Forget partners. Citrix needs to host their own DaaS to compete with VMware and AWS!

We've been dancing around this issue for a few weeks in various articles on, so today I want to address it head on: Citrix needs to enter the DaaS market with a direct offering to compete against VMware Horizon DaaS, AWS WorkSpaces, and (potentially) Microsoft's Mohoro!

We've been dancing around this issue for a few weeks in various articles on, so today I want to address it head on: Citrix needs to enter the DaaS market with a direct offering to compete against VMware Horizon DaaS, AWS WorkSpaces, and (potentially) Microsoft's Mohoro!

On Monday I wrote about VMware launching their own hosted DaaS offering starting at around $35 per user per month. (That article, by the way, set the record for the most page views on the first day, with over 8,000 views and 450 social shares 24 hours after posting it.)

Last Friday I wondered whether Citrix was suffering for not having a true multi-tenant offering for cloud providers, and yesterday I wrote about Citrix's woes around trying to get customers to migrate to XenApp 7.5 from XenApp 6.5 and earlier. (An article which itself got over 3,000 page views and 70 social shares in the first 24 hours, well above our average.)

For today's story, I want to focus on a comment AppDetective posted on the VMware DaaS article, quoting (in part): 

No doubt in my mind Citrix will have to bring out a cloud version to counter this [VMware Horizon DaaS]. They can't afford to lose mindshare or be a MS puppet. The Citrix plan to enable service providers is not going to work long term. Whomever controls solutions end to end is much better positioned to squeeze out margins. . . . Good for VMware getting there first, I continue to enjoy watching them b-slap Citrix who are asleep at the wheel. Not sure how much the CEO limbo situation is holding them back.

Help4Ctx wrote:

I think the 'Cloud computing company that enables mobile workstyles' needs to invest a a lot more in Cloud and give us a little more faith that they are serious about this stuff. Try plugging Cloud Platform, Cloud Portal and App Orchestration together and see how serious you think these guys are about providing a cohesive end to end solution.

I'm sure XenApp/XenDesktop 7.5 will fix all of this though. We now have one console for XA/XD, but Cloud enabling this little lot still involves the addition of at least eleventy-two more consoles !!

Does Citrix have what it takes to directly offer DaaS to customers?

A few people have commented that Citrix doesn't have the experience to run their own massive cloud. Maybe that's true, though someone else wrote (or Tweeted? I can't find it now) that Citrix already operates a $1B+ cloud business with the Citrix Online (GoToMeeting, etc.) services, so clearly they have some experience running this type of environment. They could also buy an existing cloud hosting provider to jumpstart their entry into the space.

The bigger question is whether they have the willpower to do it. AppDetective's question about whether their CEO limbo situation is holding them back is a good point. Citrix becoming a cloud provider is a huge change for them, and I don't know if it's something Mark Templeton could do as a lame duck CEO. ("Hey guys, we're totally changing everything here... Okay good luck! I'm out!")

Can Citrix afford not to get into the cloud hosting business?

In the desktop space, AWS is already perceived as a juggernaut in the DaaS industry and they haven't even launched their product yet! And VMware's vCHS offering is great. People love the way it seamlessly integrates with existing on-premises vCenter environments. So VMware is rapidly becoming a juggernaut too. And if Microsoft launches Mohoro, they'll be in the juggernaut category too.

So where's this leave Citrix? They're just a software company making DaaS solutions for others? Seriously? (Obviously everything here also applies to more general IaaS and PaaS offerings, which Citrix could offer too. Or maybe that means they would compete too much with Microsoft with Azure?)

The trust that comes with a Citrix-delivered DaaS solution

One of the things that Gabe and I talk about in our book about DaaS (you've read it, right? :) is that it's a challenge to pick a provider you trust, both from a security standpoint and from a "they won't go out of business" standpoint. One of the realities is that bigger companies are easier to trust and they have the economies of scale to offer the cheapest prices. Right now VMware and AWS have that going for them. That old adage about "No one ever got fired for buying IBM" applies here, too. I can't imagine anyone going wrong if they choose VMware or AWS for their DaaS.

But what if you want to buy DaaS running on a Citrix-based platform? If you ask, "Who do you recommend for DaaS?" Citrix will point you to a CSP reference website that literally has more than 2600 providers, 2580 of which you've never heard of. It's a "paradox of choice" situation. You look at that website for awhile before thinking, "Yeah screw this, I'm just buying from VMware."

Actually, it isn't even that easy to find the list of Citrix DaaS providers. Consider the following Google searches and their first hits:

[vmware daas] ->

[amazon daas] ->

[citrix daas] ->

The VMware and AWS sites have links to videos and to sign up right there on the spot. But the Citrix site? It's about why partners should choose Citrix's DaaS platform to host their cloud offerings. But what if I'm a customer who just wants to buy DaaS? I click "Start Now"... No, wait, that page is about how to become a partner to host DaaS. Okay, so I go back a page and scroll down... keep scrolling. Ah! There it is. "Are you a customer looking for hosted services? Find a service provider in the Citrix partner locator by selecting the hosting provider tab."

