Citrix revises XenApp EOL, IT advised to upgrade quickly

Citrix has revised XenApp’s EOL status and extended support, but users must upgrade soon to avoid exorbitant extended support costs.

Citrix has extended the XenApp product lifecycle to align it with the lifecycles of corresponding Microsoft server platforms. But IT pros are advised to upgrade quickly to avoid extended support costs that could add up to about €200,000 per year for some large enterprises.

After IT pros expressed concerns over Citrix Systems Inc.’s decision to move all versions of XenApp before version 6.5 to end of life (EOL) status by July 2013, Citrix lengthened the XenApp lifecycle through a technical support offering called the Extended Support Program.

Citrix has extended the support phases for XenApp v4.5 and v5 until 2015. It has also given XenApp 6.0 a minimum four-and-a-half-year lifecycle to help users who recently migrated to v6.

The support programme puts IT pros in control of their upgrade strategy with technical support and maintenance after the End of Maintenance milestone, Citrix said.

To get support after XenApp EOL, IT pros must enter the extended support programme contract with Citrix, which costs IT a lot of money, said Shawn Bass, an independent consultant based in Chicago, in his blog post.

“People should make their migration plans as soon as possible, regardless of the extension,” Bass said.

While Citrix did not disclose how much the extended support programme costs, a Citrix spokesperson said that itworks with its customers on an individual basis to understand and address their needs for extended support.

But one large enterprise in Europe with 2,500 XenApp platinum seats was given an approximate quote of €100,000 per six months ($121,000 or £78,310) by its support provider. The contract is specific to the enterprise customer.

“This is mental money!” said Andrew Morgan, a desktop virtualisation expert and a solutions architect at Novosco Ltd., a virtualisation service provider based in Ireland.

Is XenApp extended support worth the price?

Extended support for XenApp version 4.5 and 5 is welcome but it is “incredibly infuriating” that the support will only be made available via the chargeable programme, Morgan said.

“The extended EOL will buy a little extra time on the migration, but doesn’t per se represent an alternative to migrating users,” said Federica Troni, a principal analyst at Gartner Inc, a research firm based in Stamford, Conn.

Admins, especially those that use XenApp 4.5 or 5, should consider upgrading quickly, experts advised. XenApp versions 4.5 and 5 run on Windows Server 2003, which hits EOL status in 2014.

“Server 2003 is nine years old… It looks and feels dated, just like XP,” Morgan said.

Vendors other than Microsoft and Citrix will likely end support for Windows Server 2003 as well, so it’s possible the support extension wouldn’t necessarily help everyone, Troni said.

With Microsoft Windows Server 2012 due out later this year, if IT pros don’t upgrade, it will only further the gap between their current implementation and the latest products with better capability, Morgan added.

IT pros using version 6 should also have an upgrade plan under-way, despite its four-and-a-half-year lifecycle.

“Only the early adopters of XenApp 6 really know how bad it was, before the 100-plus hotfixes,” Morgan said. 

The features of XenApp 6.5 and its role in desktop virtualisation should motivate users to adopt it, experts said.

Planning the upgrade now will also help IT pros familiarise with the product and avoid last-minute rush, Morgan added.

IT should fall back on the chargeable support only if they are stuck with a “show-stopping issue” this time next year, Morgan concluded.

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