Citrix Service Providers - How much is image and app management costing your business?

Posted by Andrew Nadeau on Nov 11, 2016

Most Citrix Service Providers (CSPs) manage their XenApp/XenDesktop hosting environments the same way. Every time they on-board a new customer, they create a new image that contains the Windows OS and all the applications that the customer requires. If the customer has multiple departments with different application needs, then multiple images for that new customer are created.

If you're a CSP, here's what that can cost you, why it takes margin right off of your bottom line, and why it limits how fast you can grow your business. Then we'll show you a better way that lets you on-board new customers without any additional costs.

Today, as most CSPs grow and add 25, 50, 100, 500 new customers, the number of images grows linearly as well. Not only do you have to patch and manage a new copy of the Windows OS for every customer, but you have to patch and update all of the apps your customers have in common - Microsoft Office, Google Chrome, Adobe, etc. - many times as well. This is why you have to keep hiring IT administrators to keep up with the growth in images.

For many CSPs, this is the "cost of doing business." Some of that cost you pass along to your customers. Some of that cost you absorb in the form of reduced profit. What if there was a better way? What if this cost could be reduced by 90-95%?

What every new customer costs you today

First, let's calculate what it's costing to you to patch, update, and manage each image that you add to your hosting environment. Here are some assumptions based on CSPs we've talked to (feel free to update based on your business):

Hourly Rate of IT Admin $30 USD per hour
Frequency of Windows updates 12 Times/year
Time to patch an image 1 Hours
Average # of applications per image 10 Applications
Frequency of application updates 3 Times/year
Time to install each app 1 Hours


Here's the math to calculate your cost per customer:

(hourly_rate * frequency_windows_updates * time_patch_image) + (hourly_rate * avg_apps_per_image * frequency_app_updates * time_to_install_app)

($30*12*1) + ($30*10*3*1)

$360 + $900 = $1,260

And this is if each customer only needs 1 image. If your customer needs more than 1 image, you'll be adding $1,260 in operational overhead for each new image you create.

Most customers need a new image for every 50-100 users because of different app requirements. So if you have 50 customers, half of whom can get by on 1 image and half of whom need 2 images, here's what it costs you every year:

(25 * $1260) + (25 * $2520) = $94,500

With each new customer costing you an average of $1,890 in OpEx, you'll be spending the first 2-3 months of their subscription revenue recouping this one expense.

A better solution

Unidesk application packaging and image management software eliminates this overhead, enabling you to manage Windows and apps once no matter how many new customers you have today, and no matter how many you on-board in the future.

Unidesk integrates with PVS and MCS to manage apps and images for both Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop. Unidesk "layering" technology separates the Windows OS and each application into its own separately manageable virtual disk (VHD). You can then use these same reusable layers to build custom images for each of your customers or deliver app layers dynamically at login to a specific user session (XenApp) or virtual desktop (XenDesktop).

The best part about Unidesk for CSPs is that you'll only ever manage one instance of the OS and each application across all your customers.

Let's say you have 50 customers that all use Acrobat Pro, and Adobe releases a security update that must be installed. Assuming half your customers have 1 image and the other half have 2 images and Adobe Pro is needed by all users, that means you'll have to crack open 75 images, install the update, test each image, and then deploy it into production. Using the math above, that will cost you ($30 * 75 * 1), or $2,250.

With Unidesk, you simply update the Adobe Acrobat Pro application layer one time, which costs ($30 * 1), or $30. Unidesk will automatically update every image and every user, speeding up the process to 1/75th of the time and saving you $2,220 for just that one app update.

$$$ savings and ROI

Let's now do an apples-to-apples comparison. As we showed above, today each new image costs you $1,260 and each new customer (assuming some customers need more than 1 image) costs you $1,890.

With Unidesk, if you have already layered all of the applications needed by the new customer, your incremental cost is $0. Just pick the 10 apps and the Windows OS layer the new customer needs, and let Unidesk build you the image.

Now let's look at the total operational cost of app and image management across your 50 customers. Today, it costs you $94,500 every year for those 50 customers.

With Unidesk, the calculation is simply the cost of patching Windows once each month and updating all apps 3 times. The cost calculation, assuming 50 total apps across all 50 customers (some apps will be common) is:

(hourly_rate * frequency_windows_updates * time_patch_image) + (hourly_rate * total_number_apps * frequency_app_updates * time_install_app)

($30 * 12 * 1) + ($30 * 50 * 3 * 1) = $360 + $4,500 = $4,860

So, by introducing Unidesk into your environment, you are able to cut your annual cost of OS and application management from $94,500 to $4,860, which represents greater than 90% reduction in costs. And remember, this is a yearly recurring savings.

Next Steps

Does this sound too good to be true? Many CSPs are now experiencing firsthand the cost savings Unidesk brings to their Citrix environments. Unidesk will literally change the economics of your business and enable you to serve more customers with an accelerated time to profitability on each new customer that you on board.

To get started, Request a Unidesk Business Impact Analysis and then Download a Free Trial.

Topics: Citrix Service Provider

Posted by Andrew Nadeau on Nov 11, 2016

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