So I click that link and now have to click the "Hosting Provider" tab. And.. what? I have to know the partner name to search for? Eh, how about if I just click "search?" No, that doesn't work. Okay, apparently I have to select my country. Fine. Select "USA." Now I want to find DaaS partners, so I click the "Partner Type" and the only option there is "Citrix Service Provider." Okay, so that's not helpful at all. Whatever, I'll just click "Search," and... Whoa! 719 found.

What the hell am I supposed to do now? Start with the first one and just start calling them one-by-one to see if they offer DaaS?

Yeah, you know what I'm actually going to do? I'm going to try out VMware or AWS!

Citrix needs to wake up. This partner thing has a lot of advantages, but every day that passes where Citrix isn't hosting this stuff directly is a day that VMware and AWS get more customers. So what's their move?

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My take is that they should not offer a DaaS service and instead offer AaaS (applications as a service). This has always been their core competency and they should leverage their own architectures to provide a robust subscription model. Many analyst believed they were heading in this direction with receiver years ago for companies' internal/external use.


To be a leader in DaaS you must have a good IaaS story, because desktops need to reside close to the servers and data. I don't think that Citrix, on their own, have enough resources to have such an IaaS position.


To be fair, I think Citrix has some great Cloud products which could underpin a serious IaaS/DaaS offering and although as I mention, they are not currently very 'cohesive' I'm sure that the competition has similar issues.

Bolting together a DaaS Cloud is not going to be simple and I think my previous comments are a little naïve, intimating that the software underpinning this should be plug-and-play. I do however, believe that Citrix needs to pull all of the ends of their various products, CloudPlatform, CloudPortal, CloudBridge, App Orchestration and the Cloud aware capabilities of XenApp/XenDesktop 7.5 together to make this a more compelling story.  

I guess it's all about investment, do Citrix really want to compete here, or just provide a toolset and generic pluggability?  I think that could be a risky strategy!!

As SillyRabbit points out, maybe Citrix are not best placed to run with DaaS, their real forte is app delivery after all!


I would agree with Dan's comment. The investment case to build out the infrastructure needed to stand up a worthwhile solution could be a show stopper in itself.  Stranger things have happened though (ie. Dazzle) but they do need to at a minimum clean up that list of partners and push a solution that gives them a real story to tell.


I don’t think they should forget partners. Partners are Citrix quickest & best way to compete.

To accelerate adoption they could go a little further with the product design and integration with other 3rd party technology. Not just the Citrix stack.


There is a lot more complexity to the solution than just the technology or the infrastructure to run  DaaS:

- Who manages the desktop image? Service provider or customer?

- Who provisions/de-provisions applications? Service provider or customer?

- Who is Level 1 support? Service provider or customer?

- Who tests updates before rolling them out? Service provider or customer?

The math breaks down if the customer has out-sourced the infrastructure to run the desktops, but still needs to support the users/manage the image/etc.

For the very large customers, they want to treat the entire desktop infrastructure, team and support staff as a service. In the past they have done it by outsourcing their physical desktops to EDS or Wipro. If these desktops were to be delivered as a service, then its not sufficient to just run the desktops, they have to be supported and managed. I can't see Citrix or VMware doing that. So the best folks to run DaaS for large companies are Wipro/Infosys etc. And they will use software from Citrix or VMware to do it.

For small customers (<250 users) why not just go BYO/SaaS?

The key customer segment is medium sized customers and what they want - just infrastructure or infrastructure + associated services.


I'm getting pretty bored of all these DaaS articles now Brian. They all carry the same message which you are clearly keen to push.

Time to turn the record over, I'm going back to sleep.....


I think the VMware & AWS DaaS offerings are really nothing more than marketing efforts at this point.

They're fine for giving the technology a test drive to wrap your head around the concept of DaaS but to deliver a real solution that provides real business value, there is a LOT of additional work needed to support the solution. If you combine that w/the reality that there aren't many people/service providers out there that know how to support that effort and you have a recipe for disaster.

To me this marketing/hype is a blessing and a curse for folks in the DaaS space. It's a blessing in that more people will become aware of DaaS as an option which means less educating potential clients.

The curse is that that most of the companies that will seriously explore these current DaaS offerings are going to have deployments that basically suck and that may kill the market before it's able to develop as result of negative PR.

Have you looked at AWS? Not printer redirection, it's slow, no management tools – the list goes on and it’s a bit of a joke IMO.

The good news for Citrix is I think they get that DaaS isn't some commodity play where you can offer a $35 desktop and expect it to work/the client to be happy. They also get that the amount of effort required to get a ‘good result’ is going to require qualified/experienced partners to support it. This isn’t the type of solution that lends itself to swiping a credit card and away you go. Marketing folks keep trying to spin it that way but that’s not reality.

