Gabe and I just finished a new version of our server-based computing software roundup. After looking at the feature matrix, it seems like there are a lot of pretty good alternatives to Citrix MetaFrame Presentation Server for a fraction of the cost. This leads to one question: If these other products are so good, then why isn’t anyone using them?
Sure, a lot of people are using pure Terminal Server, but I think the fact of the matter is that in today’s world, Terminal Server just doesn’t have enough out-of-the-box features for most people. I mean I’ve seen some really big pure-TS environments, but those environments are few and far between.
As for the other products, I’ve heard anecdotal stories about customers using them, but it seems to me that the current market is about 90% Citrix, 5% pure Terminal Server, and 5% everybody else combined.
This begs the question, “If these other products are so good, then why aren’t people buying them?” Of course I don’t have a solid answer, but my gut feeling is:
- People have already invested in Citrix.
- People worry about the supportability / longevity of the smaller vendors.
A Current Investment in Citrix
Let’s face it. Citrix owns the Windows server-based computing market. They’ve owned it since it was invented, and they’re going to own it for a long time.
Citrix has done a really good job of converting all their customers to subscription-based licensing. They’ve also done of good job of introducing volume and enterprise licensing programs. This helps bolster the fact that most current Citrix customers simply have too much invested into Citrix to switch to another platform.
Who will support the alternative solutions?
Apart from trying to get their names out there, the second tier vendors have to convince customers that they’ll actually be in business long enough to fulfill their product’s support requirements.
Let’s take Tarantella, for example. My personal opinion is that Tarantella’s Secure Global Desktop, Terminal Server Edition is the most feature rich of the “second tier” server-based computing software products. They offer the most important functionality that Citrix offers at only $60 (compared to $250 - $350 for Citrix). So why is no one buying Tarantella? I think people are worried about the company. Consider this:
- Tarantella’s revenues for their past quarter were less than $3M. Unfortunately, their expenses for that same quarter were $6M. They’re spending twice as much money as they’re making.
- Tarantella is a public company, and their stock price is currently around $1.50 per share and trading on the Pink Sheets market.
- Tarantella recently dropped the price of their main product that competes with Citrix MetaFrame to $60 per user. While this certainly spurred some sales, it also made other companies nervous.
- Tarantella also has some challenges with their brand in the Windows server-based computing space. They're historically known as a spin-off of SCO and as a company that makes UNIX products. They bought New Moon to extend themselves into the Windows space, but unfortunately they chose to kill the New Moon brand (which was far too early in my mind). People still don’t think of “Tarantella” as a competitor to Citrix and they forget that they bought New Moon. (On a side note, people who worked for New Moon are probably really upset that Tarantella bought them.)
So that leaves DAT and Jetro. DAT has never been serious in this space. Their product is very weak, and in fact is has not been upgraded in over a year. Jetro is an Israeli company with a very small US presence. I only know of one small Jetro distributor in the US.
All this leads to Terminal Server. TS is both taking market share from Citrix and creating new markets, however, both of these are small today. I still think that once the Bear Paw stuff comes out that will change the game, but people will still use Citrix in the enterprise space for a long long time.