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Citrix Workspace Cloud pricing is an opportunity for VMware to pounce

VMware is preparing a cloud-based centralized management product to compete with Citrix Workspace Cloud, and it won't be hard to beat the latter's price.

Citrix's cloud-based management platform Workspace Cloud is intriguing, but it's also surprisingly expensive, leaving the door open for VMware to provide a cheaper alternative with Project Enzo.

I'm sure the two companies would happily tell us the many differences between Citrix Workspace Cloud (CWC) and VMware's Project Enzo, which is still in beta testing and doesn't have a planned release date yet. But let's skip that discussion and call them basically the same product. CWC and Project Enzo are exciting because they provide something IT professionals have wanted for a very long time: centralized management of on-premises and cloud desktop and application workloads.

It's easy to buy into the idea of a cloud management plane available as a fully setup platform, allowing you to skip right to deploying the systems that host desktops and applications. The platform is always running, always up to date, and it isn't vulnerable to in-house mistakes, because Citrix or VMware performs all the maintenance. It's like working on your car versus taking it to the dealership. You can probably do the job just fine, but you know they'll do it better.

Unfortunately, the premium you pay at the car dealership also seems to apply with Citrix Workspace Cloud. That pricing is about $20 per user, per month more than you'd pay for a traditional, on-premises Citrix license.

Citrix Workspace Cloud pricing options

VMware can win over customers just by pricing Project Enzo cheaper than Workspace Cloud.

There are three versions of Workspace Cloud: Virtual Desktops, Virtual Apps and Desktops and Integrated Apps and Data Suite. The first two roughly correspond to Citrix XenDesktop VDI and the XenDesktop Enterprise edition, and the Integrated Suite is most similar to the entire Citrix Workspace Suite, which includes XenDesktop, XenApp, XenMobile, ShareFile and NetScaler.

The most common Citrix license is for XenDesktop Enterprise, so let's compare that license with its corresponding CWC version: Virtual Apps and Desktops.

You can license XenDesktop Enterprise on a per-user or concurrent basis with either perpetual or yearly subscriptions. To match CWC as closely as possible, we'll go with the per-user, yearly subscription pricing, which works out to $116 per user, per year for XenDesktop. On the other hand, CWC Virtual Apps and Desktops costs an astounding $420 per user, per year -- or $304 more than just buying XenDesktop and managing it yourself.

The math doesn't add up

To be fair, Workspace Cloud also costs more on Citrix's end. For example, with XenDesktop you have to provide your own servers to support the platform and networking equipment. With CWC, Citrix does that for you, but does the cost of Citrix providing that support really work out to an extra $304 per user, per year?

If you break it down to monthly costs, XenDesktop Enterprise costs $9.66 per user, per month while CWC costs $35 per user, per month -- more than three times the price. CWC also doesn't include support for desktops as a service, so if you want DaaS you have to shell out another $30 per user, per month.

Something is out of whack.

Citrix Workspace Cloud should cost more than XenDesktop, but not $25 more per user for a comparable service. I don't know what Citrix's additional support costs are for CWC, but I suspect that supporting CWC might cost Citrix $5 more per month, per user than XenDesktop scaled out over all its customers. That's not chump change, but it pales in comparison to the price disparity between the two products.

Regardless of the reason for the huge difference in price, it's there, and it represents an opportunity: VMware can win over customers just by pricing Project Enzo cheaper than Workspace Cloud. Based on these licensing costs, VMware has plenty of room to work with. If Citrix was smart, it would cut the cost of CWC now just to make it harder for VMware to undercut the price.

CWC is the future of Citrix, and the more customers using the platform, the better. Citrix needs to rethink its Workspace Cloud pricing strategy, though, or risk losing potential customers to VMware.

Next Steps

IT pros give Citrix Workspace Cloud a test drive

Project Enzo brings EUC management to the cloud

Citrix and VMware join the converged infrastructure fray

Dig Deeper on Citrix virtual desktops