I really don’t think Citrix is geared to host their own flavor of DaaS. Even if they had Mark T leading the charge, they’re just not structured to operate that way and that's not where they have competitive advantage. Citrix's advantage is their partners and they need to live or die by them IMO.

A potential option for a Citrix DaaS would be to take the business as usual approach and partner w/MS to build a premium XA/XD offering on top of the rumored Mohoro (more DaaS marketing hype -- woohoo!) and then leverage their large partner base that’s been delivering Citrix solutions for ages to support it. That model mitigates risk for all parties and likely gets an actual business result for clients.


DaaS is pretty much useles to Enterprises if they cannot bring in their identities and business applications.


should all ISV buid their own Cloud, delivering their own solution as-a-service ? Is this (especially for desktops) a mandatory one ?



As others mentioned there is way more to DaaS than simply be willing to do it.

In Citrix case, with hundreds of partners already doing it wouldn't it be the case of simply, at a first stage, to get a much better search engine going on their own website? I mean:

1. They know how many licenses each of these partners consume on a monthly basis (as they are like SPLA). So they have a pretty good understanding of how big the company is hosting wise (meaning a partner that pays for 100 licenses every month is probably not the best one to handle a 5,000 user quote).

2. Use the information entered in a form (location you are, type of service you need - desktop, app, which vertical market, etc -, size of the hosting you need) and based on #1 return a list of partners. I can bet not all partners host Great Plains, a specific Home Builders app and so on. Most the ones I know specialize on some vertical market.

3. Given #1 and #2 I am sure the results will be extremely narrowed down and only a handful in your location.

4. Return the information with a price list showing ranges (1-10 desktops, $X per user, 11-50, $Y per user, etc).

So resuming: it is dead simple to fix the mess their search engine is what would allow for a much better experience for someone looking into DaaS.

Worth mentioning the prices most of these guys charge is indeed comparable to what Amazon/VMware are offering so I have no clue why everyone is commenting on the economy of scale such mammoths have. The reality shows they are making more money than the small guys and not really giving a better deal.

Also with all the Citrix partners you can actually PRINT and run seamless windows apps with any device what shows Amazon/VMware offerings still have a LOOONG way to go to get out of the 'this-crap-sucks' territory.



I agree with SillyRabbit, Citrix aren't built for DaaS, they would probably have to acquire smaller companies to catch up at this late stage. They should actually split into a networking appliance company and a mobile Apps company (XenMobile/Worx) and sell off XenApp/XenDesktop.


Everyone forgets that DaaS needs huge onboarding teams in order to successfully migrate new customers to a DaaS platform.

We build custom DaaS platforms so this is amplified for us.

Neither Citrix nor VMware have this on-boarding 'infrastructure', so they are going to have to rely on their partners to handle this work, without the often quite complex migrations that need to take place beforehand, DaaS doesn't happen.


IMO, DaaS is a fad and will die a slow death with VDI.  Everyone has commented about:

- Cost per desktop

- Cost for support

- If enterprises will actually use it

Remember the hype around 'cloud' or 'VDI'... where are we now?

End of day SillyRabbit nailed it!  It is all about the applications...

I am Citrix, I am more worried about Amazon AppStream:

DaaS will come and go...



While I agree that long-term apps from the cloud are more interesting than DaaS, I disagree about Amazon AppStream. AppStream is a basis for an Amazon PaaS play, and that's a space Citrix doesn't and will not play in. And while PaaS in general signals the beginning of the end for traditional Windows client/server apps, the long tail of Windows apps will remain a significant factor for a long, long time.


Citrix will get little to no return on an investment in the infrastructure required to host their own DaaS service. They're doing well selling the services needed for their partners to build those environments either for customers, or with customers.

As Guise mentions - the on-boarding of punters is the undoing of DaaS. Desktone found that out pretty quickly when they tried to appeal for their $1 a day desktop: they had better success buiding a scaleable VDI architecture through partners.

Enterprise is where it is at but enterprises have too much baggage - the long tail Windows apps Dan mentions. SMEs can buy services like Office 365 and have mobility what do they want to license (not buy *license*)  *another desktop for?

Every day that passes where Citrix doesn't hose good money into their own DaaS project is a sensible day well spent.


Citrix isnt a stranger to offering their own hosted offerings.  Keep in mind that tbey have the XenMobile cloud edition that is hosted on AWS.  They did this to compete with AirWatch and Other mobile management SaaS offerings.  Should they buikd out their own DaaS offering?   I dont think so.  Its not worth the expense and distraction from their core business.  What are the adoption rates for DaaS now?  I dont think we even can say at this point that it is even going to match the 2% VDI adoption rate in the desktop arena.


The xenmobile offering on AWS was in place before Citrix bought Zenprise. I have serious doubts to the long term plans for that offering as it is looking now, with the "free" offering on Xenmobile, it seems like they are trying to push people back to their own hosting and away from AWS.