Should Citrix just buy BigFix and AppSense and dominate the Windows desktop?

Now that Citrix is going down the XenClient path to provide a client-based platform on which XenDesktop-managed desktops can be run, it can be argued that they're casting a wider net to catch more general desktop users instead of just terminal server desktop users.

Let’s kick off our pre-BriForum weekend with a fun thought exercise:

As Citrix has evolved from a terminal server-based company to an end-to-end desktop virtualization company, they’ve obviously grown their potential market. And now that they’re going down the XenClient path to provide a client-based platform on which XenDesktop-managed desktops can be run, it can be argued that they’re casting a wider net to catch more general desktop users instead of just terminal server desktop users. Carrying that forward you can imagine the Citrix of 2012 or 2013 having tens of millions of “real” XenDesktop users and the customer base segmenting into “traditional” and “virtual desktop/VDI/XenClient/XenDesktop/Citrix-delivered” groups.

So what does Citrix do at that point? Do they continue move/force new customers into XenDesktop, or do they cast an even wider net in an attempt to snipe the traditional desktop customers too? Or can they do both?

It’s clear that while desktop virtualization is continuing to mature, it’s extremely rare to find a customer that’s gone 100% virtual. (Even when “virtual” is the multi-modal terminal server, VDI, locally streamed, and/or client-based VM environments.) But even though most customers have two separate desktop delivery environments, we're finding more and more companies who manage big parts their traditional and virtual desktops as single entities. (Just ask AppSense how many of their customers build a single user environment that spans traditional and virtual desktops.)

So what if Citrix decided that they too wanted to extend their desktop delivery platform to the traditional desktop space? What would that look like? Integration with SCCM? Forcing everyone to use XenClient? Delivering MSI packages with the same ease they deliver App-V packages?

Or do they go for it all and buy a traditional desktop management company?

It's not as far-fetched as you think. Owning a traditional desktop management product could get them into environments where people don't believe in desktop virtualization or where desktop virtualization doesn't work. Owning a tradition desktop management product could help them manage the one-to-one persistent desktops that XenDesktop customers (and soon XenClient customers) love (even though "we" hate them). A traditional desktop management product will allow Citrix XenDesktop customers to manage their Windows desktops. Period. It would add another bullet point to the FlexCast story.

Heck, then Citrix could even buy a real user environment management company and create a complete user and application environment that roams/migrates/flows from the traditional to the virtual desktop. Then customers buying XenDesktop would get everything needed to deliver, secure, and manage the Windows desktops and the applications for every user in the company delivered in any way.

At this point the “migration” would be pretty straightforward, and if Citrix priced it right then no one else could touch them. What would these two purchases cost? Certainly they can work out something for less than they paid for XenSource.

Of course moves like this would surely piss off Microsoft. It would fly in the face of what Microsoft is doing with SCCM. (Although with their announcements of future versions of SCCM being able to deliver many different kinds of apps—virtual and physical—it could be argued that Microsoft is actually moving into Citrix’s territory. The same could be said with Microsoft’s goal for Windows 8 to take VDI to the next level and for things like RemoteFX to be built into the platform.)

Maybe there's point in the not-too-distant future when Citrix doesn't even care if they're competing with Microsoft? Maybe they could even leverage a move like this to wean themselves from Microsoft’s gracious benevolence? Maybe Citrix could ride this approach into the sunset of the Windows client over the next five years while retooling to deliver HTML5 apps from the cloud? Maybe Google is Citrix’s next Microsoft?

All fun thoughts...

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Any device, anyplace, anytime, any app, anyway.

-User based preferences

-Admin based Policies

-Environmental Realities

I would think that true seperation will come not from ONE wiz-bang feature, or technology, but, by having sufficiently enough of ALL of them.

Very thought provoking



The reality is that as more people get it and start to adopt various forms of desktop virtualization, it’s inevitable that people will be in mixed mode environments, which is is in effect going to lead to greater complexity and I bet in most cases a complete mess. So anything that helps them bridge the two worlds is something that is going to be very helpful.

As for vendors. I’d agree that BigFix is 100% compete with Systems Center although IMO a better technology in terms of architecture with real enterprise penetration as a proof point. Something like BigFix to me makes a lot more sense for VMware who could all of a sudden find themselves ahead in the desktop management game which would act as a huge pull for View. I read an analyst report this week that clearly shows XD kicking the crap out of View, and future market projections show Citrix pulling further ahead. So VMware needs to do something to compete. POSoIP is not that game, and they have failed at Type 1 and are now creating marketing BS around Type 2. Management would be something of substance they could get traction on, make customers happy by creating a Systems Center + SA + MDOP MS lock-in alternative for the world. They would also have more credibility with this given that many people trust them with vSphere. So VMware I give the View team a lot of crap for good reason, but here is something you could do to compete and actually get the world to really care about desktop management done right.

Citrix would never touch BigFix as MS would cut of their balls. They can’t even do that much to App-V, and I bet it’s all got to do with bad blood with former Softgrid idiots holding a grudge who know nothing about delivery..... Hence an even greater opportunity for VMware to take advantage of the incompetence of the App-V leadership not building an ecosystem.  

