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Citrix Bids Adieu to XenClient

 

It probably won't come as much of a shock to most people in the desktop virtualization industry, but it looks as though Citrix has finally pulled the plug on its Type-1 client hypervisor solution, XenClient. 

Type-1 or bare-metal hypervisors, run directly on the hardware, and operating systems can then run on top of them in separate virtual machines.  One of the key use cases for XenClient was that it promised users a desktop virtualization experience that would work without a network connection (a disconnected or offline VDI instance), which would give VDI a seriously needed boost for enterprise users that travel a lot (work at corporate HQ via connected VDI, unplug, take that VDI session offline and on the road, work, and then later plug back into the VDI mothership at HQ to sync everything back up).  XenClient was also sold as a higher performance option and a much more secure solution.  But even those promising use cases weren't enough to capture XenClient the type of market share it needed to become a relevant solution.

Why?  XenClient also had its own set of problems.  As a Type-1 hypervisor, how do you convince people to wipe their machine of its base OS to install a virtualization layer, providing them a single option of using virtual machines on that system without a base Windows OS like a Type-2 hypervisor would offer.  Beyond that, it also had challenges with hardware.  What hardware could it support?  How fast would developers come out with needed drivers to support newer equipment?  These were challenges that XenClient, and quite frankly ANY Type-1 client hypervisor would face.

As a result, the solution became a niche offering, and the online/offline VDI capability never really materialized in technology like it did in marketing. 

Fast forward to this week, and a Citrix announcement (if you can call it that) about XenClient was made, but only with a slight murmur.  So yes, you more than likely missed it.  In a very brief online communication, Citrix stated that XenClient "has officially started into the End-of-Life process, both as a standalone product and as a technology entitlement of XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum editions."

No worries, I'm sure existing customers of XenClient have time to prepare, right?  So, what is the official time of death for XenClient you ask?  Almost immediately according to the statement.  The effective last day of sale for the product is next week, October 1, 2015.  So if you use it and like it, and your company needs more licenses -- your window of opportunity is closing if you want to buy something that's literally on its way out.  Existing customers will probably also want to know that the End-of-Maintenance window is just around the corner -- it's scheduled for December 12, 2015 and the product's End-of-Life happens just one year later on December 12, 2016.

With regard to XenClient, Citrix stated the decision was made to retire the product because Citrix is realigning its priorities and resources towards technologies and projects that more directly contribute to the growth of XenApp and XenDesktop, especially given the cost and complexity of supporting large combination of hardware platforms.

As part of the company's realignment, Citrix killed off its popular desktop virtualization solution, VDI-in-a-Box earlier this year.  And if you've been following Citrix news, you probably also read about the questions being raised as to whether or not Citrix should sell off the company's "GoTo" and NetScaler product lines. That's where Elliott Management, a hedge fund firm that owns a percentage of Citrix, comes into play with its proposed vision for a new Citrix.

Much to my disappointment, in July of this year, part of that realignment and new vision seems to include a change at the top when Citrix announced that the company’s president and chief executive officer, Mark Templeton, would retire.

Change is in the air.

Published Thursday, September 24, 2015 6:46 AM by David Marshall
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