VMware casts Horizon 6 bait to XenApp shops

VMware Horizon 6 includes remote app publishing similar to XenApp, and the company launched an incentive program to seduce Citrix shops over to its side. The grass may not be greener in Palo Alto, however.

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BOSTON -- Now that VMware offers remote published applications, it’s going after Citrix customers. But new incentives may not be enough to get XenApp users to switch.

VMware's new Safe Passage program offers migration tools and pricing discounts to XenApp users that move to Horizon 6. Using a total cost of ownership tool, VMware will evaluate how much a Citrix customer spends on its XenApp environment -- then match that cost if the organization decides to switch and signs a three-year contract for at least 1,500 seats. Administrators can then publish their XenApp apps into Horizon 6 and manage apps and virtual desktops in one environment.

It's going to take more than snazzy licensing to get people to switch.
Greg TiberCitrix admin

VMware presented details of its XenApp migration program during a session at BriForum 2014 here this week and made the process look surprisingly easy. But Citrix and its customers say it's not that simple. The move from XenApp to Horizon also requires networking changes from Citrix's protocol to VMware's PCoIP and Blast.

"The undertaking to do that is huge," said Greg Tiber, a Citrix admin at a financial services firm in the Midwest. "You have to change all your workflows, all your processes."

Safe Passage aims to take advantage of Citrix's recent changes to XenApp, which combined the product with XenDesktop and complicated the process of upgrading to the latest version, XenApp 7.5. It is an adjustment, but  less than it would be in a Citrix-to-VMware migration, Tiber said.

"I can't say it's more work," he said. "It's just learning where things are and how things are referred to."

Citrix also plans to deliver XenApp migration tools later this year to help customers upgrade more easily.

VMware launched Horizon 6 in April, finally bringing a XenApp competitor to market. Horizon 6 doesn't offer  features that aren't available in XenApp, but it gives customers choice and simplifies management for existing View shops, VMware officials said .

A Citrix spokesman said that's not even the case, criticizing Horizon 6 for lacking features around printing and profile and image management.

Even if there were feature parity, that and a cost-neutral migration wouldn't be compelling enough to lure XenApp users unless they're also huge VMware shops, Tiber said.

"It's going to take more than snazzy licensing to get people to switch," he said.

VMware will also offer cost-neutral migrations to customers of other enterprise mobility management vendors who want to move to AirWatch. The goal here is to attract customers who may be rethinking their vendor selection given all the recent consolidation and innovation in the market over the past year and a half, said Erik Frieberg, vice president of end-user computing marketing.

Senior News Director Bridget Botelho contributed to this report.

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