"XenApp" is brilliant!

Wow! I miss three days of work with the flu, and when I come back, Presentation Server doesn't exist anymore!

Wow! I miss three days of work with the flu, and when I come back, Presentation Server doesn't exist anymore! By now most people know that what we discussed a few weeks ago is now official: Citrix Presentation Server has been renamed as Citrix XenApp.

I love the name XenApp. I didn't at first. My gut reaction was that this was a hasty marketing name change by Citrix. But once I got over the shock of change (the shock that would come with any name change), I whole-heartily agree with Citrix that the new name makes much more sense than the old name.

The name XenApp is important for two reasons:

First, the name "Presentation Server" had been around since 2003. While five years is not too long for a product name, you have to remember that for more than four of those five years, "Presentation Server" meant "Terminal Server-based SBC product." When Citrix added locally-executed streaming as an application delivery option in 2007, the Presentation Server product's role was greatly evolved. But unfortunately most people glossed right over that new delivery mode and continued to view the product as an SBC-only solution. (Why so few cared about the app streaming functionality certainly has to do with more than just the name, but the connotations of the name certainly didn't help.)

The new XenApp name is sufficiently different and allows people to get to know a different product--one that delivers applications via server-based computing and local streaming.

The second reason the XenApp name is important has to do with how it slots into Citrix's other products. In the preceding two paragraphs, the word "application" was mentioned numerous times. Citrix Presentation Server was a lot more about "virtualizing" applications than it was "presenting" them. (It "virtualizes" apps in the truest sense of the word--it separates the application installation and delivery from the client device--both via streaming and SBC.) Thus a more appropriate name for the product would be something along the lines of "Virtual App Server." Of course Citrix couldn't actually use the Virtual App Server name because that's the new name that Microsoft gave SoftGrid. Also, Citrix just spent $500m buying the marketing rights to a synonym for "virtual," which is "Xen." So their "virtual server" product is "XenServer," there "virtual desktop" product is "XenDesktop," and their "virtual app" server is "XenApp."

XenServer, XenApp, XenDesktop. The three names definitely fit together nicely in terms of product family. Truth be told the "Xen" part of those product names is arbitrary. They could have picked just about any word they wanted--so long as it was the same word across the family--and "Xen" has a nice Eastern religion "enlightenment" ring to it. (At least in the Western world. In the Eastern world it might be offensive for all I know.)

Word has it that within the halls of Ft. Lauderdale, people are already using the name "XenApp" quite naturally. It's uptake is certainly more solid in less time than Presentation Server ever was. Even the old guys with the sandals who used the term "MetaFrame" up until last month are now talking about "XenApp this" and "XenDesktop that."

"XenApp" the phrase is just so much nicer sounding than "Presentation Server." Two syllables instead of six. XenApp has a much better chance of entering the IT vernacular as a verb, much like google. "How are we going to deliver this new app? Let's xenapp it."

Surprisingly, after two weeks, the only people who are really bent out of shape over the XenApp name are the old school (if four years can be 'old') Xen project faithful because the XenApp product doesn't have any pre-merger XenSource code. "Xen" is just about hypervisors to these folks. (This is coming from the community, not from within the company. Those within the former XenSource company have about 500 million reasons to have no problem with XenApp.)

This is a big win for Citrix. It will be easier to explain. It will be easier to understand what-does-what. And most importantly, it will be easier to sell.



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