Citrix Revamps Virtual Desktops

Vendor merges application and desktop virtualization, but at a price

May 20, 2008

4 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Citrix overhauled its XenDesktop software today, revamping its software licensing model in an attempt to lure more users onto desktop virtualization.

The vendor used its Synergy user event to refresh its XenDesktop offerings, introducing a free version of the product, and combining virtual desktops and applications into a single software license.

First up is XenDesktop express edition, a free, stripped-down, version of the vendors software aimed at organizations with up to 10 users and firms that want to “get their feet wet” with virtualization, according to Barry Phillips, general manager of Citrix’s advanced solutions group.

The vendor also rolled its XenApp application virtualization offerings into the enterprise and platinum versions of XenDesktop, which contain features such as desktop image management, and at the high end, performance monitoring.

”We have essentially put a XenApp license and a XenDesktop license together,” says Phillips, explaining that the perpetual licenses, which are available now, give users more bang for their buck. “This adds integrated application delivery via XenApp for virtual desktops.”Previously XenApp was sold as a standalone product priced at $450 and $600 per concurrent user, respectively, for the enterprise and platinum editions of XenDesktop. Now, with XenApp combined, the enterprise edition of XenDesktop will cost $295 per user and the platinum edition will cost $395 per user.

Although this is much cheaper than buying the two products separately, Citrix has quietly hiked up the price for XenDesktop, pushing the enterprise edition up from $175 and the platinum edition up from $275.

This move also pushes Citrix’s pricing way up beyond that of arch-rival VMware, which prices its Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) offering at $150 per concurrent user.

VMware, of course, has its own application virtualization offering thanks to its Thinstall acquisition , which it sells as a standalone product priced at $39 per desktop.

The vendor is currently in the process of re-launching Thinstall’s software as a VMware offering, something which will be completed by the middle of this year, according to Jerry Chen, VMware’s senior director of enterprise desktops.“It’s a little early to be talking about [software] bundles,” he added, but couldn’t resist taking a swipe at Citrix’s new licensing model. “Do all customers need all that functionality, or is the vendor tying to introduce a product that the customer doesn’t really need to increase the overall price point?”

At least one analyst believes that price is certainly uppermost in users’ minds when it comes to desktop virtualization.

“Cost is one of largest barriers to these adoptions,” says Natalie Lambert, senior analyst at Forrester, explaining that desktop virtualization software is just one factor in an increasingly expensive equation. “Between the cost of Microsoft software, servers, NAS, SAN, and upgrading networks, [desktop virtualization] is a costly endeavor.”

The analyst nonetheless feels that Citrix still has something of an edge on VMware, thanks largely to XenDesktop’s ability to use a single Windows image as the basis for multiple unique virtual desktops.

“Because these are dynamic desktops, you’re going to save on storage in the data center,” she says, explaining that VMware will eventually “fight back” with its yet-to-be-launched "Scalable Virtual Image" technology.Citrix, which recently overhauled the pricing on its XenServer product line, also unveiled a raft of software agents today.

These include the Branch Repeater, jointly developed with Microsoft, which caches streamed applications closer to branch offices. This information is then received by another agent, the Desktop Receiver, which runs on a PC or a desktop appliance from the likes of Wyse and Neoware.

A third agent, AppReceiver, was also launched today, which can handle virtual applications “from anywhere”, according to Citrix. “It will pull in all the plug-ins you need,” says Phillips.

All three agents are free. Desktop Receiver and Branch Receiver are available now, with AppReceiver available sometime in the second half of this year.

Citrix is not the only vendor focusing its attention on desktops this week. Atempo, for example, unveiled version 3.2 of its LiveBackup software yesterday, which extends the vendor’s CDP technology to MAC and Linux-based desktops and notebooks.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Atempo Inc.

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • Forrester Research Inc.

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Neoware Systems Inc.

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • Wyse Technology

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights