Today is the first day of Citrix's Synergy Conference and the company has come out with a gaggle of announcements. (As an aside, do announcements come in gaggles, coveys, pods, or packs?) The centerpiece is Citrix's announcement that XenDesktop is now available. Another important announcement is that Citrix now is offering partners a new Desktop Appliance Plus certification.
Citrix is offering five different XenDesktop packages. Here's how the company describes them.
- Express Edition – free desktop virtualization for up to 10 users.
- Standard Edition – offers a cost-effective, but high performance, entry-level desktop virtualization solution suitable for smaller companies and departmental implementations.
- Advanced Edition – adds powerful virtual desktop provisioning capabilities that reduce storage costs and simplify desktop lifecycle management by enabling a single desktop image to dynamically create and update hundreds of virtual desktops on demand.
- Enterprise Edition – adds fully integrated application delivery with XenApp for Virtual Desktops, based on the most proven application virtualization technology in the industry with over 100 million users and 99 percent of the Fortune 500 as customers.
- Platinum Edition – adds extensive optimization, security, monitoring and end user support benefits to create the ultimate desktop experience and best overall product value. This edition also includes the award-winning Citrix EasyCall™ technology, giving users instant click-to-call capability from any application, as well as a built in on-demand remote assistance feature that allows support staff to see exactly what end users see if a problem occurs, chat with them in real time, and even take permission-based control of the end user’s mouse and keyboard to walk them through a problem resolution live.
XenDesktop becomes available for download on March 20, 2008. The software can be found here: http://www.citrix.com/xendesktop. Suggested retail pricing is per concurrent user as follows:
- XenDesktop Express – free download
- XenDesktop Standard – USD $75
- XenDesktop Advanced – USD $195
- XenDesktop Enterprise – USD $295
- XenDesktop Platinum – USD $395
Citrix understands that ease of use and ease of installation is important to many small business, medium businesses and remote branches of larger business. So, it's developed a program, Citrix Ready Desktop Appliance Partner program, to facilitate the creation and suppport of these appliances.
Inaugural members of the Citrix Ready Desktop Appliance Partner program include BOSaNOVA, Chip PC, Computer Lab International, Devon IT, HP, Igel, VXL Itona and Wyse.
Citrix knows that the clock is ticking until Microsoft's Hyper-V blasts its way onto the scene. It is now that it must grab as much market share as it can and provide virtual access, virtual application and virtual processing solutions to those who feel that VMware's products and pricing structure make VMware an unacceptable choice. They also know that other suppliers of Xen technology, including Red Hat, Novell/SUSE and Virtual Iron are targeting those same companies.
This announcement makes it clear that Citrix product strategists understand the competitive environment. They've come up with a clever way to provide a very low cost (read free) entry-level option for its technology while offering several more comprehensive (and more expensive) options. They also have taken steps to make the adoption of this technology easier for those who need a easy-to-install-and-use option.
Due to some quirk of human nature, the low entry price will be what many remember rather than the price of the higher end offerings. This tiered approach will allow Citrix to appear to undercut both VMware's and Microsoft's pricing structure.
Let's see how much ground Citrix can cover before Microsoft's product is ready for shipment and before other Xen-based alternatives make further inroads.