Citrix XenApp 5.0 seems to be delayed several months. Is this the result of a "refocused Citrix"?

Citrix has announced many things here at Synergy, but one thing that's missing is an announcement of the release of the "Delaware" version of Presentation Server, which Citrix will sell as "Citrix XenApp 5.0." The current Presentation Server 4.

Citrix has announced many things here at Synergy, but one thing that's missing is an announcement of the release of the "Delaware" version of Presentation Server, which Citrix will sell as "Citrix XenApp 5.0." The current Presentation Server 4.5 product does NOT work on Windows Server 2008, so if you want to use Citrix + Server 2008, you need XenApp 5. Citrix told us again and again in 2007 that the "Delaware" edition of Presentation Server would be released 90 days after Microsoft releases Windows Server 2008.

Windows Server 2008 came out on February 28. That means we should see XenApp 5 in the end of May. Today is May 21, which means that technically Citrix has another week to release XenApp 5, but it's unlikely this will happen since they haven't mentioned it at Synergy. In fact the rumor floating around is that XenApp 5 won't actually make it out for another few months.

What's the reason for the delay? If you ask people from Citrix, you'll get one of two answers. I don't know which of these is "official," or even if they have an "official" answer, but here's what people are saying:

Excuse #1: Windows Server 2008 is not yet widely adopted for Terminal Server applications, so it's not necessary that they release a product right now. (This is definitely true, but could also be a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario.)

Excuse #2: It's not late. The whole XenApp-90-days-after-Server-2008 thing was just a "target," not a "commitment."

Neither of these excuses explain why XenApp 5 is taking so long. One possible explanation could be that rewriting major sections of Presentation Server to run on Server 2008 is just really complex, and perhaps that's taking longer than Citrix anticipated. This doesn't make sense though, because Citrix and Microsoft keep on reminding us how close they are, and the new features and interfaces of Windows Server 2008 have been known for a long time. In fact even the little company Ericom managed to get the Windows Server 2008 version of their server-based computing product out the door the same day Microsoft released Server 2008. (I know, I know.. You could argue that Ericom's product is much simpler than Citrix's and thus easier to port to Server 2008. But that doesn't change the fact that the new features and inner workings of Server 2008 have been known for years, that Microsoft and Citrix are BFFs, and that Citrix told everyone about a million times that XenApp 5 would be out 90 days after Server 2008.)

Regardless of what you call it, the reality is that XenApp 5 is not coming out when Citrix said it would.

The bigger picture: Citrix's focus is evolving

In addition to the whole "the process is taking longer than we expected" reason for slipping the XenApp 5 release date, this could be the result of a larger shift within the company. Firstly, from a very tactical standpoint, Presentation Server / XenApp is a fairly mature product. If you look at the new features that Citrix introduced in Presentation Server 4.5, they weren't groundbreaking. The same is true for XenApp 5. The biggest new "feature" is the fact that will run on Server 2008. The core product is more-or-less the same as it's been for years.

This means that Citrix doesn't need to spend as much engineering and product management time on XenApp.

Compare that to XenDesktop, which is (1) a hot, trendy area, and (2) anyone's game. Citrix already owns the XenApp space, so they can coast a bit there. But if Citrix also wants to own the XenDesktop space, they're going to have to work like crazy to get feature-filled, solid products out the door as fast as they can.

But potentially more important than the tactical logistics of selling XenApp, is what the XenApp product means to Citrix philosophically. XenApp is the eptiome of "Old Citrix"--the Florida-based SBC company of yore. "New Citrix" is in California and all about virtualization and XenServer and NetScaler. New Citrix is sexy. Old Citrix is tired.

This dichotomy puts the company in a difficult place. Citrix is doing what, $800m a year in "old Citrix" Presentation Server sales? Not to minimize the efforts of the field, but that's a relatively easy revenue stream. Presentation Server has a huge install base (70m users), it has huge margins (since Citrix is a monopoly in this space), and Citrix is obviously able to keep on selling products without updating them too often.

