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Citrix XenApp adoption climbs due to Windows 10 migration uptick

Citrix's app virtualization platform sees an increase in customers in the first quarter of this year, thanks to companies adopting Windows 10 and ditching full virtual desktops.

More organizations have adopted Citrix XenApp as they migrate to Windows 10 or push away from VDI.

When a new operating system doesn't support a company's legacy applications, XenApp and other virtualization products can help. Windows 10 migration numbers led XenApp license revenue to increase by 10% year over year in the first quarter, Citrix said on its most recent earnings call. Citrix customers are focusing more on application delivery versus full-blown virtual desktop infrastructure, which also played into the XenApp growth, the company said.

"XenApp is a proven model, so companies have a lot of faith in it," said David Johnson, an analyst at Forrester Research. "It's a particularly good fit to allow employees more flexibility in device choice and apps that aren't compatible for Windows 10."

The market growth of virtual client computing software typically occurs when Microsoft releases a new version of Windows, but Windows 10 migration is driving adoption on an even larger scale. More users are moving to Windows 10 because it is a free upgrade, said Robert Young, a research analyst at IDC.

There are more than 22 million Windows 10 devices running in the enterprise, of the 200 million total Windows 10 upgrades as of January, according to Microsoft. Consumer devices that users are upgrading to Windows 10 then pop up in the workplace, which puts pressure on IT to support it, Young said.

"You have more folks comfortable with Windows 10 ... so they will want that at work," he said. "Businesses have to figure out how to make apps available Day 1, and how to make legacy apps accessible even on a new OS [operating system] that has compatibility issues."

Executives at Tri-Counties Regional Center, a nonprofit organization in Santa Barbara, Calif., use Citrix XenApp to access legacy applications on Windows 10. Still, it would be even better if there was a way to support the company's legacy apps without the help of third-party software, said Dominic Namnath, CIO at the company.

"That's a real dilemma when you need middleware to use your apps on an OS," he said. "Some of these apps are difficult to rebuild, so I understand the need for [app virtualization]."

To combat this issue, Tri-Counties Regional Center replaced some of its legacy applications with custom apps, rather than using the existing XenApp deployment, Namnath said.

Another reason some businesses adopt XenApp after a Windows 10 migration is because it's common to use the end of an OS lifecycle to re-evaluate which virtualization products IT uses, said Phillip Jones, an independent consultant at P2Vme Consulting in Christiansburg, Va. It's an opportunity to ensure that all their tools are up to date, so they can perform multiple upgrades at the same time, he said.

"Companies should always look at and compare what they can do better," he added.

Businesses all-in on apps

Advantages IT finds in app virtualization over desktop virtualization also contributes to the growth of products such as XenApp.

It is easier for IT to manage individual virtualized apps because there is less data to control, and delivering individual apps puts less of a load on the back-end storage and networking systems, said Stephen Monteros, vice president of business development and strategic initiatives at SIGMAnet, a Citrix partner in Ontario, Calif.

"Most people have already decided [to use] app virtualization," he said. "[XenApp's growth] is indicative of this trend, and it's probably just that simple."

As an end user, I don't want IT to give me a full Windows desktop experience on my iPhone or iPad.
Robert Youngresearch analyst at IDC

The trend toward separate app delivery is growing, especially as more end users want to access corporate resources on their mobile devices, Young said.

"As an end user, I don't want IT to give me a full Windows desktop experience on my iPhone or iPad," he said. "I just want the apps that I want ... and still have my native OS experience."

Despite this shift away from full desktop virtualization, IT shops aren't throwing their VDI platforms in the trash. Apps that need to communicate with other apps and the OS, for instance, don't always run correctly when they're isolated, Young said. Plus, organizations with kiosks or terminals are still strong use cases for delivering full virtual desktops, he said.

"Sometimes, you need a full desktop," he added.

Next Steps

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