XenDesktop 4 Too Expensive?

XenDesktop’s initial marketing placement caused confusion, especially amongst existing Citrix customers delivering MetaFrame/Presentation Server/XenApp services. There appeared to need to be a choice between XenDesktop OR XenApp; VDI OR a Presentation Virtualization based solution. In reality, a combination of the two was often the best solution for an organisation’s business model.

XenDesktop 4.0 is offered as a complete desktop virtualization solution that Citrix hopes will address the needs of all users across an enterprise. Yet, for enterprises considering VDI the most significant part of the XenDesktop 4.0 announcement  is not the the inclusion of XenApp functionality – but the fundamental change from a per concurrent user license to a named user license.

The XenDesktop announcement is accompanied with a targeted effort to migrate XenApp customers to this new environment – and he important question is  -is it going to be cheaper for organisations to move to this all encompassing solution?

XenDesktop – VDI enabler

With XenDesktop 4, Citrix are hoping to ensure it does not matter which model you choose to deliver your virtualized desktop – it can all be delivered with a Citrix product – be that XenDesktop – or XenApp.  The option of how you license will depend more on which concurrency choice suits your business. This, Citrix hopes, “will allow you to focus on the the right model to address your business need that fits the right economics and time to market for you”.

Need a solution that best supports high density users and (perhaps even “or”) concurrency rather than named users? Then XenApp is your choice – need a solution that can be licensed per user more cost effectively? Then your choice can be XenDesktop 4.0.

Along with the release of XenDesktop 4, Citrix announced a “Trade-up to XenDesktop 4” Program. The Trade-up Program provides XenApp customers the unique opportunity to add complete desktop virtualization to their proven XenApp implementation and save up to 80% on XenDesktop 4. The program also accommodates organisations that have not kept up their Subscriptions Advantage payments. The license program will be available until June 30, 2010.


The proposed pricing for XenDesktop is as follows:

XenDesktop 4 pricing is scheduled to be:

  • Standard – $75 per named user
  • Enterprise – $225 per named user
  • Platinum – $350 per named user

XenApp licensing on the other hand is:

  • Advanced – $350 per concurrent user
  • Enterprise – $450 per concurrent user
  • Platinum – $600 per concurrent user

Converting XenApp licenses from Enterprise to XenDesktop does appear to make more sense – 2:1 licensing appears good value. Unless you have more devices than users.

Say your organisation has 500 devices and 2000 users :

Old XenDesktop : 500 x $225                            $112,500

New XenDesktop 4.0: 2000 x $225                $450,000

XenApp 500 x $450                                              $225,000

Other licenses are needed operating system for instance that would move these numbers around. Each XenDesktop obviously needs a VECD license, but VECD licenses are licensed by device – not by users. In this example XenDesktop 4.0 does not offer the organisation a cost advantage. Obviously, this is only one example, but it will not be unusual for many organisations.

XenDesktop a Replacement for XenApp?

Remote Desktop Services in Windows 2008 R2 release will be x64 only: the lifespan of x32 Presentation Services environments is coming to an end – all be that in 4-5 years time. While many organisations have found few problems moving to x64, having XenDesktop means that Citrix can maintain XenApp as a platform for  environments where, say high density of users is required, but drive innovation and change through XenDesktop as the XenDesktop focus is on a client OS, which as it runs for a single user – is easier to develop change on.

Citrix state that XenApp will still available on a per-concurrent user basis and Citrix made it clear that they have no plans to end-of-life the product. Yet, with development focused on XenDesktop – will the XenApp product continue to be as innovative as it has been. Its obvious there’ll be a new version in the new year to support Windows 2008 R2, but after that its likely that the concurrent licensed XenApp will slowly move off stage.

Citrix Reducing the Worth of the License Fee?

The XenApp 5.0 FR2 release does introduce some important new features: but none of those features include a concurrent the facility to deliver a desktop OS concurrently. Moreover,  the initial release will not have single instance management units – desktops and presentation server sessions will be managed and maintained separately. XenDestop 4.0 does bring great new features – but how easy is it to manage deploy and maintain these different environments. How much effort is required to manage named user licenses  in an enterprise with thousands of users?

This disjointed management is different from the benefits that Citrix have brought before. A benefit of centralisation is lower costs through reduced administration and management – but you can’t reduce administration with multiple farms and environments.

Four Better, or Worse

XenDesktop’s initial marketing placement caused confusion, the latest release gives a greater flexibility and introduces new innovation. Yet, depending on your environment – this can be at a hefty cost.

Other solutions – such as Quest’s vWorkspace – or Ericomm’s PowerTerm Webconnect allow similar functionality, but on concurrent license model. Despite the raft of new features its XenDesktop’s license model may well make organisations decisions far easier in choosing their virtualized desktop solution.