Isn’t competition awesome? Nobody will argue that Citrix hasn’t been a little lackadaisical in the XenApp department over the past few years. The reason, probably above all else, is that they had no reason to do anything game changing since they were the only players in the game. (Kind of like how the Madden NFL franchise from EA Sports hasn’t done anything since EA bought the exclusive license to make NFL games.)
Last week I wrote an article speculating that the announcement of an RDSH solution from VMware meant nothing good for Citrix, and now that VMware has spoken publicly about Horizon 6, I wanted to explore just what that means to Citrix and Citrix customers. Specifically, what are VMware and Citrix up against when trying to acquire new customers or retain their old ones, respectively?
While it may seem earth shattering at first, VMware’s inclusion of RDSH capabilities into Horizon 6 really only serves to catch up to Citrix. They haven’t done anything that we can’t already do, so it’s not like there will be a huge number of Citrix-only shops jumping ship. New customers that have no experience with either company will have a decision to make, but the bulk of the money in this space comes from renewals, not from new customers, so they don’t really factor into the dicussion either.
The way I see it now, there are two situations, those that have XenApp 6.5 and are happy with it, and those that aren’t happy with XenApp 6.5 but are unsure of what their next step is.
For VMware, convincing those customers that are happy with XenApp 6.5 is going to be a major challenge. Last week I talked about mixed environments that leveraged View for VDI and XenApp for RDSH as being a slam dunk to move to VMware, and that thought still remains. It’s the low-hanging fruit, and if VMware can’t capitalize on that it would be downright embarrassing.
The real battle will be convincing XenApp 6.5 customers that are happy to jump ship, to abandon the infrastructure they’ve become experts in and the protocol they’ve designed their endpoints and network around. Those customers won’t go down without a fight, though VMware did make it ridiculously easy for any XenApp shop to dip their toes into the water by adding the ability to run Horizon 6 on a XenApp server. They will surely win some deals just because some IT people were curious one Friday afternoon.
The front of this new war will be fought over customers who are currently on XenApp 6.5 that want more than what it offers. Perhaps they want VDI on the same management architecture rather than maintaining both FMA and IMA, but are unwilling to move to XenApp 7.5 because of the feature gap. Perhaps they’re pissed off at Citrix because of the whole “XenApp is gone. No wait, it’s back, but it’s different.” thing (understandably so). No matter the reason, if a customer is looking at a forklift migration from one platform to another, they’re up for grabs by either Citrix or VMware.
Of these three situations, the View/XenApp shops will just sort of migrate like a moth to a flame, so no real work needs to be done there. It might be slow as they make sure the features are what they need, but it will happen. VMware needs to focus its energy on the customers faced with migrating from XenApp 6.5 one way or another. They’re the impressionable group that is already sort of resentful of the fact that they even have to do a migration. Stealing happy customers away from Citrix can wait until another day.
Citrix, on the other hand, should be focusing on the same group. Nobody wants to do a forklift migration to a lesser platform, so Citrix needs to be trying their damndest to make XenApp 7.5 a veritable twin of 6.5 on the list of features, not to mention somehow making the migration process from one to the other easier. Frankly, they should have done this years ago, but since there was no competition there was never any reason. There is now a fire under their chair, and a very short period of time to do anything about it before customers start looking elsewhere.