Server, and is implemented in Windows NT Server, Terminal Server Edition.
ICA lets the user interface of an application run with minimal consumption of resources on a client device while the actual application logic executes on an ICA-enabled server. In this respect, ICA is similar to the X Windows protocol for UNIX platforms.
The only data transferred between the server and the client device over the network are the user interface, keystrokes, and mouse movements. This results in minimal resource requirements for the client, allowing the use of a «thin client».
ICA also provides location independence because it runs the Windows NT Server operating system and application program at a centralized location while displaying the user interface on any supporting client.
The ICA protocol runs over most industry-standard networking protocols, such as TCP/IP, NetBEUI, IPX/SPX, and Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP). It also runs over transport protocols such as Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), frame relay, and Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM).Users can access standard Windows applications running on a remote ICA-based server over dial-up, local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), or Internet connections. Applications can be launched from Web pages or from Windows desktops, making the ICA protocol a platform-independent solution.