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.