I predict that by the end of next year, VMware Horizon 6 will be neck-and-neck with Citrix XenDesktop / XenApp in the enterprise.
I base this prediction on talking to many customers (several of them very large), who are seriously looking at Horizon 6 as their next platform to replace their current XenApp 6.x environments. In fact I’d say that almost every company is considering it (as they should—competition is a good thing), with many saying it’s a forgone conclusion that they’ll migrate from XenApp to Horizon during their next update cycle.
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The “next update cycle” is the key here. VMware released Horizon 6 with RDSH & published app support 16 months ago. Typical XenApp refresh life cycles are longer than that—more like 3-to-5 years—so while 16 months of Horizon 6 has been long enough for customers to start to look at it, but it hasn’t been long enough for the bulk of upgrades to actually take place. (Also keep in mind that most enterprises were focused on Windows 7, but with it’s EOL now less than five years away and with Windows 10 out, customers are starting to think about their longer term plans for what’s next.)
The mere fact that VMware now has a competing product to XenApp is certainly worth some percentage of the market. But when you combine that with Citrix’s missteps, you have an environment where VMware could make some very signifcant gains.
If you look at everything Citrix has done wrong in the past few years and put it into one single list (something which Elliott did for us), does not look good for them. To summarize it, the bulk of the buzz around Citrix is about how badly they’re screwing everything up, while the buzz around VMware is how they’re doing everything right.
This kind of echoes Gabe’s point from last week which was essentially, “Do you think Citrix is better now than they were three years ago?” (This reminds me of Reagan’s famous 1980 pre-election speech, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”)
First they killed and then un-killed XenApp. Then they created XenApp 7 and tried to get customers to adopt it, but experienced backlash since XenApp 7 loses key features that customers have come to depend on in XenApp 6.x.
Then Citrix spent more than half their keynote at Synergy talking about experimental future things like the Internet of Things rather than their core products.
Citrix has provided “Tier 1” integration between their mobile apps and ShareFile, despite the fact that most of the enterprise world is going with products like Box, Dropbox, and OneDrive—none of which smoothly integrate with Citrix’s clients. (So customers are essentially penalized for going with their choice of file sync products.)
On top of that, Citrix is now competing with Microsoft in several key categories. Despite the decades of partnership, many key components of the XenApp/XenDesktop suite (XenServer, ShareFile, XenMobile) now directly compete against similar offerings from Microsoft. (I say “compete” because if you buy the related Microsoft product, you do not need the similar product that Citrix offers.)
Meanwhile VMware has been doing everything right. They have been quietly updating Horizon all this time.They’ve made key hires (Sumit Dhawan, Shawn Bass, plus many others). They have AirWatch which is one of the industry leading EMM platforms, but they smartly are not forcing customers to use it.
And of course the vast majority of Citrix XenDesktop / XenApp environments are on vSphere already anyway. So VMware “owns” the infrastructure and is growing “up” the stack to the application delivery, while Microsoft is sitting at the OS level and expanding “down” to the infrastructure. So Citrix is getting pressure from both sides.
Historically speaking, Citrix dominated the RDSH / published apps world with XenApp. I don’t know what the actual marketshare data, but it was a lot, like 90%-ish.
But when it comes to VDI, Citrix didn’t have the same kind of lead over VMware View. Now that VMware added RDSH and published apps (and the hypervisor that most people use), they’re saying all the right things while Citrix is trying to figure out their story around XenApp 7, claw back some goodwill they lost, pick a new CEO, and deal with an activist hedge fund who many people fear will slice the company and sell off the pieces.
What about Citrix inspires confidence now in the XenApp space for the next upgrade cycle?
What about VMware inspires confidence?
What do you think is going to happen as we enter the next round of upgrades?
The tides are changing…..