A few weeks ago, I wrote that Citrix pricing was out-of-whack because Citrix XenApp was $350-$600 per CCU, while Citrix XenDesktop was $75-$275 per CCU. I called this an "application tax" because publishing a single application cost much more than publishing a full desktop (since the single app required the expensive XenApp while publishing the desktop required the less expense XenDesktop). At their Synergy conference last week, Citrix officially released XenDesktop, and in doing so they announced some surprise bundling and pricing. XenDesktop will be available in five (ugh!) versions, all priced per concurrent user:
XenDesktop Express (free)
- Basic functionality for VM-based desktops
- Includes the free version of XenServer
- Max 10 users
XenDesktop Standard ($75)
- No user limit
- Adds secure remote access for outside the firewall connections
XenDesktop Advanced ($195)
- Adds Citrix Provisioning Server (Ardence)
- Adds XenMotion and resource pooling on the back end
XenDesktop Enterprise ($295)
- Adds Citrix Presentation Server / XenApp.
XenDesktop Platinum ($395)
- Adds EdgeSight
- Adds desktop support / shadowing via GoToAssist
- Adds WAN optimization via WANScaler (you still have to buy the appliance though)
- Adds EasyCall
The big news here is that XenDesktop Enterprise (and XenDesktop Platinum) include XenApp for free. The catch is that this free version of XenApp can only be used to deliver (via ICA or streaming) applications into XenDesktop desktops.
The other big announcement from Citrix was that existing customers of XenApp Platinum (i.e. those who have already paid $600 per user) can now buy a XenDesktop Advanced add-on for only $95 per user, instead of the full price of $295.
Therefore, if you want to get both XenDesktop and XenApp:
|If you own||Cost||Total CCU price|
|XenDesktop Platinum||XenApp for XenDesktop is free||$395*|
|XenApp Enterprise||$95 for XenDesktop add-on||$545 ($450+$95)|
|XenApp Platinum||$95 for XenDesktop add-on||$695 ($600+$95)|
*The free XenApp included here can only be used to deliver apps to the XenDesktop desktops
It's important to note that XenDesktop and XenApp are still two wholly and completely separate products. There's an "integrated" end user experience in that you can build a single Citrix Web Interface portal that can aggregate applications and desktops from both XenApp and XenDesktop environments, but on the back end, XenApp and XenDesktop are still separate installs, separate management consoles, separate farms, and separate databases. In other words, these special deals are license bundles only, not actual product integrations.
As a side note, I still thing XenDesktop is a great product overall, but with several pros and cons. I'll take a look at the pros and cons later this week. This article is purely focusing on the licensing / bundling / pricing of XenDesktop when combined with XenApp.
Citrix application tax complexities
Do these bundling options fix Citrix's application tax?
My first reaction was "Yes! This is cool!" (And to be fair, anytime any vendor offers something for free or a heavy discount, it's cool.) But after thinking through this, it still seems kind of weird.
To understand why, let's take a step back. Citrix has offered Terminal Server-based application delivery solutions for ten years. So now in 2008, why isn't every single application in the world delivered via Terminal Services? Two reasons. The first is that some apps or use cases are not compatible with Terminal Server. (app won't install, users need to be able to install their own apps, etc.) The second reason the whole world doesn't use Terminal Services is that some apps or use cases are just not compatible with server-based computing. (apps are needed offline, apps are graphically-intense, apps need realtime audio, etc.) VDI products like Citrix XenDesktop solve the first problem since the apps don't run on TS, but they don't solve the second problem since they're still SBC solutions.
So what's this have to do with Citrix's application tax complexity?
If you can get all of your applications and use cases to be compatible with SBC, great, because you can buy XenDesktop for $295/$395 and get XenApp for free. (Remember the version of XenApp that's bundled with XenDesktop can only be used to deliver apps to XenDesktop sessions.) But if you can't use an SBC desktop then you need to buy the old school version of XenApp for $350-$600.
In other words, you're penalized $55-$205 per user for using XenApp with a non-XenDesktop-managed desktop.
Now that XenDesktop includes XenApp for free, who will buy XenApp?
Depends on who you ask. We've already seen that Citrix has begun shifting resources away from XenApp to focus on XenDesktop. But I'm solidly with Shawn Bass who argues there are major limitations to VDI solutions today, and they cannot be used for the wholesale replacement of traditional desktops. So XenApp in its expensive standalone form should be around awhile, right? Too bad the CXOs of the world are going to read that XenDesktop is the "cheap" way to XenApp and want to deploy it for all their users immediately.
One final somewhat random thought about this pricing weirdness. One of the cool future use cases of XenDesktop that Citrix mentioned a few times at Synergy last week was the potential for reverse seamless. While I agree that this is a super add-on capability to XenDesktop that can MAJORLY increase its viability, using reverse seamless means that you'd have to add the pay for the full XenApp price ($350-$600), plus the XenDesktop add-on ($95). You can't do reverse seamless with XenDesktop at the $295/$395 level since the XenApp that comes with that can only put apps in the XenDesktop desktop. So you could argue actual cost of reverse seamless would be $150 to $300 per CCU!