When Citrix first announced their new product naming scheme for XenApp / XenDesktop / XenServer, I was excited. I thought the names were great. The were related to each in terms of brand family while each being sufficiently different enough to describe their own product. Sure, there was some confusion about what was what, but I thought that was temporary as people dealt with the transition.
18 months later, a lot of people are confused as ever. So much so that I'm started to wonder if the new names are really that good? (I should point out that hard core people in the industry understand the names. But I'm sure everyone who's reading this article now knows people who are confused.)
I first started to realize that people were still confused on a consulting project I did about six months ago for a large bank. The project team was getting some push-back from the security group because the security group thought there were weaknesses in the products. We had a meeting with them and spent two hours explaining our XenDesktop and XenApp architectures, and then they presented us with their evidence of weakness, which was around exploits in the XenAPI. "XenAPI? I've never even heard of that?" I thought. It turns out the reason I never heard of that is because the XenAPI is for XenServer. And this was mentioned all over the document that the security team sent, but they didn't recognize that XenServer was a different product than XenApp or XenDesktop.
Then of course there's the confusion of people who think that XenApp only works on XenServer, or that XenApp is XenServer. And now that XenDesktop can stream to bare-metal clients without hypervisors, people are confused even more.
And let's not forget the whole Xen / XenServer / XenSource thing. So, "Xen" is free, but "XenServer" is not. But now they've made XenServer free too. And there's a version of XenServer for Hyper-V, but since that's not the Xen hypervisor then they didn't want to call this XenServer for Hyper-V, so they call it Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V. But there was already a Citrix Access Essentials product which was a small business version of XenApp, so now that's XenApp Fundamentals.
Even if you "get" the concept that Citrix is trying to push: XenApp is about apps, XenDesktop is about desktops, and XenServer is about servers, it's still confusing in some cases. I mean you can use XenDesktop for full desktops (local or remote), and you can use XenApp to publish apps to those desktops (again local or remote), but you can also use XenApp to publish desktops? (remote only)
Citrix's challenge is that they're caught between a rock and a hard place. Do they stick with the existing names, confusion and all, until people finally understand? Or do they rename everything again, guaranteeing more short term confusion while hopefully alleivating long term confusion?
Or maybe they should just fire whomever is in charge of product naming. I mean if you think about the Xen-baesd names, and then think of all the other name confusion they've had, like NFuse Elite versus NFuse Classic, and MetaFrame for every product in the suite... wow!