As for Appsense or RES for that matter, I see these guys as a lot more relevant to Citrix. None of these products really compete with Systems Center (really do stuff that MS doesn’t do much of or doesn’t care about), but they do enhance Citrix in many ways. Historically on XenApp, but I can easily see how they are relevant to the desktop as well for many use cases. Now as I type I think what about all those cool layers companies, Unidesk, Wanova, Moka 5 etc. Well I see them as very promising, but many years out for any sort of mass adoption and still need to burn it and evolve. The BigFix, Appsense, RES etc are real and used today, but need to evolve for a virtual and physical mixed world.

Curious to hear how people are using Appsense and RES with desktop virtualization. Which features matter the most, surely it’s more than profiles. BigFix I know for sure with their Fixlet engine is very powerful to manage a ton of stuff very efficiently at scale, although they do have console issues.

As for MS, I think they are becoming less relevant. Their desktop is worth less, why the F is anybody going to upgrade to Windows 8? Their management tools are never advanced enough for complex use cases, and Systems Center is a pig to manage at scale. So MS needs to wake up and let other’s build their ecosystem. They sort of allow that as long as the partner does not F with anything core, but that’s why we need people like VMware to balance things out. Citrix needs to think what outside of HDX in the desktop space is their value? If their only value moving forward is going to be HDX and MS is keep going to make their basic VDI plus RDP better and push System Center everywhere, Citrix will not remain relevant in say 5 years, or at the very least become less relevant. Hey even PCSoIP may be good enough in 5 years after they stop with that UDP crap for everything.

So the way I see it is, that Citrix needs to do more with desktop virtualization management and that means reaching out to the regular PC to help build a bridge to virtualization. It can be easily done with Systems Center plus additions, I get it, Citrix needs to blow MS to stay alive. Regardless, it would be a very smart move Citrix. I hope somebody smart at Citrix is thinking about this. Unfortunately Citrix continue to struggle just to get their basic product to work. AKA the Citrix VDA sucks, worst quality software product ever released that frequently disconnects and is unstable. Whom ever allowed this to ship should be shot, they know nothing about testing or customer requirements. That I am afraid is the problem with the XD team. Such a poor quality product, that all they seem to focus on is tactical fixes coupled with weak product leadership who don’t understand the desktop. I hear nothing from Citrix to solve real world desktop management problems and worry they are not innovating in this area and will continue to play MS *** when in effect there is so much they could do in the Windows desktop space. Talking too much about iPad, Google etc is all BS. Yes these are coming trends, but if you can’t capture the current trend when you are ahead and take it to the next level how do you plan to fund future growth? So Citrix just because the analysts have finally begun to understand that you are the leader due to HDX 3 years late, understand that we “People who use stuff in the real world” understand that management in some mixed world form is the future, so you need to act as does Vmware, else desktop virtualization is creating more complexity and will remain a niche.


Citrix cannot dominate anything - they are too small of a fish in a big pond. Their options are running out - The list of potential buyers is getting smaller and smaller. HP just acquired their own hypervisor so they will definitely not buy Citrix.

Citrix has no prospects surviving as an independent company, and there is just a few big buyers still possible. They may have to settle to sell to someone smaller OR to Microsoft, and in either case that means very little of what Citrix now has would be retained - i.e Xenapp, perhaps Xendesktop. It's no fun to have such a bleak future ahead of you. App Detective's ramblings aside - is there anyone out there who believes Citrix has any real future ahead of itself?


system.fracture so HP acquired Phoenix for 12M, which in effect has been ditched as it was too expensive and got no market traction. GHOST also failed in this space. DeviceVM is flying ahead so HP may just be chasing a market just like they did with RGS right. Show me a successful HP software purchase....... I would hardly call Phoenix a hypervisor it's an instant on OS for some use cases and shows HP may even want to get into the tablet game soon.

You think Citrix won't survive, I'd look at the analyst reports and revenues. I think they tell a very clear story about who's winning the desktop. The MS/Citrix thing is just getting started and I am sure VMware is pretty miserable about their View prospects right now. (hint do something in mgmt to change that)  Now will they be acquired, perhaps, but I would think on strength not weakness. Nobody is going to spend billions of dollars on a weak company if there is no upside. I think it's great if they stay independent, let's them do more across platforms.

Now back to the point of the article, getting into mgmt is highly relevant to win market share.


@appdetective, Based on Citrix's past absolute dominance of the app delivery space isn't it a little surprising that they conceded half of it to Vmware? C'mon, Citrix does not own this space anymore. Point me to an analyst report you keep bringing up that shows Citrix's dominance of Vmware - I do not think it exists. And from the perspective of investors  - what happened to that 500 mil they paid for XS and have not seen any returns yet?

I think Citrix bungled their XS business - they are really behind VMware now, they cannot catch up.

Maybe they could but their hands are tied by Microsoft. XD is all they've got now. But what if desktop OS as we know disappears? Windows desktop OS dominance is certainly fading away. It is not in my opinion business you should bank your future on.


