About five years after Microsoft announced their Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA), and just over two years since most people agreed that Citrix needed one, Citrix finally created a server provider program for companies who provide applications as a service using Citrix technologies. And as much as I want to make smart-alec comments along the lines of “it sure took you long enough!”, the reality is that this is a great program and I’m very excited that Citrix is doing it!
Service provider programs, for those of you who aren’t aware, are software vendor licensing programs for customers that sell software as a service. In most cases it changes the licensing model so that the service provider only pay a small amount per month per user of the service instead of the traditional licensing model where the vendor would have a huge up-front payment of hundreds of dollars per user.
While Microsoft has offered SPLA for years (including Terminal Server CALs), Citrix traditionally hasn’t. So any service provider who wanted to host Windows server-based computing apps had to either (1) use Terminal Server only, (2) use a product that competes with Citrix, like Quest or Ericom, or (3) pay several hundred dollars per customer for traditional licenses and hope that customer didn’t cancel before the service provider recouped their upfront investment.
The Citrix Service Provider (CSP) program should be welcomed with open arms. Joining the CSP is pretty easy:
- You must be “mult-tenant,” which just means that you’ll sell your services to more than one customer / client.
- You must be part of Microsoft’s SPLA program, which makes sense since it’s not logically possible that you’d want to join CSP without MSPLA.
- You need to be in good financial standing with Citrix. (I think this just means that if you don’t pay your monthly bills, they can kick you out.)
- You can’t be a distributor. (Maybe that’s just to protect the resellers and partners by not letting the distributors sell these licenses directly?)
- The CSP multi-tenant environment must be completely separate from any Citrix servers you have that are licensed the traditional way. (In other words, you can’t mix-and-match servers.)
The Citrix Service Provider program has licensing options for XenApp, XenDesktop, and XenServer.
When using the CSP licenses with XenApp or XenDesktop, you pay Citrix a monthly fee for any distinct user who accessed your system the previous month. (In other words, this is per named-user for the month, not based on concurrency like the regular Citrix licenses.)
When Citrix announced this program last week, fellow CTP Joe Shonk asked how it worked for XenDesktop since Microsoft does not include Windows XP/Vista/7 in their SPLA program. Citrix’s Scott Swanburg answered, saying that service providers would have to buy the full normal versions of the Microsoft desktop licenses if they wanted to provide non-TS desktops as a service. (But that they of course could use them with the CSP version of the XenDesktop license.) Given that Windows 2008 R2 will include VDI capabilities, I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft updates the SPLA program to include Windows 7 desktops.
What’s also cool is that the CSP program can also be used for Citrix’s hardware virtualization products—both for XenServer and Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V. In both of these cases you pay for the maximum peak number of VMs that were running at any given time the previous month. (So this is great for cloud-based hosting services.)