Virtualization Technology News and Information
VMblog's Expert Interview: Andy Milford of RDPSoft Bucks the Channel Sales Trend in the Citrix/RDS Tools Market

Interview RDPSoft 

Many corporate networks these days follow a hybrid model, meaning some employee workstations are hosted in the cloud (e.g. virtual desktops, DaaS, Remote Desktop Session Hosts / Citrix XenDesktop Hosts) and some are hosted on premises (physical desktops, on-premise virtual desktops, and Remote Desktop Session Hosts / Citrix XenDesktop Hosts).  And because of this, companies need the right tools to monitor and manage such a heterogeneous network.

There's a growing popularity right now for Citrix and Microsoft Remote Desktop Services.  So to find out more about what's happening in this space, I spoke with an industry expert on the subject, Andy Milford, CEO and founder of RDPSoft, who also happens to be a Microsoft MVP in the Enterprise Mobility / Remote Desktop Services area.

VMblog:  What role does RDPSoft play within the virtualization community?  And what niche do you serve?

Andy Milford:  We focus on monitoring and reporting of Citrix and RDS session-based and virtual desktop-based deployments. Our primary product, Remote Desktop Commander, has a broad array of features, such as performance monitoring, license reporting, session recording, active session management, connection quality/latency monitoring, and much more.

VMblog:  There are a significant number of vendors that are already in the monitoring/reporting space.  What makes you different?

Milford:  One thing that surprised us after we entered the market in late 2013 was how channel-driven the Citrix tools market is. My previous software company, Dorian Software, focused on Windows event log management. And while we had reseller partners at Dorian, the vast majority of our sales were direct.

The Citrix/RDS community, and the virtualization community in general, is much more insular, and is channel and consultant driven. Arguably, this has something to do with the complexity of setting up these environments, and for midsize and larger enterprises, they can afford the tools that their consultants and VARs recommend (e.g. just go Citrix Platinum and get Edgesight/Director).

Unfortunately, though, the channel-driven nature of the industry drives up solution pricing, because everybody has to get their cut of margin at each step of the process. Ultimately, this means that many SMB shops that run RDS/Citrix get shut out of the tools market, or have to script together their own limited solutions.

As a result, we're challenging this channel-centric model head on by selling direct to SMBs and Managed Service Providers with a very affordable subscription licensing approach, much in the same way that network management vendors offer month-to-month subscriptions to Managed Service Providers. We do have some resellers in geographic areas where it makes sense to do so, but direct sales will always be a strong component of our sales strategy.

VMblog:  Following up on the discussion around SMB, MSP and affordability, tell us how your solution is priced.

Milford:  While we still offer perpetual licensing options, our most popular licensing program is a month-to-month subscription for only $9 per RDS/Citrix session-based server monitored, and/or $1 per virtual desktop/physical desktop monitored. Our customers can also pick up an annual subscription for $99 per RDS/Citrix session-based server monitored, and $10 per virtual desktop / physical desktop monitored.

The monthly subscription licensing term provides maximum flexibility for the customer. For instance, they may only have a limited time need for our software, such as to do an assessment of client connection quality or bandwidth consumption. Other vendors in this space do not offer monthly subscription licensing, with the only alternative being a still costly "assessment license."
The market rewards companies that offer flexibility and value to their customers. That's what we are trying to do consistently as our solution evolves.

VMblog:  What are some of the trends you've seen recently in the virtualization space?

Milford:  One thing we're seeing more and more of, at least in the academic and SMB markets, is a migration away from Citrix back to basic Microsoft Remote Desktop Services. I've written about this on our blog, and I think the trend will continue, even if Citrix stabilizes its core offerings and improves its quality as a result of its recent management changes. Starting in Windows Server 2012, Remote Desktop Services, including the latest iterations of the Remote Desktop Protocol, are simply "good enough" for almost all but the most extreme use cases. For instance, RDP version 8.0 performs relatively well, even over higher latency, higher loss networks, like 4G, WAN, etc.

Sure, Microsoft is still working out the kinks in RDS in Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2016, but what they now offer "out of the box" is impressive.

When an organization dumps Citrix and recaptures those licensing costs, in many cases they can enhance their approach to BYOD / enterprise mobility by picking up additional management and extension packages produced for RDS by third party vendors, plus have some savings left over.

VMblog:  What are the emerging technologies you find most exciting in the virtualization space?

Milford:  Admittedly, as a Microsoft MVP I'm biased, but I'm blown away at the progress that Microsoft is making in terms of remote application and remote desktop delivery from their Azure public cloud network. They are rapidly iterating their RemoteApp platform, as well as the protocols and clients used to deliver it. It is my fervent hope that these improvements, coupled with cloud computing price reductions, will let us reach a point in the future where application delivery over RemoteApp will rival application delivery over the web in terms of total cost (e.g. development cost, QA costs, and maintenance costs). Maybe that's a pipe dream, but given how balkanized web apps are now in terms of client-side scripting techniques used, development platforms and frameworks, etc, being able to offer the same consistent UI experience, to any device (mobile, desktop, tablet, phablet) excites me.

VMblog:  With these trends and emerging technologies, what's next for RDPSoft?  Where do you go from here?

Milford:  At this point, we want to continue to expand our offering to give our customers an even more complete feature set.  We have some new alerting/remediation, enhanced user activity monitoring, and SLA (session responsiveness) features that will be arriving later this year.  We are also seeking Azure certification to make it seamless to deploy our RDS monitoring tools from the Windows Azure portal.


Once again, a special thanks to Andy Milford, CEO of RDPSoft, for taking time out to speak with VMblog and participate in this expert interview series.

Andy Milford RDPSoft

Andy Milford is the CEO and Founder of RDPSoft, and is a Microsoft MVP in the Enterprise Mobility / Remote Desktop Services area. Prior to starting RDPSoft, Andy was the CEO and Founder of Dorian Software, a log management company acquired by Ipswitch in late 2009. He loves creating easy-to-use yet powerful software solutions for SMBs and emerging enterprise companies.  

Published Tuesday, April 05, 2016 6:33 AM by David Marshall
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