Citrix partners laud desktop virtualization bundle

Citrix hopes bundling XenApp with XenDesktop 4, delivering desktops to more devices and new licensing will drive desktop virtualization sales.

Citrix VARs say the company's new desktop virtualization strategy will boost sales, despite some challenges involving upgrade details.

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This week, Citrix Systems Inc. said it will put a full version of XenApp into the next iteration of XenDesktop (version 4), which has been a separate product up until now. SearchVirtualDesktop.com broke the news last week about Citrix's desktop strategy.

Shannon Snowden, a consultant with Louisville, Ky.-based New Age Technologies Inc., said putting XenApp capabilities into XenDesktop 4 is a natural convergence that customers want.

"[Customer] requirements tell us that they need a combination of desktop and application virtualization," but they don't always expect to have to purchase two separate products to get those technologies, Snowden said. "So, this should make the partner's message a little cleaner, rather than it appearing that we are attempting to up-sell XenApp to XenDesktop clients."

Martin Ingram, vice president of strategy with Citrix technology partner AppSense, said the messaging around the two products has been hard to convey and this move could help.

"I am forever explaining XenDesktop versus XenApp to customers who are confused about the offerings, so this will really simplify things," Ingram said. "These changes will drive adoption by providing clarity for customers that confusion has delayed."

XenApp will continue to be sold separately, and Citrix will continue its technology roadmap for the application virtualization technology.

Existing XenApp customers can use the "Trade-up to XenDesktop 4" program through June 30, 2010, to upgrade their existing XenApp concurrent user licenses for twice the number of XenDesktop 4 user licenses, which Citrix claims is a savings of up to 80% off list price.

For distribution partners, the trade-up program poses an up-sell opportunity for XenApp customers who have a propensity toward desktop virtualization, Citrix said. And since XenDesktop now includes all of the XenApp features, customers in need of new licenses also have an incentive to upgrade.

But Michael Keen, a Citrix partner with Des Moines, Iowa-based Alliance Technologies, has mixed feelings about the changes.

"From a go-to-market perspective, wrapping XenApp into XenDesktop is a great way to do things," Keen said. "But for existing customers of both, figuring out the one-to-one upgrade scenario will be a challenge. And I don't care how cheap it is, I won't sell something to my customers if they don't need it."

Trade-in, trade-up options

Citrix partners were given the following Trade Up Program option details, which were not made public:

  1. All. Customers trade in all current Subscription Advantage (SA) XenApp licenses on a 2-for-1 basis, paying $95/user for Enterprise Edition and $135/user for Platinum.
  2. Select. This is where customers can trade in a portion of their XenApp licenses on a 1:1 basis. Customers will pay $65/user for Enterprise and $100/user for Platinum editions.
  3. Select with expired SA. This gives customers with expired maintenance an opportunity to get in on the 2:1 deal. Customers will pay $115/user for Enterprise and $150/user for Platinum.

But not everyone will fit into this three-option trade-up model, Keen said.

"I know that 90% of companies purchase licenses on 1:1 or 1:2 ratio, but what does that mean for the other 10%? Leaving that 10% on the table opens the door for the 'inventor's dilemma' and will create more complexity than it fixes," Keen said. "For the majority of customers it will be a good thing, but … it's going to cause a lot of unhappy customers in that other 10%."

While changing the licensing from a concurrent to a per-user model won't appeal to all users, the move makes sense for the future of desktop virtualization because it removes the ties between end users and their PCs, Ingram said.

"For desktop virtualization, the only sensible way to license is per user as we start to think about desktops on devices and in clouds," Ingram said. "It is very forward thinking and it makes the most sense."

Citrix partner Francis Poeta, president of Cliffside Park, N.J.-based P & M Computers Inc., said Citrix has opened up significant opportunities by making licensing simpler and combining XenApp with XenDesktop.

"We have a lot of customers who are looking at a combination of both XenApp and XenDesktop, and this is a much better solution for them, Poeta said. "I am anticipating that this will make rolling Citrix out to new customers much easier as well."

Benefits revealed

Barb Goldworm, chief analyst and founder of the Boulder, Colo.-based analyst firm Focus Consulting, said Citrix's new desktop strategy will benefit channel partners who communicate its uses effectively.

"For channel, 2010 will be the year [to sell desktop virtualization]. There is a huge opportunity there, but it will take an understanding of the use cases and the right technologies for those use cases," Goldworm said.

Keen concurred that desktop virtualization requires a certain level of understanding, and he has an issue with Citrix's overall message of "virtual desktops for everyone."

"Desktop virtualization is not server virtualization, and it takes a lot more intelligence to do correctly," he said. "From a partner perspective, we will approach this in our usual diligent manner and work the solution to the customer's needs."

In general, desktop virtualization stores a user's applications and preferences on a centralized device from which they can be served up on a variety of local or personal devices via the network. In theory, that setup minimizes costs because resources can be shared and allocated as needed.

Snowden agreed that the technology is not for everyone. "While the central management interface should simplify configuration operations, novice administrators might be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of configuration options XenApp offers."

XenDesktop 4 will be available November 16 with more than 70 new features. Citrix will also offer sales tools and kits to their 7,500 channel partners, the company said on Monday.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer

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