But Citrix realizes that delivering Windows applications to business users will not bring them $800m (or whatever it is now) plus the growth they need to keep Wall St. happy for the next five years. So they need to evolve beyond SBC. Of course this is obvious and not new. They've been wanting to evolve for years. What's new, though, is that now they're actually evolving instead of just wanting to evolve.

This actual evolution started a few years ago with the purchase of Net6 and NetScaler. Rick Dehlinger and I talked a lot about the "Califorication" of Citrix back on our Drive 2006 tour. But the $500m acquistion of XenSource last August really vaulted Citrix into a new league and solidified the fact that "this isn't your daddy's Citrix" anymore. (Citrix employees say that Mark Templeton even house a house in California now. And even if that's not true, the fact that some employees think it's true is telling.)

Imagine that you worked at Citrix. Imagine you worked as a product manager or developer in the "old school" SBC part of Citrix that was responsible for Presentation Server. Sure, you're true to your roots and you believe in SBC. But it hard to work in the part of the company that it's sexy anymore. So what can you do? Hey! XenDesktop is pretty sexy. It combines the old school SBC with the new virtualization stuff. There's strong competition in a wide-open market, and every day is exciting. And the opportunity... oh, the opportunity! Mark Templeton said that XenDesktop could potentially be used for 400 million desktops! Compare that to XenApp for 70m users today, and you're looking at a potential market that's almost six times bigger!

This is what's happening in the company now. Anecdotally it seems that every person I know at Citrix from the Presentation Server product group has either left the company or moved over to work on XenDesktop.

In the grand scheme of things, this might not be a bad thing. This is the kind of thing that will grow Citrix year-over-year and keep them relevant moving forwawrd. But it also explains the reality on the ground as to why XenApp is missing it's release date.

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What is wrong with VMware? Why are they so agressive? Is this a tactic or are they plainly worried? Today's e-mail to the whole VMware community about XenDesktop was really a shameful act. They have great products but I am getting to dislike them and their style of doing business and from what I hear so are HP and IBM.


A hardware vendor commented, when asked about their relation with Citrix and VMware, that when they speak with Citrix the engineers talk to each other and with VMware lawyers talk to lawyers. Hmmm....kind of a paranoid company this VMware.


 

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I have a hard time believing this... how come when they talk about about VDI/DDI everyone seems to forget about mobility??? ...and the fact that business is no longer just the brick&mortar offices that we're used to. In 2007 consumers bought more laptops than desktops and it has been estimated that 2008 we'll see this shift in the corporate world also.

Maybe it's just me but I still think the hype for VDI is much larger than the reality.
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What did the email say?
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You probably will be using a "thin client laptop" in about 5-10 years with the virtual desktop(s) and applications running on Amazon EC2 cloud, the device boasting some 100Mb wireless connection (for on-demand video streaming of course). Yes we will all have laptops :)
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Here's the text: 


Dear <name>,
 
Yesterday, Citrix announced the immediate availability of XenDesktop, a collection of technologies intended to provide a virtualized desktop experience. This competitive flash summarizes what was announced, explores specific claims that may cause confusion, and provides guidance for VMware sales professionals and partners.


Executive Summary


XenDesktop: What Can it Really Do, and How Much Does it Really Cost?


Citrix has widely promoted the concept of application streaming, and the idea that XenDesktop offers a "new PC at each log on". This message has created confusion, because to achieve a "new PC at each log on", multiple products must be integrated. Evidence of this confusion is also in the press. The Register recently published Citrix's XenDesktop can fly you to the moon, an article about misleading product claims by Citrix. Brian Madden also examines Citrix XenDesktop pricing and competition with Citrix's own XenApp (Presentation Server) products in his blog entry Citrix XenDesktop pricing is out-of-whack. One of the main value propositions of a virtual desktop is that all your applications work in a VDI environment. By bundling XenApp (Presentation Server) into their desktop solution, Citrix is making customers use XenApp (Presentation Server) for application deployment which doesn't work for many applications. In addition, customers will have to pay the additional CAPEX and management costs for XenApp (Presentation Server). At a minimum, this includes server and storage hardware, and a Windows Server license for each XenApp server. Furthermore, customers may need to buy a Terminal Services CAL for each user.


