Citrix Service Providers Automate and Scale Operations with Unidesk

Posted by Tom Rose on Oct 12, 2016

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In a previous post, I shared how an enterprise customer will save more than $3 million by using Unidesk to streamline application and image management, expand Citrix XenApp hosted workspaces to all users, and put an end to costly PC refresh cycles. Citrix Service Providers (CSP) are recognizing that the automation and efficiencies provided by Unidesk can greatly impact their bottom lines, too.

Here's a quick look at why large and small CSPs alike are choosing Unidesk to reduce costs, improve service, and on-board more customers without adding more staff. At the end, you'll see how one mid-sized CSP expects to trim more than $1.75 million off of its annual cost of operations, based on the real-world numbers they gave us.

The Cost of App and Image Management for Large CSPs

Large CSPs host XenApp and XenDesktop for enterprise customers, who typically require a large number of Windows apps. Packaging these apps using legacy agent-based PC configuration management or application virtualization tools is time-consuming and requires highly skilled IT administrators. Apps that cannot be virtualized are manually installed onto Windows images, often delivered by Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS) as separate vDisks. Every image that gets created multiplies the IT effort needed to patch and update Windows and all of the apps that appear on each vDisk.

This effort can be easily translated into costs based on some standard assumptions:

  • The large CSP hosts 10 customers
  • Each customer averages 5,000 users
  • 10 images (vDisks) are needed for each customer and must be patched and updated monthly
  • 150 apps are needed by each customer and must be updated an average of 2 times per year
  • Updating each image takes 1 hour and packaging each application takes an average of 8 hours
  • The hourly wage of an IT admin is $40

The yearly cost of packaging 1,500 apps twice a year and patching 100 images every month is just over $1 million, which comes right off the CSP's bottom line. Furthermore, the time needed to deliver new applications will not allow for aggressive SLAs. Worst of all, the model doesn't scale - adding more customers will require commensurate additions of more IT staff.

The Cost of App and Image Management for Smaller CSPs

Smaller CSPs have the same high cost of operations as large CSPs, even though they typically host XenApp and XenDesktop for small and medium sized businesses (SMB). The challenge for the smaller CSP is that they have to host more SMB customers to make up for the small number of users in an SMB. And while each SMB customer may only use a handful of apps, they all need their own image (vDisk).

You can see what this does to the smaller CSP's costs based on some standard assumptions:

  • The smaller CSP hosts 75 customers
  • Each customer averages 50 users
  • 75 images (vDisks) are needed, 1 for each customer, and must be patched and updated monthly
  • 10 apps are needed by each customer and must be updated an average of 2 times per year
  • Updating each image takes 1 hour and packaging each application takes an average of 8 hours
  • The hourly wage of an IT admin is $40

The yearly cost of packaging 100 apps twice a year (assuming some apps are common across the 75 customers) and patching 75 images every month is just over $100K per year, which comes right off the CSP's bottom line. For a small CSP business, this is a significant cost. Plus they will be faced with the same service level compliance and scalability challenges as the large CSP.

How One CSP Will Save $1.75M with Unidesk

Let's look at the real world numbers given to us by a mid-sized Citrix Service Provider. They are hosting 5,000 users on Citrix XenApp, packaging 1,300 applications that get updated an average of 5 times a year, and patching 170 images that are updated every month. Here are their costs today, which is why they have 18 FTEs whose sole job is application and image management.

Cost Amount
Operational cost of managing 170 images

$29 per hour for Tier 2 IT administrator, 1 hour per image, 12 updates per year

$59,000
Operational cost of packaging 1,300 applications

$29 per hour for Tier 2 IT administrator, 10 hours per app, 5 updates per year

$1,855,000
Total annual cost of of application and image management $1.94 million

Here are the CSP's projected costs once Unidesk is fully deployed (note this is based on an up-front capital investment in Unidesk, whereas most CSPs are using Unidesk subscription pricing to pay per user per month).

Cost Amount
Operational cost of managing 1 Windows Server OS layer

$29 per hour for Tier 2 IT administrator, 1 hour per OS layer, 12 updates per year

$348
Operational cost of layering 1,300 applications

$29 per hour for Tier 2 IT administrator, 1 hour per app, 5 updates per year

$188,500
Total annual cost of of application and image management with Unidesk $123,728
Total one year savings provided by Unidesk $1.75M
Payback period based on cost of Unidesk 4 months

Other Unidesk Benefits for CSPs

There are other important benefits that Unidesk gives CSPs beyond the operational cost savings:

  • Accelerated App Delivery - Unidesk will enable the latest software packages and updates to be delivered in hours, compared to the weeks required to deliver apps today, enabling CSPs to offer more competitive service levels.
  • Increased Workspace and Application Availability - Unidesk enables CSPs to "undo" problematic patches that often slip through testing. Instead of having to wait for admins to do manual break/fix or write uninstall scripts, CSPs can get customers running again by simply rolling back an app or OS layer and having users logout and login or, worst case, by rebooting a XenApp server.
  • IT Flexibility and Agility - Unidesk's ability to deliver the same app packages to different hypervisors and end user computing platforms without re-packaging enables CSPs to switch hypervisors or end user computing platforms to reduce costs.
  • Compliance - Unidesk's fast, reliable app packaging helps satisfy security and compliance audits.

Challenge Us on the Numbers

Do these numbers sound too good to be true? If you're a CSP - or even if you're not - let us run the numbers for your business. Our impact analysis can show you potential cost savings whether you're using Citrix XenApp, Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft RDS/RDSH, VMware Horizon, or another desktop virtualization platform. We'll populate the worksheet using your own data, share it with you, and work with you to refine it. Ask for your own Unidesk Impact Analysis today.

Topics: Citrix XenDesktop, Citrix XenApp, Citrix Service Provider, Scale

Posted by Tom Rose on Oct 12, 2016

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