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  • Citrix vs SMB (Small and Medium-sized Business)?

    October 24, 2017


    Hi again,

    It’s time for another story, but not a technical story this time around.

    I was actually inspired by recent events at Citrix, and those events being the round of layoffs all over the world. I’m not going to debate that move here, but at least it got me thinking.

    Thinking about the past, present, and future reality. As part of the communication around the layoffs, an “Enterprise” focus was put forward for some products. And there’s no real doubt that the announced unwinding of Octoblu is part of that initiative too.

    However, in recent conferences, Citrix announced a renewed interest in the SMB Market. In itself, a very healthy move. But what does Citrix see in an SMB company/customer? Actually, it depends on where you live really. What in the USA is marked an SMB, is in Europe another story. Those “American SMB” are quite often decent/large sized European companies. And that’s a shame because the real European SMBs are left out.

    Historically, however, a lot of those SMBs have been loyal Citrix customers. I’m talking about the Benelux region in particular, where products like XenApp Fundamentals did fairly well. If not Fundamentals, a shop with 1 or 2 XenApp servers serving remote application access to a bunch of users was more or less standard in many SMB companies.

    “Was” being the key word here. Because even while you can still do it, as Bas van Kaam pointed out in an article last year (, the “new” FMA architecture is mainly geared towards a multi-server setup with controller and workers separated. For scaling that’s a great move, but what if you don’t need that scaling?

    Enter “The Cloud”.

    With the rise of Office 365, SMBs are interested in the cloud. For Office 365, that just makes sense. It has become far too expensive to run Microsoft Exchange locally for a limited number of users. So why not apply the same principle to your Citrix setup? Well, there you go: Enter Citrix Cloud, or XenDesktop/XenApp Essentials. Problem solved, right?

    Or Not?

    Indeed, maybe not all. With the recent announcement of VMware Workspace One, one could start to argue Citrix Cloud is too expensive. But that’s only half of the story. All Citrix Cloud solutions come with a 25 user minimum. At the time of writing, I couldn’t find any information on the existence of such limits with VMware. It’s cheaper per user, I’ll give them that, but as I said, that is not the complete story probably.

    So where does this leave the 10-15 user SMB, long-term Citrix XenApp shop? Upgrade to FMA locally? Pay for users you don’t need in the cloud? Neither option seems a great fit. With Microsoft pushing RDS once again, those long-term Citrix users could be tempted to switch.

    Citrix shouldn’t be surprised the XenApp 6.5 install base is still quite large. Too large for their liking is my personal guess, why otherwise keep pushing the upgrade experience with every 7.x release? EOL for 6.5 is just around the corner remember, that should be reason enough.

    If only…

    Citrix would truly embrace the SMBs once again. They have the technology to do it. They are making Windows 10 VDI possible on Azure, they have the scalable Citrix Cloud platform,…

    It gets even better. Citrix cloud includes the Remote PC feature, a true hidden gem.

    So, as an SMB customer, you could have the complete story, all from Citrix cloud: secure access to business applications from anywhere AND access to corporate desktops at the same time. Application delivery is why most of them chose Citrix in the first place. Add the Remote PC feature to simplify SMB IT life, … In the future, use Azure AD to bind it all together including Office 365.

    So… why is that still a dream today, and the only thing standing in its way of becoming a reality is a license policy that tells otherwise. It’s a shame.

    Thanks for listening

    Bart Jacobs (the views expressed here are mine and not necessarily Webster’s)






    About Bart Jacobs

    Bart Jacobs is a Senior System Engineer/Consultant based in Belgium. He started his career back in 1998. One of the first projects he worked on in those days was Citrix Metaframe 1.8 on Microsoft Windows NT 4 Terminal Server codename "Hydra". Over the years, Citrix technology has always been a major theme in his professional career, resulting in becoming a true technical expert in the matter. In the last few years, he has also become an expert in virtualization technology, with a special interest in a real challenger in this business: Citrix XenServer. Bart has founded his own company BJ IT back in 2007 and is mainly working as a (Citrix) consultant now. In 2019, Bart received his Citrix CTA award.

    View all posts by Bart Jacobs

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