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Citrix Pulls the Plug on XenClient

The VDI product never took off in the enterprise.

XenClient has been taken off of life support by Citrix.

In a short, muddled announcement, Citrix said that XenClient has "officially started into the End-of-Life process." The last day that it will be for sale is next week -- Oct. 1 -- with End-of-Maintenance scheduled just a few months later, on Dec. 12, 2015. End-of-Life is a year later, Dec. 12, 2016.

XenClient is a Type 1, or bare-metal, hypervisor based on the Xen hypervisor. Citrix envisioned it as a part of its XenDesktop virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) family, enabling corporate laptop users to have on- and offline access to different operating systems and apps over slow, intermittent or absent Internet connections. Included as part of Xen Desktop Enterprise and Platinum Editions, XenClient never stood out in the market and failed to gain traction.

'Realigning Priorities'
"… the decision was made to retire XenClient Enterprise … based on realignment of Citrix priorities and resources towards technologies and projects that more directly contribute to the growth of XenApp and XenDesktop," the statement said. In what could be viewed as a reflection of how little attention Citrix had given to XenClient over the years, the brief, four-paragraph statement itself is full of grammatical errors.

Citrix noted that the decommissioning of XenClient won't in any way affect XenDesktop, which continues to be a popular VDI choice. It remains in its place as the market leader, followed by VMware Horizon; those are the only major players in VDI at present.

5-Year Lifespan
The first version of XenClient, 1.0, was released five years ago this month. Reviewers have had good things to say about the product itself, while questioning its ultimate usefulness in a corporate environment. Jo Harder of The Virtualization Practice said that "The reality of running two operating systems at once and having three total was still pretty cool. But more importantly, I struggled to find a business case where XenClient was a necessary or even good technical solution."

Gabe Knuth, a site editor for BrianMadden.com, had similar feelings: "Good product? Yes. Lots of use cases? No." Knuth also wrote about some ominous signs for XenClient earlier this year, when XenClient product manager Pete Downing was laid off as one of the 700 employees Citrix let go. He also noted that XenClient was hardly ever updated anymore.

Just the Latest Victim
The demise of XenClient follows a recent pattern for Citrix of paring down its offerings. Earlier this year, it also killed off VDI-in-a-Box, its turnkey offering for smaller environments. At the time, outgoing CEO Mark Templeton explained the new direction: "We're looking to have fewer brands, where we get more wood behind fewer arrows; and that means turning some products into features and the elimination of some, especially smaller volume, products."

One of the most important new directions is Citrix Workspace Cloud, which will leverage both XenDesktop and XenApp, its application virtualization product, as Software-as-a-Service offerings across private, public and hybrid clouds.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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