August 20, 2019
Citrix next week will go live with its new cloud-based managed desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) offering. Managed by Citrix and hosted in Microsoft Azure, the new Citrix Managed Desktops (CMD) provides virtual Windows desktop and app environments on any device, offered as monthly subscriptions priced on a per-user basis.
The company first announced the new managed DaaS at its annual Synergy conference in May and on Tuesday revealed the general availability of the service. At the time of the announcement at Citrix Synergy, some partners wondered if the forthcoming DaaS offering might compete with their Citrix desktop and application services.
Carisa Stringer, senior director of product marketing for Citrix’s desktop and applications group, told Channel Futures that partners shouldn’t view the new DaaS service as an attempt by the company to compete with them.
Citrix’s Carisa Stringer
“Obviously, Citrix very much values our partner community,” Stringer said. “At the very basic level, what Citrix Managed Desktops is designed to do is to rapidly provision a very baseline Windows 10 desktop. The minute any additional enhancement or management or applications need to be installed, that’s where it becomes a pristine platform for our partners to be able to leverage.”
Stringer said 34 partners in the U.S. have piloted CMD, which provides a multitenant management interface that lets partners build and provision their services. Application management, user assignment and network optimization using Citrix’s SD-WAN services are among the services partners can add, Stringer said.
More important, she emphasized is the growing demand from customers for DaaS services ad the opportunity that presents.
“In talking to customers, I am hearing that they just don’t want to managed desktops themselves anymore,” she said. “Citrix is only focused at this point on just that basic Windows 10 desktop; anything beyond that is where the partner can come in and add value.”
Citrix said partners can also provide integration with on-premises Active Directory and vertical industry applications.
The new Citrix Managed Desktops is not competitive with Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) service, rather it will work with it, said Stringer. She re-iterated that Citrix, as announced, will offer “day-one” support for WVD, a Windows 10 multisession DaaS option from Microsoft that also runs in Azure.
Addressing a key lingering question, Stringer said both Citrix Service Providers (CSPs) and Citrix Solution Advisors (CSAs) can offer the new DaaS service. It was previously unclear whether CSAs, who typically provide the on-premises Citrix virtual desktop and application offerings, could offer the new managed desktop service. However, Stringer emphasized that the management interface for CMD only supports the DaaS offering, not hybrid implementations.
Citrix also has oriented the service to appeal to potentially new partners or those that want to offer DaaS, but don’t want to provide the infrastructure, or those who may have little expertise in existing Citrix solutions.
“One of the key differences is that it’s a lot easier for people to deploy this,” said Bob O’Donnell, principal analyst with Technalysis. “In the old days, you needed a lot of Citrix experts, and Citrix infrastructure farms and all that good stuff. This is very much of a quickly deployed, little IT support necessary kind of a solution.”
Targeting Small Businesses
While the company noted that enterprises of any size can deploy Citrix’s new managed desktop service, it is emphpasizing the opportunity for …
… small businesses. In the announcement, Citrix showcased the first public implementation, Nocontract.com, a customer with 30 managed desktops. Partners can offer the Citrix Managed Desktops service on a month-by-month basis, or at a 12-month annual term, to any-size business, though there are better discounts for term agreements with a larger number of users.
Also, Stringer noted that a partner must purchase a minimum of 25 subscriptions, which can be split among any number of customers. However, those who sell the 25 subscriptions are only required to hold onto them for one month. In the event the partner sells only a portion of the 25 subscriptions, they can cancel the remaining licenses after that first month.
“It’s not a long-term commitment; there’s flexibility,” she said.
Partners can set their own pricing with the services they provide, but Citrix’s suggested price is $16 per user, per month, and lower, based on volume.
Partners will be compensated based on the first year of a customer subscription. Initially during the pilot, Citrix offered the same pricing for CSPs and CSAs, but Stringer said partners said pricing needs to match the company’s existing models.
“We are adjusting and will be introducing new CSP pricing very soon,” she said. “Partners qualify for Spark and Drive partner compensation for the first year, indifferent of whether customers purchase on a monthly or term basis. So, if a customer buys monthly for 12 months, the partner gets comp for all 12 months, not just the first monthly purchase.”
Because WVD is still in preview, customers and partners can also bring their Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) licenses with them, or buy them from Citrix. Citrix also is selling consumption hours.
“Basically, you could go through and buy the Azure consumption that goes along with supporting it, so in one transaction you will be able to buy everything you need to get up and running,” Stringer said. “But of course, if you’re a partner who resells Microsoft licenses, you can bring your own license. And while we won’t initially provide bring-your-own-Azure, that is probably one of the highest priority road-map items we have.”
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