Citrix and Quest get serious about Application Compatibility

This week we saw the announcement of two very similar acquisitions.  Quest Software announced on October 24 that they were acquiring ChangeBASE and on October 26 Citrix Systems announced they were acquiring AppDNA.  Both solutions provide application compatibility testing for the Windows platform.

Implementations of Windows 7 on both physical and virtual platforms have been hindered primarily due to concerns about or known issues of application compatibility.  For 10 years, Windows XP was the platform for thousands of applications.  Transitioning to a new platform is nothing less than herculean when the application set is nearly as old as the platform it’s running on.  Even early implementations of Windows Terminal Server (i.e., Citrix MetaFrame) had application compatibility challenges, requiring scripts to make applications behave correctly in the multi-user Windows environment.

This need drove the development of solutions that identified what apps would function on a desired platform.  Microsoft’s application compatibility toolkit was cumbersome to use, lacked automation, and did not provide intuitive and actionable results.  AppDNA, and then ChangeBASE released sets of tools that made the analysis and eventual remediation of applications simpler.

The strength of these tools is that they analyze the DLL’s, executables, registry, and services without having to run through the installation of the application to find out what doesn’t work.  Reading directly from the setup files the product engine reviews these components against conditions and rules for the target platform.  The products are able to identify application components that could or will have issues, providing direction to remediate.

These solutions also provide installation package creation in standard MSI format or from a selection of application virtualization options such as Microsoft’s AppV, Citrix Application Streaming and VMware ThinApp.  Combined with other application packaging management tools or using their own, a user can manage the application package life-cycle.

Even with an apparent market demand, the adoption of these solutions has not been widespread.  From my research there are two reasons behind the slow adoption of these solutions.  The first is price.  Licenses are sold based on the number of applications managed.  Averaging between $250 and $350 per application, companies sometimes could not justify the additional cost when compared to the cost of the man-hours of their existing staff to review the applications manually.  A mid-sized organization with 400 applications could see an additional US $140,000.00 added to their project costs, which would not include the time and effort to remediate applications that the tools could not address.  These tools were also seen as “one-time use” for a single migration project and were not considered part of a more strategic application management solution.  The second most notable reason is that customers were waiting for vendors like Microsoft to provide a native solution; one that they would get with their existing licensing.

Complete Lifecycle Management solutions

These acquisitions by Citrix and Quest add a capability to their core solution sets that provides near end-to-end application and desktop lifecycle management.  Once an organization procures an application; compatibility and compliance testing, remediation, packaging and virtualization, and provisioning (distribution or publishing) to physical or virtual desktops can all be managed in a single location.

The Quest ( ) and Citrix Press Releases ( ) briefly introduce the vision of their new acquisitions.  ChangeBASE, like previous Quest acquisitions, will operate independently and will most likely get a large influx of sales and technical feet on the ground within the next several months.  Citrix has been on a recent buying spree in the application and desktop space with Kavisa, RingCube, and ShareFile . With the acquisition of App-DNA, we are looking forward to a strategic statement by Citrix on how these products will be integrated into the larger Enterprise Desktops and Applications group strategy.

Another AppSense quandary

The AppSense and Citrix partnership has been put to the test recently.  After Citrix’s acquisition of RingCube in August there was much Internet hype of a wilting relationship between the companies.  Although the relationship still appears to be strong, AppSense released last week a free tool that enables user-installed applications to work side-by-side with managed corporate applications, a key feature that is present in the RingCube solution.

AppSense announced a strategic partnership with AppDNA ( ) on October 18.  Being part of the Citrix solution may have AppSense reconsider this co-marketing strategy.

Good for the masses

The move by Citrix and Quest to bring these products into their portfolio is a win-win for everyone.  Citrix customers can probably expect to see AppTitude being bundled into their Platinum licenses, and enterprise Quest customers should be able to add AOK to their licensing agreements. Greater availability and integration with mainstream solutions with license-bundled pricing from vendors that companies trust will certainly accelerate the adoption of these products.