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Exposure Reduction Dept.

Citrix got a nice little boost recently in its battle to retain mindshare against VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V when it unveiled XenDesktop 4, a new VDI product that Citrix claims is unsurpassed in its functionality and ROI potential. That claim is why I lined up a VDI Point-Counterpoint feature between Citrix and VMware that will appear in the upcoming December-January issue of our magazine.

Anyway, things were going along nicely following the announcement until the pleasant buzz of success came to an abrupt halt when three different segments of Citrix customers registered complaints related to XenDesktop 4 licensing and packaging requirements.

In his personal blog of October 20, Sumit Dhawan vice president for Citrix XenDesktop, decided to man-up on the issue, and after briefly noting that XenDesktop 4 was still boffo, he laid out the bad news: the results of survey data and one-on-one conversations had made it evident that "we missed a few important things" on the licensing and packaging front during the initial product announcement.

According to Dhawan's blog, some customers required additional flexibility to license virtual desktops based on devices, rather than users. Other customers new to desktop automation said they needed a simple "VDI-only" solution with more flexible licensing to make the transition easier as they ramp up. The third group to complain were K-12 and university customers who wanted a simpler, more cost-effective program customized for the unique needs of the educational market.

So what did Citrix think about these criticisms? "The short answer is 'We agree,'" Dhawan declares. "Your feedback has been invaluable in helping us make sure XenDesktop 4 enables the broadest set of virtual desktop scenarios possible. As a result, we've decided to make three important enhancements to XenDesktop 4."

Those enhancements include a new device-based licensing option, a new VDI edition available in both user/device and CCU licensing, and a new campus-wide licensing program for customers in the education industry.

So what are we to make of this embarrassing scenario? Here's my take: Citrix erred by not fully understanding the needs of its customers, realized that the best business decision was to admit the mistake, and went about fixing it. They came out of the situation looking better than worse, and they probably locked in some new customers who would have otherwise gone elsewhere.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 10/22/2009 at 12:48 PM


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