Citrix is helping pin down what it costs to use XenApp in Azure

Citrix's XenApp on Azure Cost Calculator isn't a cost model as much as it is a guide to help you understand how desktop virtualization cloud services are priced.

As we talked about in our podcast earlier this week with Dane Young, Citrix is all-in on Microsoft Azure, and the messaging around their cloud activity dwarfs that of the messaging around good ole’ on-premises XenDesktop and XenApp. That’s strange because the overwhelming majority of XenDesktop and XenApp users are of the traditional variety, and though they may be intrigued by the prospects of moving to the cloud, there are many roadblocks that are holding them back from looking much deeper.

One of the things that can be difficult to wrap your head around is the pricing. Hosting an application server instance in the cloud or subscribing to a SaaS offering is easy enough to work out, but with so many moving parts it’s a lot harder to determine what hosting XenApp or XenDesktop workloads might cost. You have different virtual machine instances to pick from for infrastructure components versus desktop and application workloads. Which zone those instances run from affects the instance pricing, so that needs to be taken into consideration. Networking and storage are billed based on usage and configuration, which you’re forced to estimate. Plus, different user types require different allocations of resources, from IOPs to bandwidth to hours per day.

There is a lot to keep track of, and it’s enough to scare people off. To help with this, Citrix recently announced a XenApp on Azure Cost Calculator to help estimate the cost of running XenApp workloads in the cloud. It can help you find the right ballpark for either extended environments where you manage everything on premises and host some of the workloads in the cloud, or for environments that run entirely on the Citrix Cloud.

Ordinarily we’re not huge proponents of cost models here at, in general because too easy to overlook or overestimate certain aspects that can drastically affect the overall cost of a solution. Taken one step further and used as a comparison, you can use that ambiguity to “fix” the results to say just about anything you want. That said, in some cases cost models are useful, especially when they’re limited to a narrow scope with a nice disclaimer at the top.

That’s exactly what Citrix did. They’ve narrowed the scope of their calculator to XenApp on Azure (support for VDI workloads is planned for a later release). The calculator lets you configure the important factors that determine price, such as storage, networking, instance type, and geographical location. It clearly states that your mileage may vary and that this isn’t a pricing quote. Plus, just to give it that last little boost in legitimacy, it’s not comparing anything to anything else. No Citrix Cloud versus on-premises XenDesktop or XenApp, and no Citrix versus VMware.

The result is an informational tool that can help you begin to understand the costs associated with moving desktop and application workloads to the cloud. It’s a guidepost on the way to the cloud that can help you decide whether or not this is anything worth considering, plus it introduces you to Azure concepts that may be foreign up to this point. Of course, this isn’t the only thing holding companies back, but adding some transparency to what is actually going on behind the scenes is certainly not a bad thing.

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