The (Sad) State of VDI 1.0 in 2016 - get me an exit!
A little bit about me first. I was first VP Product Management for XenDesktop, and later ran the XenApp/XenDesktop business at Citrix from 2009-2011. I left Citrix in 2012, frustrated with the state of VDI. It was both massively complex for IT and delivered a poor experience for end users.
Despite its issues, Citrix has long had a loyal set of customers. They came on board in the late 1990s/early 2000s when ICA and Metaframe helped them solve important business problems (remote access, call centers, etc.).
Those loyal customers stayed for management capabilities as the Presentation Server (now known as XenApp) deployments became larger and more complex. The longer they stayed, however, the more difficult it became to stay loyal.
During the past couple years, the growing challenges of Citrix have prompted many to look elsewhere for a better VDI solution. Since 2012, we've talked with a lot of Citrix customers. Increasingly, we hear that they are exploring "how-to-exit Citrix" strategies. These customers run XenApp and/or XenDesktop today. They include both small- (hundreds of users) and large- (tens of thousands of users) deployments. In response, we launched a VDI 2.0 solution to solve some of the most challenging problems with VDI 1.0.
Why Customers are Exploring "Exit-Citrix" Strategies
We've watched this evolution. (We saw it coming from a mile away.) Here are reasons we've heard so far:
I am paying too much money to Citrix in maintenance renewals. Is my deployment large or complex enough to need Citrix? Or can I leverage the Windows Server tools I already have to manage RDS? Is ICA/HDX still worth the extra money? Or is RDP8 good enough?
2. Citrix is getting more complex!
XenApp was hard. But my XenDesktop implementation is way too complex and peppered with single points of failure. I have Windows Servers, SQL servers, Desktop Controllers, Provisioning Servers, Storefronts, Load Balancers, and more to deploy. I have to deploy all these components in high-availability mode. I am running 1000+ servers for 40,000 users. And things keep breaking down. Imagining updating a 1000 servers! One missed patch or mismatched broker - VDA version results in a service outage. But the business units need VDI to securely deliver access to applications and data.
3. Cost of Migration from IMA to FMA
I am running XenApp with IMA architecture. Or I have a large XenDesktop 4.x deployment. It will cost me tens or even hundreds of thousands (enterprise) to migrate from IMA to FMA architecture in order to get to the most recent versions of XenApp or XenDesktop 7. Does it make sense to rip and replace...I mean migrate? Or are there other options?
4. Is Citrix's future is in doubt
What is going to happen to Citrix? Will it exist as a stand-alone company? Will they invest in innovation? Do they still care about VDI? Or is it all about XenApp now?
Even though these customers are exploring exit-Citrix strategies, they still need to deliver business critical Windows client-server applications and VDI to their business users.
Alternatives to Citrix
Over and over, we hear that soon-to-be-ex-Citrix customers are considering three possible avenues: 1) DaaS, 2) VMWare Horizon, and 3) Workspot. One of the problems with moving to DaaS is that it's like a box of chocolates - every service is different and you won't know what you're getting until you try it. And Horizon has pros and cons too. Several of the the biggest cons are that they'd be replacing the Citrix tax for the much larger V-Tax, and they'd be trading one complex infrastructure for another.
These customers are talking to us because Workspot offers them a future proof path that solves these problems:
- Reuse and reduce cost. They can leverage both their existing XenApp deployment or a new Terminal Services environment to deliver Windows client-server applications.
- Simplify VDI's operations. They can use a VDI 2.0 architecture to enable VDI. (VDI 2.0 is 10x simpler than VDI 1.0 solutions, such as XenDesktop and Horizon.)
- Futureproof VDI. Workspace is already built into VDI 2.0. With modern applications being written as responsive HTML5 applications or native applications, the world will be moving to a workspace model post VDI 2.0.
So what's your Citrix strategy? Stay or exit? I would love to hear your thoughts about your future strategy. Ping me...