Citrix Rivals Take Aim: 'Confusion, Price Hikes and Stranded Customers'

Load balancer competitors accuse Citrix of price hikes and abandoning customers with NetScaler licensing changes.

Christine Horton, Contributing Editor

May 13, 2024

5 Min Read
Taking aim at Citrix NetScaler licensing - Yuri A/Shutterstock

Citrix’s rivals are accusing the company of abandoning its NetScaler load balancer customers.

They say that Citrix ending NetScaler perpetual licensing in 2023 has caused “confusion” and, in some cases, “staggering” price increases for customers.

Additionally, some claim that further licensing changes that the company announced in March mean the end of standalone sales of NetScaler products, leaving customers without support.

“Over recent weeks and months, we’ve had a lot of NetScaler customers reach out to us regarding these changes. A lot of them were as confused as the rest of the market and it’s quite hard to pinpoint exactly what’s going on. We’ve had 10 or so in the last month alone,” Joshua Turnbull, head of strategic partnerships at told Channel Futures.

Loadbalancer's Joshua Turnbull

Turnbull said the switch from perpetual to subscription-based licensing has also seen Citrix steering customers to a minimum three-year subscription with payment upfront.

“A lot of customers are pretty shocked when they get their renewal quotes that have often increased by up to 200% compared to last year. It’s a fairly staggering increase,” he said.

Turnbull said one NHS Trust customer in the U.K. saw a 200% increase issued just three weeks before its renewal deadline.

Related:Citrix Joins Tibco in Newly Formed Cloud Software Group

“So essentially, [it has] ... no choice but to renew their contract with Citrix as there wasn’t sufficient time to consider any alternatives,” he said. “There’s a lot of panic.”

Citrix: Customers Responding Positively to NetScaler Licensing Changes

Citrix denies the charge that it’s hiking up prices. Sunit Chauhan, senior director of product management at Citrix, said NetScaler customers can still renew their perpetual licenses at the existing price.

“With the new Citrix subscription licensing, NetScaler pricing has actually gone down while providing our customers with more functionality (application and API security, observability and automation) than before.”

Citrix's Sunit Chauhan

Chauhan also told Channel Futures that Citrix customers have responded positively “to the additional value they are receiving.” By this, he means customers now have access to “an unlimited number of NetScaler instances that can be deployed where their applications are deployed and have the flexibility to allocate application delivery capacity based on business needs.”

In addition, Chauhan said that Citrix hasn’t received any complaints from partners.

“Changes to licensing can be disruptive to our business partners,” he said. “However, we have not received any concerns regarding the new changes. Partners have responded positively to the simplified licensing and the additional value the licenses offer.”

Related:Cloud Software Group Layoffs Hit Citrix, Tibco; Does CEO’s Broadcom DNA Factor In?

Switch to Citrix Platform License

Citrix revealed more changes in March when it announced its vision for 2024 and beyond. Its strategy is now based on its Citrix Platform, with customers only able to buy via the Citrix Platform License — a single license bundle that will include every capability that Citrix offers.

Another load balancer vendor told Channel Futures that the Citrix Platform License forces customers to buy everything — or nothing.

But when Citrix announced the changes, general manager Sridhar Mullapudi said the new licensing model will “eliminate complexity” for customers.

“Previously, you had to navigate a variety of editions and add-ons to get valuable features such as workspace environment management, provisioning or ServiceNow Integration. Likewise, there were countless variations of NetScaler features and capacity to decide on.

“We have eliminated all of that complexity, making all Citrix enterprise-grade capabilities available in two value-driven platform-based offerings that include not just DaaS and VDI, but also the industry-leading capabilities of NetScaler for application delivery and security.”

Chauhan said Citrix's parent company, Cloud Software Group, continues to offer NetScaler software and hardware in multiple forms – MPX, SDX, VPX, CPX – through new licenses “that give customers the flexibility to deploy NetScaler as their business needs evolve.”

He added that customers who buy the Citrix Platform License get access to unlimited NetScaler instances and throughput. Customers who buy the Citrix Universal Hybrid Multi-Cloud License get unlimited instances and up to 1000Gbps of throughput.

Citrix Abandoning Smaller Customers?

However, another accusation being levelled at Citrix – as a whole – is that it seems to be focusing primarily on its larger enterprise customers, with 250 users and above. For NetScaler, this has translated to shelving smaller appliances, with the smallest available option now a 200 MB license.

“We’re seeing a lot of customers also reporting slower response times to both commercial renewals and support inquiries,” said Turnbull.

But Chauhan maintained that “regardless of customer size, our partners have responded positively to our simplified licensing structure and reduced number of SKUs. The simplified licensing provides unlimited instances of NetScaler, eliminating the need for tiered throughput licensing. NetScaler customers with the 200MB license, for example, can still renew their existing licenses.”

A10 Networks Says Citrix Leaving Customers 'Stranded' is still a relatively small player, compared to Citrix. It specializes in health care and medical imaging and has approximately 15,000 deployments across more than 80 countries through channel partner agreements.

But more well-known names also are circling NetScaler customers. A10 Networks, for example, has taken a jab at Citrix on X (formerly Twitter), saying customers have been left “stranded” by the licensing changes.

View post on X

“Feeling stranded by NetScaler? Recent NetScaler licensing changes may require you to purchase more than you need,” it said.

Elsewhere, one NetScaler customer on LinkedIn said Citrix was reportedly advising customers to look to F5 for their load balancing needs.

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About the Author(s)

Christine Horton

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Christine Horton writes about all kinds of technology from a business perspective. Specializing in the IT sales channel, she is a former editor and now regular contributor to leading channel and business publications. She has a particular focus on EMEA for Channel Futures.

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