Citrix Subscription Advantage

Update 6/26/2014:
There was an interesting announcement at the recent Citrix Synergy conference that may indicate the future direction of Subscription Advantage. At that conference, Citrix announced a new product bundle called the “Citrix Workspace Suite,” which consists of XenDesktop Platinum Edition + XenMobile Enterprise Edition. It does not appear that Subscription Advantage, as we have known it for lo these many years, exists for this product. Instead, Citrix appears to have moved to a more traditional (in the software industry) Software Maintenance model that includes product upgrades and 7 x 24 telephone support.

The list price for the Workspace Suite is $450 per named user (there is no concurrent-use license model for this product), plus $99/user/year for Software Maintenance. Software Maintenance is mandatory for the first year (so the first year cost is actually $549/user, not $450…less whatever discount you can get on the license itself) and optional for subsequent years. But it appears that if you choose not to renew Software Maintenance, you will also lose your access to product upgrades, just as has been the case with Software Assurance.

***** End Update *****

I’ve noticed a pattern developing: It starts with a renewal notice, usually around 90-days before Subscription Advantage (SA) is set to expire. The reply email comes back within 48 hours: “What is Subscription Advantage?” I answer and then comes question #2: “Why do I need it?” So I think it’s time once again to shed some light on this mystical annual renewal.

Subscription Advantage IS NOT MAINTENANCE!

Subscription Advantage  IS NOT SUPPORT!

Subscription Advantage IS NOT A WARRANTY!

Ok, now that that is out of the way we can focus on what SA is because it is important that you know exactly what you are paying for. Citrix SA is annual license upgrade protection. The first year is included with your license purchase – after that, there’s an annual renewal cost. What does that mean? Well it means that you bought something that is not a set-it-and-forget-it item. Data centers grow and change all time and the tools used in that data center need to change as well. So as the Citrix products evolve (or change names) you as an owner of “upgrade protection” can take advantage of these upgrades, period.

(There is one exception: it is now possible to purchase a bundle of SA and Citrix telephone support for XenApp. We covered this in an earlier blog post.)

The good news is that Citrix SA doesn’t cost as much as traditional “Software Maintenance” from companies that bundle some kind of telephone support with their upgrade protection. The general rule of SA is that it costs about 11% – 13% per year of the cost of the license. In our experience, traditional Software Maintenance that includes support will typically run you 18% – 20% per year for 5 x 8 support, and 25%+ per year for 7 x 24 support.

However, if you have not renewed your SA and wish to upgrade you will need to pay a reinstatement fee or just buy new licenses. Which option is best for you will depend on how long it’s been since you renewed SA. If your SA has been expired for more than a year, it’s going to be pretty expensive to try to get it reinstated.

Citrix upgrades its products often! So what if I have my own Citrix expert on staff and don’t plan on upgrading for 5-6 years anyway? Well, as we all know, life is what happens while you’re making other plans. What about the rest of your data center? Do you not plan to upgrade that in the next 5-6 years either? In many cases old versions of Citrix products will not be compatible with new technology releases. E.g., Citrix just released XenApp 6, which is specifically designed for Windows Server 2008 R2. Earlier versions of XenApp are not compatible with 2008 R2.

Also, Citrix frequently releases “Feature Packs” for older product versions that add functionality (within the technological constraints of the older platform). If your SA is current, you can take advantage of the new features. If not, you…can’t.

Finally, no software company can afford to indefinitely support every product version that they’ve ever released. Everything has a lifecycle. For example, Presentation Server v4.0 hit the “End of Life” point at the end of 2009. That means there is no support available for the product other than the information you may be able to dig out of the Citrix on-line Knowledge Base. Furthermore, all the downloads have been removed, so you have no way to access any security patches, service packs, hotfixes, etc. This is obviously not a good situation for your production environment – so if you’re still running Presentation Server v4.0, you should be working toward upgrading your environment as soon as you possibly can.

Bottom Line: I recommend SA renewal to everyone who buys Citrix licenses. As the person who handles all the renewal notices for our customers, I have, time and time again, seen people try to save a dollar this year but end up spending more then necessary next year. Plus it is just a headache to realize that you need to upgrade – perhaps to solve a problem that (naturally) surfaced after hours or on a weekend – but can’t get the upgrade because your subscription has expired. So, when you get that email notice from me, just remember: I’m really trying to make your life easier by insuring that you’re upgrade rights are protected!

7 replies
  1. Peter
    Peter says:

    I have a question the SA suport expires but the Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop too?
    This license XA/XD have Expiration Date?
    This license have Grace Period?
    What happens when it reaches the expiration period?
    The user can log in or use their applications when the license is expired completely?

    • Sid Herron
      Sid Herron says:

      Hi, Peter,
      If you have purchased perpetual licenses for XenApp or XenDesktop, your systems will not stop working if SA expires. You will, however, not be able to apply any upgrades that were released after your SA expired. Once SA has expired, you will probably have to pay a reinstatement fee in order to renew it. Citrix is sometimes willing to make an exception, but you need to have a really good reason why you accidentally let it expire. If SA has been expired for more than a year, your licenses are in what Citrix calls a “recovery” mode, and it gets even more expensive to get SA reinstated. If you let three or four years go by, it may be more cost effective to explore upgrade or trade-up license options rather than pay the recovery fee.

      Note that Citrix does sell annual licenses for many of their products, and these annual licenses must be paid for…well…annually, or you will lose your rights to run the products.

  2. vinod
    vinod says:

    thanks for the nice article about the S.A, i would like to know more about the newly introduced Software maintenance program. since i have 3000 + concurrent license .and we are hardly have 25 citrix support calls in a year. do you think is it good and cost saving option to go for ??

    please give your thoughts


    • Sid Herron
      Sid Herron says:

      Great question. Most software vendors charge for “software maintenance,” which traditionally includes both updates and telephone support. For a very long time, Citrix has kept those two things separate: “Subscription Advantage” was your upgrade protection, and if you wanted product support, you either turned to your local Citrix partner (like us), or signed a separate support agreement directly with Citrix. Citrix is now migrating to a more traditional software maintenance model. The thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to purchase software maintenance, you must purchase it for all licenses within a given product family (XenApp, XenDesktop, etc.). With 3,000+ concurrent use licenses, that’s going to be pretty expensive, and if you only have 25 or so support calls per year, you could probably save money by sticking with Subscription Advantage and finding a good Citrix partner to work with on the support side. That said, for many of the new products that Citrix has introduced recently (e.g., the Workspace Suite), software maintenance is your only option. I expect that trend to continue until, eventually, Subscription Advantage will be phased out in favor of software maintenance.

  3. OM K
    OM K says:

    Thanks for the info.
    What happend if our customer’s SA has expired, They can still use there Citrix products normally as long as they don’t upgrade the product version right?

    I have customer just renewed XenDesktop Enterprise Per/User SA
    They are using XenDesktop 7.1
    The newly allocatted license is OK, shown SA date expired 31 March 2015 .
    But what happend if next year SA is expired? They can still use everything as normal right? If not this is a desaster.

    Thankss.. : )

    • Sid Herron
      Sid Herron says:

      The products don’t stop working when SA expires – but you do lose the ability to upgrade. Over the years, SA has proven to be a pretty good investment, so I always recommend keeping it in place unless you’re planning to permanently retire the licenses.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Edition. The Workspace Suite is only licensed in a per-user model. Also, as we mentioned in an update to our blog post on Citrix Subscription Advantage, it appears that, with the advent of the Workspace Suite, Citrix is continuing to move to a more […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.