System.fracture, I would not quote a fake report.... There are several reports that are useful that tell a pretty consistent story if you have access. Burton group have a report called server hosted virtual desktop profile. Now in order to respect Brian’s site and the writers of these reports who charge a fee, I am not going to copy and paste content but will point out a few things. The Burton report does a good job of pointing out gaps in View and the kind of SMALL use cases that it can be applied to today. There is also a recent Gartner report on server virtualization that put’s VMWare in the leader quadrant, MS in the top left and Citrix as the sole vendor in the visionary category. Clear who the three leaders are in server virt with Vmware the clear leader currently. BTW they failed to deliver a client hypervisor. Must be TOO HARD for the leader.....

Your comment about Xen is just rhetoric. The fact is Xen is growing in relevance and I think the Rackspace announcement at Synergy with XenSource was significant. Also if 50% of XD deployment (Citrix stat granted) then something is happening. Xen is also not just Citrix. HP just bought a Xen based solution right! Oracle VM is based on Xen, etc. That said I agree that the execution of XenServer has been slow, however don’t forget that XenClient and XenServer are now tied at the hip I guess. VMware are trying to lock the world into vSphere and charge $$. I want to cut the amount of ESX in my company by looking at hyper-V and Xen.

What else does Paul Martini know how to do. Build platforms, get developers lock people in. That’s the MS way. Nothing wrong with it, I admire his courage to take on MS, but it is lock-in,  and the economics of the cloud will make charging for vSphere very tough. No one person or vendor will own the cloud, it’s a flawed strategy that is unattractive to enterprise IT. I mean vSphere + AppEngine equals the worst possible login to a vendor forever in the cloud. There is also a desktop report out this week from Goldman Sachs where they adjust their estimates on desktop virtualization and it’s clear from that, that XD is winning vs. View. Your comment about conceding half the app delivery space to VMWare is just not accurate. It’s pretty obvious that Citrix owns that space, XA does not really have a competitor. It’s true that VMware according to the reports had 50% of the desktop share (a tiny market), but it’s gone down as nobody can really implement View at scale. Those are the independent facts, and technically it’s obvious why.

Yeah right doom gloom desktop OS is dead so is MS and so is Citrix. All VMware brainwashing. For sure it will become less relevant and new things will emerge. That does not mean MS or any other vendor can’t take advantage of that, and they are talking about the same thing. Vmware needs to produce substance. They are all marketing. All they are good at is ESX, and they deserve to be the leader today even if others are catching them fast. They have accomplished nothing on the desktop (it doesn’t work) and the cloud BS is all hype fed to Wall street (really well mind  you) that has the Vmware stock price up up up, I love that since I’m sucking money out of it as idiots follow hype. More hype on Vmware and Clould please, I can make a killing with options and equity :-)

Oh and feel free to share any data that you have from credible sources that support your claim that Citrix can’t catch VMware. Remember this is a desktop blog not a server virt blog, so if it’s on topic even better.


Hey guys, great discussion/debate. There's  a lot of ground touched here and several of the arguments made do IMO merit their own article. Brian & Gabe you have a lot of material for future posts :)

For my own part 'm not so much into todays VDI as I do not yet see any of them as mature enough to pose any real threat to the old-skool PC dominance in todays corporate world. Also I do not see anything to substancially change over the next 5 years or so. The Desktop is a hard nut to crack.

Anyway, I have a question: How do you guys see Remote FX as an enabler for the next gen VDI adoption? What is your idea of mayor show stoppers in todays arena?

Appreciated /kimmo


That move will not be relevant.  All System management vendors are losing existing business and market share to SCCM.  Sure technically it makes sense for Citrix or VMware to do buy Bigfix.  But why buy a solution to compete with MS in  a crowded market.

Appsense on the other hand still has value.  If they don't get snapped up quickly MS will catch up enough and it will be all over.  On another note Citrix and Vmware have tools to stream profiles that work well enough.  Appsense environment manager is cool but who knows how long they will have the lead.


Forgot to mention once MS buys 1e Bigfix and all the other system management vendors are way behind.


I just wait to read about the title:  "Should Microsoft just buy RES (PowerFuse) and dominate the Windows desktop?"

Propose a Citrix desktop without the features off Microsoft Server 2008 ;-)


In response to system.fracture's claims that Citrix has a dim future, Sarah Friar at Goldman Sachs recently published some research and, contrary perhaps to Burton, she would be only too happy to share it, I'm sure:

VDI Market value:

$332m this year

$785m next year

$1.9bn by 2013

Market share:

42% Citrix in 2009

51% VMware in 2009

50% Citrix in 2013

39% VMware in 2013

Most analysis of this market says the same thing - Citrix on the desktop, VMware in the data-centre. That seems to be the overall trend of things to come. I think Citrix would be ok with that setup too - despite the huge spend on XenSource. As someone else on this site once said, that $500m made sure they always got mentioned in the same sentence as VMware as a leader in the virtualisation space.


Looks like none of the desktop virtualization vendors got to the table quick enough.  BigFix announced today that they are being acquired by IBM.