Citrix releases virtual appliance version of WAN accelerator. Built into XenDesktop? When?

Back in 2007 I wrote how WANscaler could become Citrix's secret weapon if they integrated its WAN smarts into the server-side creation of ICA (now HDX) data packets. Then in 2009, I wrote about WAN optimization again, stressing that the emergence of client-based computing solutions will reinforce the importance of the WAN.

Back in 2007 I wrote how WANscaler could become Citrix’s secret weapon if they integrated its WAN smarts into the server-side creation of ICA (now HDX) data packets. Then in 2009, I wrote about WAN optimization again, stressing that the emergence of client-based computing solutions will reinforce the importance of the WAN. (After all, I think 90% of “VDI” will ultimately be client-based.)

Really I’ve thought that Citrix has been kind of squandering a great opportunity to tightly integrate WAN acceleration into the servers (or VMs) that deliver the apps. Of course this is great news for companies like Expand Networks and Riverbed whose WAN accelerator products actually do better than Citrix’s own Branch Repeaters. (“Branch Repeater” is the current name for Citrix’s WAN Accelerators—products that were once called “WANscaler.”)

So you can imagine my glee when I read that Citrix would introduce a virtual appliance version of their Branch Repeater.

Unfortunately this announcement is nothing more than taking the physical Branch Repeater and moving it to a virtual platform. (Which of course is still cool and makes sense, but when the f can we get these things integrated with the delivery servers?)

Details of the virtual appliance version of the Branch Repeater

Citrix uses the “VPX” brand extension to denote virtual appliance versions of their networking hardware. (NetScaler VPX, Access Gateway VPX, and now, Branch Repeater VPX.)

The new Branch Repeater VPX will be available next week. Like the physical version, there will be a cost for the “appliance” as well as a per-user licensing cost. This model is different than XenApp and XenDesktop, which both let you build as many servers (physical or virtual) as you need as long as you pay for your users. I would imagine that the VPX line of products will eventually move over to user-based (or throughput-based) licensing eventually, although I guess its understandable why they’re not there yet.

Like the Access Gateway VPX (which was released last month—here’s a YouTube overview demo), the Branch Repeater VPX will come in a single edition which will max out at 500 concurrent users per virtual appliance. I guess this is to prevent customers from buying a single virtual appliance which they then load onto a dedicated huge box... Although again, as long as Citrix is getting licensing dollars from the user connections, I’m not sure why they’d care about the server allocation?

From the client licensing standpoint, the platinum editions of both XenDesktop and XenApp include the full “universal” client access for both Access Gateways and Branch Repeaters, and these licenses are able to connect to the physical and virtual editions of the appliances.

Is there a disconnect here?

So it's cool that XenDesktop and XenApp Platinum licenses include client access to the Branch Repeater and Access Gateway products, but it just seems weird that customers have to pay an additional cost for the virtual appliances, especially as Citrix integrates the client capabilities into the universal Citrix Receiver and talks about how important they are.

Is that lame, or do I just need to chillax?

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Quick comment : how many boxes do you need ? It depend from your infrastructure and the architecture you will take. For several customer, it changed from 1 to 10 (1 for SMB and simple infra), 10 to multiple network entry point and some of them with HA...


I found cool to just have to buy to appliance by itself regardless of licence as it is with Access Gateway one...


Now, we can talk about the price of the appliance by itself (which is just hardware as software licence should be incuded) but this is another debate !!!


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You mentioned Riverbed and Expand Networks do a better job than the Branch Repeater, which I can understand from an appliance to appliance deployment scenario. In terms of a SSL VPN software client deployment scenario, how do the two products compare? Are there any drastic differences in performance?


I agree paying for a software version of the appliance is double dipping having been paid for the licenses.


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@Brian I don't get why you think adding a BR on a XD farm would help with other WAN traffic. Isn't that a good reason to charge for it? I see it as a cheap WAN Accelerator for all traffic that I don't need to part ocean's to install. So I think you are kind of missing the point, but yes I would like it for free. I also don't buy the Expand or Riverbed claims as it must be based on reverse engineering. All Citrix needs to do is change the protocol and I would be screwed if I bought into the claim. Until Citrix officially supports such a claim from these guys, I don't buy it.


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