Why Citrix Systems might Fail

I have been administering Citrix severs for over 16 years.  The first Citrix system I managed was a Winframe server to publish an accounting package for Analytical Surveys Inc. some time around 1995 on a Windows NT 4.0 domain.  Citrix proceeded to be the go to company for remote application deployment.  Ask any Citrix admin what the biggest set back of Citrix has always been and they will all give the same answer: Printing, no doubt about it.

So what did Citrix do to fix these printing issues producing some of the greatest administrative overhead in the history of application deployment?  Almost nothing that made a difference.  They added Universal Print Drivers several years ago, touting them as an end to the printing nightmare.  Since then nothing much has changed.  Big environments tended to move towards third party utilities like Tricerat’s Screw Drivers.  What did Citrix embark on for revenue instead of working on the core problems of it’s primary server components?  They decided to enter the SaaS market and gave us GoToDamnNearAnything.  You know GoToMyPC, GoToAssist, GoToMeeting etc.   Then they decided virtualization was their future and took on competing with VMWare.  When they woke up the Citrix honchos decided they would “compliment” VMWare.  All this while creating enough product name changes to keep veteran Citrix Admins and VAR’s guessing what to buy.  Metaframe became Presentation Server.  Presentation Server became XenApp.  I seem to remember a Novel XenServer and can’t help but wonder where they got such an original branding idea.

So now I’m trying to take a Presentation Server 4.5 farm to XenApp 6.  Nothing is compatible.  Citrix has expanded the services installed with their basic app publication product from seven to about fifteen running services.  The bloat is absolutely astounding.  Starting with a clean Windows 2008 R2 server, from scratch, you would think I would not run into many compatibility issues out of the box.  Not so fast.  First, XenApp6 is not compatible with any previous versions of Citrix server farms.  So a new farm must be created.  Then it’s time to provide access to the old applications from Presentation Server using the new XenApp “Web Interface” component.  Well, it did not run out of the box and provided a nice generic message in the MMC saying the “correct version of Web interface is not installed”.  Never mind it’s the latest version available from the Citrix download site.  Even more fun, it won’t uninstall and doesn’t provide a reason other than “Web Interface setup ended prematurely because of an error”.  Well, at least it was informative.  I’m guessing it’s all based upon some vaguely published IIS 7 requirements.

All this hassle for what???  The answer is almost as bad as the Citrix product line has become.  As of right now Citrix is the only company providing a Windows server based product that will publish individual applications to users with user level security.  Windows Server 2008 Remote Desktop services will now publish individual applications.    The only piece that’s missing is user level security to each app.  That is the sole reason we still have a Citrix component in play on our network.  A $9300 component for 30 users.

Citrix better come up with a stream lined, viable, affordable product quick or like many admins I will work diligently to remove them from the environment for the first time in my career.  Citrix can press on as the GoTo kids.  They are getting hurt in that area as well because of cost.  A product like GoToAssist can be replaced with a less expensive alternative such as Elsinore Technologies Screenconnect for a fraction of the subscription cost.  Also, Citrix has not adapted well the to mobile market space.  They have very convoluted web interface requirements through products like Access Gateway that get so specific Android and iPhones apps struggle to connect until major back end server changes are implemented.

In short, Citrix products have just become too version incompatible and administratively complicated to justify their usefulness in the toolbox.  Add the insane annual Subscription Advantage price structure and I can assure you even the largest enterprises will start looking for alternatives as they become available.  If Microsoft adds user level security for remote applications in any upcoming service pack or server releases it will be a the gut punch that leaves Citrix struggling to get up from the floor.   How certain am I of this future?  CTXS is one long time stock leaving my portfolio.

The benefits of a 12 hole golf course:

While on the course someone recently said to me “A round of golf has always been 6 holes too long”. I completely agreed as I sweat profusely in the 96 degree North Carolina heat, humidity index not included. By the time the round was done we had spent 4 hours and 25 minutes burning up. This has nothing to do with our rate of play. The speed of a round is generally determined by the group playing ahead of you and how crowded the course is on any given day. Besides speeding up a round there are the other benefits of new courses being designed for 12 holes instead of the traditional 18:

  1. Land use. Many new courses are so expensive to build they have to charge an outrageous greens fee to recoup the investment.  Just look at the new Lonnie Poole course in downtown Raleigh at NC State University.  It’s now struggling to stay alive after just a couple of short years but can’t reduce their fee from $75 a round, not even at student rates.  Reducing some less than profitable courses from 18 to 12 holes would allow the owners to develop or sell the excess land, reducing maintenance costs thereby….
  2. Reducing the greens fees. In a bad economy not many people are attracted to a sport that has historically been sold as one that only the elite and wealthy can participate in.  Shockingly country club memberships are down.  Who’d have thought?  So are the number of players looking for a $55 plus round.  12 holes would reduce the fees and provide the option of walking the course eliminating the cart fee while also providing….
  3. Exercise. I will walk 18 holes.  I won’t walk 18 holes when it’s above 90 degrees outside.  Where I live that’s almost 5 months out of the year.  I would walk 12 in the heat though.  Honestly a round of golf in a cart is for smokers.  It generally provides very little real exercise past your forearms and wrists.  Walking 18 can also take some extra time too.  One of the main reasons I don’t play as often as I would like is….
  4. Time. It’s precious to almost everyone these days.  Even single people.  Add three kids and a wife and any weekend is already a full schedule before I’ve got to be back in the office on Monday.  I usually just don’t have 4-5 hours to justify 18 holes.  Sometimes we’ll just play nine holes but it leaves you kind of wanting a few more tee shots, especially when the course is only taking about $5 off the cost of the greens fee and nothing off the cart fee.  If you’re going to play nine the cart is a waste of time and money.

I wish I had a 12 hole course near me.  I hear the only actual one in existence is located outside of Toronto.  Ya that’s just great, in Canada.  The country almost no US citizen can travel to any more without being strip searched at the border.   No thanks.  I hope some of the US courses in jeopardy will consider closing six holes.   I believe they would see an increase in greens fees and lower maintenance costs providing economic viability.  Maybe even profitability?  I’m not holding my breath though because so many courses are owned by consortium’s of old timers who can’t get past the old idea that a golf course must be 18 holes or it’s just not a course.  The PGA and First Tee could do their part too by supporting 12 hole amateur tournaments if and when the courses become available.

Take a break from facebook.

fbYou might not miss it. Seems like all I ever see posted is a bunch of girly fluff. Even the guys who post on there make sure their posts are way too cutesy and family friendly to be entertaining. I’m actually ready for my days to pass without the urge to check on a facebook status. I must immediately remove the iGoogle facebook gadget designed to constantly remind me other people have little or nothing to do all day except remind everyone how they don’t have anything better to do. There have been rare, occasional exceptions where I learn something important from a status update but not many.

Facebook is a genuine productivity killer for most because it distracts from real life. You know the life where you should be finding something to do instead of hoping to stumble upon exciting events in the lives of others. Seems like all the really important things to me are too personal or sensitive for facebook. No one really wants to know how I feel today. Hell, I don’t want to burden my “friends” with how I really feel most days. It’s suppose to be all witty humor and photos of the kids. People that post their misfortunes and disappointments need to keep that crap to themselves. So many times I’ve wanted to comment “Sounds like a personal problem”. It’s kinda making me a little gag a little to think about it. To all my facebook “friends”, I have not died. I have just gone away to the same place I was before we “found” each other again thanks to some dude named Zuckerberg.