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Citrix delivers Swiss Army Knife desktop virtualization

Everything rides on 2010

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Without being specific about revenue streams, Dhawan says that the XenDesktop VDI product line has had "thousands of per cent of growth" in the past year, which can only mean it is starting from a truly miniscule number because XenDesktop has not even tickled the top line at Citrix yet.

But the company is optimistic. Dhawan says there are thousands of XenDesktop pilot projects going on right now, and hundreds of former pilots have reached what he characterized as a large-scale deployment, serving up virtual desktops to thousands of users. Citrix has closed one XenDesktop VDI deal for 40,000 seats and another one for 125,000 seats recently.

"A change in desktop computing is coming in 2010," Dhawan says confidently, and part of the reason why Citrix is so confident is Microsoft Windows 7, which will launch on October 22 and will presumably be disrupting IT budgets late this year and all through next year.

The consensus at Citrix is that the company has worked out the kinks and issues with virtual desktops by merging XenDesktop and XenApp, and that by getting XenClient into the field next year, when the Windows upgrade cycle starts, IT managers will ask it to do something different because they'll have the bean counters breathing down their necks to cut costs.

It doesn't hurt that Citrix has more than 230,000 customers using XenApp and its predecessor, Presentation Server, and that these customers are using the code to feed applications to around 100 million end users. By merging XenDesktop and XenApp into XenDesktop, Citrix is trying to give those XenApp and Presentation Server customers an upgrade path that also includes a variety of PC virtualization methods as part of the package. There are a lot of seats at stake, and at a few hundred bucks a pop, the addressable market that Citrix is chasing in its own customer base could account for a few tens of billions of dollars in sales.

The upgraded XenDesktop 4 with XenApp 5 integrated comes in three editions. The standard edition, which costs $75 per named user, is for small-scale implementations where all you want to do is serve up desktops over the network using VDI and making use of the HDX tweaks Citrix has created to make use of the local graphics and peripherals in whatever client you use to display the centralized, virtualized PC image running over the network from corporate servers.

XenDesktop 4 enterprise edition, which costs $225 per named user, adds XenApp and the FlexCast features to stream applications in a variety of ways. XenDesktop platinum edition, which costs $350 per named user, adds management and security features as well as a license to WANScaler that formerly known as Branch Repeater, a cache for wide area networking that can significantly boost the performance of virtualized PCs and applications served up from the data center and, more importantly, make the end user experience seem more a local PC than the typical VDI setup does.

Twofer package

To help encourage customers to upgrade from Presentation Server and XenApp to XenDesktop 4, Citrix is giving a two-for-one deal to XenApp shops between now and June 30, 2010. Under that deal, customers with XenApp concurrent seatscan pay $95 to get two XenDesktop 4 named user seats. That is a two-to-one rate of concurrency, which by the way is half the rate for the XenApp and Presentation Server base, which has a four-to-one ratio, according to Dhawan.

Prior to Monday's launch, XenDesktop was based on concurrent users, and depending on the features, the price ranged from $75 to $395 per seat. XenApp 5 costs $350 per concurrent user for advanced edition, $50 for enterprise edition, and $600 for platinum edition.

For companies with lots of named users but relatively small numbers of concurrent users, XenApp 5 will probably be cheaper than the XenDesktop 4 package. But at companies with a two-to-one concurrency rate, it won't make any sense to do anything but buy XenDesktop and maybe start fiddling around with PC virtualization.

This is, of course, the intent of the pricing and packaging announced by Citrix. ®

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