XenDesktop: Complex, Poorly Integrated, Built on a Platform That Has an Uncertain Future


Citrix XenDesktop software is complex, consisting of different disparate components bundled together. The underlying XenServer virtualization platform is also unproven in enterprise environments. Both Citrix and Microsoft have stated that Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor will replace XenServer. Customers who deploy XenDesktop will use a virtualization platform that has an uncertain future. Several customers who have evaluated XenDesktop failed to deploy the complicated solution. Citrix's XenDesktop keynote demonstration at their user conference, Synergy, didn't even work.


VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is Built on a Proven Platform and is Easy to Deploy
In contrast to Citrix XenDesktop, customers that deploy VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) gain all the robustness and proven enterprise capabilities of the industry leading VMware Virtual Infrastructure (VI3) platform. VMware VDI is mature and much simpler to deploy than XenDesktop. XenDesktop deployments have up to eight different wizards, applications, and management consoles; VMware VDI uses two. Partners can have VMware VDI installed and working on their first customer visit, while XenDesktop can take days to get even a simple system deployed.


Bottom Line


We encourage VMware partners to clearly articulate how the virtualization platform is a strategic technology underlying virtual desktop deployments. Citrix's claims about product features, such as whether XenDesktop includes application streaming or virtualization capabilities, and claims of disk storage savings without noting significant restrictions, should not go unchallenged.


Read more
 
Best regards,
Jeff Jennings
Vice President, Desktop Products and Solutions

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That last paragraph mut be written by a "simple" person, read it "to clearly articulate how the virtualization platform is a strategic technology underlying virtual desktop deployments". A bit running off topic and means that they are really not so interested in VDI but in ESX sales :) Significant restrictions, oh really.
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I was never a convert to vmware but seen this email really turns me off for good.
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Thanks for posting the email. It actually reminds of a bitter ex-girlfriend....His new girlfriend is complex while I'm much easier.. :P
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I don't understand why VMWare is so turned off by the release of XenDesktop. From what I understand all the XenDesktop features works just as well with VMWare hosted VMs as they do with XenServer hosted VMs. VMware is far more proven than XenServer is so you'd think XenDesktop sales would lead to more VMware sales to host the VMs on. How is this bad for VMware?
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Simple, VMWare are acting like this, because they are sore losers. They dont have a product which is better, so they turn to throwing mud and giving false information and lies to their customers.


Ill never advise a VMWare product to a customer ever again. BAH!

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"while XenDesktop can take days to get even a simple system deployed"


Obviously they never loaded the code.


Today, using the RTM code, I reinstalled my two Xen Servers (about 30 minutes to Xen, but there you go), installed a new domain controller, SQL server, web server, two DDC's, two provisioning servers in HA mode, two XenApp 4.5 servers, 10 Vista desktops and 10 XP desktops.


Anyone with prior knowledge of CPS and Web Interface experience would find this simple as it is all based on familiar Citrix components.


I got the VMWare VDI solution up and running in a similar time frame, and yes VI is a great back end for this stuff, but sour grapes like this makes me want to boycott their stuff altogether.


 VMWare....love the technology....starting to hate the company.

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My belief is that VMware thought it would be a great idea to bring the desktops to the datacenter for one reason only - it means that they could sell more storage. All you need to do is ask who owns 90% of VMware - EMC.


I have seen the VMware solution and it is very feature poor compared to the Citrix VDI solution. From what I have seen, Citrix's goals are to remove the storage and management costs when implementing a VDI solution. You can't do that effectively with a VMware VDI solution.


VMware are playing dirty because they now have a viable competitor in the market. Let them focus on the competition - because the energy they spend there means they are not confident about their own product and need to drag down the competition any way they can, to give them some hope. The energy they spend on talking about Citrix is great for Citrix as they are keeping their eye off the ball. They've had every opportunity to play with Citrix, but think that they can do everything themselves. They've annoyed Microsoft, they've annoyed their partners and they're annoying their customers.


I look forward to seeing VMware watch Citrix complete the play and run in for the touch down.

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Marketing is evil, every press release I've seen contains false facts
or is at the very least misleading from an engineering viewpoint. CxO's
may buy into this stuff but the IT people should not. I agree that this
latest mail out of VMware is very very bad, I hope they fire the idiot
behind that strategy, but in the end it's just marketing FUD and should
be dispelled like that.


Do your own comparison, you should talk
to your customers about the best solution in any given situation, don't
let anyone be fooled by evil marketing drones.


As far as
slipping on the release date goes, you know that's how it is, roadmap
features get canceled, dates slip, things don't work, but you can't
blame the troops in the field evangelizing this stuff really. 


In the end Microsoft sucks and lies, Citrix does, VMware does, everybody does.


Don't
let them fool you, check it out for yourselves or talk to somebody who
actually knows and is not in Marketing (or sales ;-)

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VMware has never had any competition in server virtualisation and is a company of engineers not clued up on sales and marketing. This email was a piece of bad marketing by an amateur. Its further evidence that they are a one-trick pony whose days are numbered.
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Citrix better regain focus because XenApp is their main core client base.


How many years will it take Citrix to port all the management features from "Presentation Server Console" to Access Management Console? This is frustrating to create Load balancing Load evaluators in Presentation Server Console and then have to assign them in Access Management Console. Why do we have to jump between two utilites to manage 1 farm is frustrating. Citrix should have been able to transfer all management to the MMC 2 years ago.


The migration from PSC to AMC spans 3 versions and 4+ years. 

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This all reminds me of the political posturing of the primary candidates.


I do believe the VMWare letter has merit.

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In our enterprise we have been using Presentation Server in a VDI fashion since 2002, publishing primarily desktops. We also just wrapped up a successful thin client pilot using laptop form factor thin clients. We are currently only targetting developers, who require elevated privileges, for a Windows XP/Vista flavor of VDI. Offline capabilities are still an issue, but many vendors are actively devloping solutions for that requirement. Many employees who have moved to laptops also have a remote VPN connectivity into the corporate intranet, eliminating most of the offline requirements.

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You clearly have no experience with virtualization in the enterprise. XenServer simply hasn't got the features up to the required level in this space at the moment. What a stupid ignorant post. BAH !
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After reading this link - Now we know that Citrix has lost their focus!


Citrix is not a company that cares what the customer wants - it is all about marketing and what Mark Templeton wants.....

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Unless I misread, the previous poster did not state that Xen Server was better than VI/ESX, they merely stated that they had compared the broker solutions and preferred Xen Desktop.


From my experience thus far the best solution as always is a mix of technologies, Xen Desktop as the broker and VI at the back end.


Also from my experience, Xen Server may not be as enterprise ready as ESX and its management suite, but with add-ons from third parties such as Marathon it can provide an interesting, more cost effective alternative.


I dont think Citrix themselves would say that Xen Server is about to blow VI/ESX away, but for the SMB market place it's a great product which provides good functionality at its price point.


 

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I think you are over reacting in your reply above, what do you mean Citrix has lost its focus.  I also attended iForum that year and nothing was ever agreed about the "one" console. 


People should just focus and comment on the features that Delaware has to offer and not nit-picking and being generally negative. 

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The management interface and the ease of management are features. This is an incomplete half butt implementation of the management interface feature. Citrix has started something 4 years ago and has not invested the resources or made it a priority to finish what they started.
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Makes me wonder whether it's worth renewing it next time around.  What are we actually paying for these days?  We've used Citrix products for nearly 10 years and for the last couple of years at renewal time i get from the head of IT...."Is it really worth renewing this?"  This year I'm gonna have to think carefully about my answer.  Especially as one of our partner companies just put in a competitor to Ctx for a fraction of the cost.


Rant Over.

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