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Workspace Cloud could very well be the future of Citrix, but the company will have to cut the price significantly to get admins on board with using its cloud-based management platform.
The truth is that desktop as a service (DaaS) hasn't taken off, and we don't when or if it will. Although many are curious about DaaS, people can't seem to get past the idea of the desktops themselves living in the cloud. For many IT shops, DaaS doesn't necessarily solve a core problem; it's just a different way to deliver virtual desktops. The challenge many administrators run into isn't actually running the desktops themselves, it's connecting all the moving pieces required to manage them.
Citrix Workspace Cloud (CWC) combines all those management tools into one platform, allowing IT people to simply worry about managing the desktops. Citrix constantly updates the CWC platform, so all customers are always running the most recent version. This helps keep companies from falling behind on Citrix's latest releases. Essentially, CWC customers will always be able to use the company's newest features.
Citrix takes a mulligan on CWC pricing
On the technical side, it's hard to find problems with Workspace Cloud, but as I've said before, Citrix might be at a competitive disadvantage with CWC due to its pricing. Compare the per-user subscription pricing of CWC to Citrix XenDesktop Enterprise edition and you won't be able to help but raise your eyebrows at the difference. Even though Citrix Workspace Cloud is an exceptional product, it costs $304 more per user, per year than its equally functional, on-premises equivalent. Neither price includes the cost of Windows client or hypervisor licenses for desktop hosts.
The justification for this gap is due to the infrastructure required to support CWC, namely costs associated with SQL Azure, Microsoft's cloud database service. Certainly customers should expect to pay a premium to not have to build and host the management infrastructure on their own, but that hardly makes a dent in the large price gap. Even if you assume $3 per user per month ($36/year) is going toward the cloud infrastructure, that still leaves a $268 difference in cost between CWC and XenDesktop Enterprise, or more than $22 per month per user for the rest of the infrastructure.
It's a new market, and Citrix is probably just testing the waters to see what it will bear, but it also leaves a lot of room for competition to undercut Citrix's pricing. With VMware nearing the launch of Project Enzo, which we can loosely describe as a similar product to CWC, Citrix was in danger of an embarrassing pricing overreach. With that in mind, it's easy to understand why at Citrix Summit earlier this month the company announced that it would reduce CWC's price tag.
Citrix didn't announce exactly what those pricing changes will entail, but with so much room to work one can expect to see a significant adjustment. Citrix says it will review the pricing sometime in the first quarter of 2016. I suspect we'll also see some more concrete pricing around VMware's Project Enzo around the same time, if not sooner.
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