Citrix lagging in the 'multi-tenancy'? No worries! Microsoft's has boundaryless datacenter plans!

Right now it would appear that VMware has a better cloud story around desktop virtualization than Citrix.

Right now it would appear that VMware has a better cloud story around desktop virtualization than Citrix. This is thanks to VMware's purchase of Desktone which has given them a "real" desktop virtualization platform that was written from Day One for desktop cloud providers. It has the multitenancy, automation, isolation, security, billing, and serviceability built in. Awesome.

Compare that to Citrix, who has XenDesktop and XenApp. Both of these products were designed and built in the days when everyone ran their own servers in their own datacenters—a time when the only group of users they had to worry about was their own. These products are not "cloud ready" at all. Citrix's temporary solution has been to release the App Orchestration kit, which is essentially a set of scripts that build XenDesktop and XenApp environments for a cloud provider's customer. (With Citrix, cloud providers end up creating full XenDesktop/XenApp stacks that are completely isolated from each other.)

Before I get too far, allow me to preempt the inevitable comments on this. Citrix is doing a great job with this so far. (Over 2600 Citrix Service Providers and 300k customers, mostly using XenApp and XenDesktop. So obviously it's working.) But also let's call a spade a spade. Those 2600+ CSPs are collectively running 300k separate on-premises architectures with millions of service VMs on their hardware. Citrix claims this is multi-tenant and that those who say otherwise are just throwing mud. But that's just a  lot of marketing trying to obscure the fact that the latest FMA-based versions of XenApp and XenDesktop have been architected for single tenant, traditional on-premises environments.

So if you were Citrix with your on-premises-oriented products today, what would you do? Do you try to rewrite your stuff from scratch for the cloud? No, instead you do what you've always done. You wait for Microsoft to make changes to their platform, and then you ride them into the sunset. It's worked before, and it will work again.

Have you heard Microsoft talk about the future of Windows Server and how it fits into the "datacenter without boundaries?" It's awesome. The gist is that the next version of Windows Server will be totally integrated with Azure-based cloud services. It won't be so much as "Windows Server" as it is "Azure Light in a box." You'll be able to add roles in Azure (or Microsoft-based clouds from other providers) as simply as you can add them to a server now.

This is Microsoft's answer to the hybrid cloud. They want to make it where it really doesn't whether the hardware is yours, Microsoft's, or another provider's.

Now tie this back to Citrix. If Citrix plays their cards right, they don't have to massively overhaul XenDesktop and XenApp to be  multi-tenant or to compete with VMWare Horizon DaaS (Desktone). Instead they can evolve their products just like Microsoft, slowly breaking down the boundaries of the datacenter.

It will take time for Microsoft to get there. We're starting to see it in Server 2012 R2 and will really see it blossom in Server 2015 (or whatever they call it next). In the meantime, Citrix can just focus on building scripts for service providers for their products now, and then they can hit the ground with a cloud-ready (internal or external) product in another year or so that leverages everything Microsoft is doing. The relationship is good and there's no reason Citrix should build the cloud platform themselves.

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This sounds great, but it then ties Citrix to a Azure solution!!

@Brian - What percentage of the eventual DaaS business do you see Azure taking?

As a parallel argument, Citrix customers are currently used to a desktop virtualisation solution which is agnostic to the underlying hypervisor. In my experience, a lions share of customers still use vSphere, then XenServer and at the tail end (although the balance is changing) Hyper-V.

If you take this to the Cloud, how many customers would Citrix lose if their primary route to the DaaS market is Azure?

As a final example, the XenApp/XenDesktop 7.5 release has the capability of delivering desktops directly into an AWS or CloudStack capable Cloud. A quick Google reveals a recent blog which states that 'Azure support will be added soon'.  This doesn't sound like a company that's betting it's future on Microsoft Azure !!!


@Brian - Did you read the information from my blog post concerning our Application Orchestration capabilities availble in our latest Cloud Provider Pack?  If you haven't please do.  If you have, what are your thoughts on the multi-tenancy management scenarios enabled by App Orchestration 2.0?  Either way it sounds like it would be a good idea for us to get on a phone call to talk about DaaS and Citrix's Multi-tenancy capabilities.  It already goes a long way beyond FMA and XenDesktop.

BTW:  I enjoyed the new book!


XA/XA 7.5 you will see this. Like said above you will be able to provision to AWS along with Citrix Cloud Platform with Windows Azure in the future. We (Shane K, Dane Y, and myself) submitted a session and got accepted for BriForum Boston around private cloud tools. I will be discussing the Citrix piece along with the new XA/XD integration. Dane will be talking about Microsoft and Shane will be talking about VMware.


Perhaps they will bring back and call is DaaSzzle.