Citrix XenApp Licensing: How It Works

Citrix XenApp (now known as Citrix Virtual Apps) is a platform for managing and hosting virtual applications on the cloud, on premises and in hybrid datacenters. Since virtual applications are accessible from any type of device, organizations using XenApp are freed from costly hardware and OS upgrades. The Citrix XenApp licensing model requires acquiring concurrent licenses that allow users on multiple devices to run multiple instances of virtual applications all at once.

Citrix XenApp and the Required Microsoft Licensing

Citrix XenApp was renamed Citrix Virtual Apps in early 2019. It comprises the virtual applications component in the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops product suite, with Citrix XenDesktop being the virtual desktop component. However, Citrix XenApp remains widely used as the name of the platform.

Citrix XenApp allows hardware with supported Windows Server OSs to be installed with applications that can be accessed from anywhere using any device. The host servers take care of performing all application functions, with Citrix Receiver being the only component required to be installed on client devices that will run the applications.

The entire process is transparent to users. While it may appear as if the applications are running locally, in reality, the users’ devices are nothing more than thin clients, accessing everything on the servers that perform all the processing. Thus, even older devices can be used to run applications hosted on Citrix XenApp.

Aside from being more cost efficient, Citrix XenApp applications are more secure, as vital data never leaves the servers that host your applications. If a client device used in connecting to the Citrix XenApp server is stolen, you can be sure that device does not contain sensitive information.

Moreover, since the server-based applications are practically accessible from anywhere, Citrix XenApp is ideal for remote and mobile workforces.

Organizations are required to have Microsoft Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (CALs) to use Citrix XenApp. Windows Server and SQL Server licenses are also required for setting up Citrix XenApp.

Citrix XenApp allows an unlimited number of host servers for its virtual applications. Thus, organizations are free to install virtual applications on multiple servers. XenApp tracks only the user devices that connect to its servers and assigns licenses to these devices accordingly.

Citrix Licensing Requirements and Functionality

Citrix licensing requirements are often a source of confusion for many organizations, compounded by the various Citrix service offerings for cloud and on-premises environments. This is true for Citrix XenApp as well.

To help organizations make better sense of its licensing requirements, Citrix provides a common licensing model anchored on two key components, namely:

Computers installed with the license server component can either be dedicated solely to or have other purposes aside from license issuance and management. Larger organizations may choose to deploy several license servers at once to streamline operations. Organizations can also upgrade or downgrade licenses as needed.

License servers come with Citrix Licensing Manager, which helps administrators view and track licenses, import additional licenses, create usage reports and manage settings on the license servers. It also generates alerts when your supply of license files are running low and need replenishment.

The typical Citrix XenApp environment works as follows:

  1. User devices connect to the Citrix XenApp servers hosting the applications they need to run.
  1. Citrix XenApp checks License Server for available licenses for the user devices.
  1. Citrix License Server assigns licenses to the user devices.
  1. The applications start running on the user devices.

From a perpetual license model, Citrix transitioned to a subscription license model for all its products, including Citrix XenApp, in late 2020. However, licenses purchased prior to October 1, 2020 are not covered in this new model.

Citrix Concurrent Licensing Model

In a typical scenario, a user device is granted a concurrent license when it runs an application. That license becomes available for use again when the user device stops using the application. Thus, a concurrent license is not tied down to a specific user or device.

Citrix XenApp supports only concurrent licenses. Thus, users are free to access virtual applications at the same time and from any device.

However, concurrent licenses are twice as expensive as user/device licenses. Thus, to prevent overspending on concurrent licenses without reducing productivity, it is imperative to plan your license requirements carefully. For example, an organization that has only half of its 100 users logged to an application at the same time may want to get no less than 50 concurrent licenses to ensure continuous access for its users.

License Grace Period Uses

In Citrix environments, the license servers allow temporary access through a predefined grace period when the licenses have been used up. Grace periods as applied to Citrix products are classified into two types, namely:

Only the 15-day, supplemental grace period is applicable to Citrix XenApp. While this grace period is in effect, users are allowed to continue using the Citrix product. Once the grace period lapses, users will no longer be allowed access. Only after additional licenses have been procured will user access be restored.

Parallels RAS Provides a Simple Single Licensing Model and Reduces Complexity

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) uses an all-inclusive, single-license model to provide enterprise features such as application and desktop delivery, load balancing, monitoring and reporting, universal printing and Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 encryption. Since there are no third-party add-ons to maintain, organizations also do not have to pay for anything extra.

The comprehensive license model offered by Parallels RAS reduces the complexity often associated with license maintenance, allowing organizations to scale their environments on demand and without any hassle. In addition, the solution requires minimal knowledge to configure and maintain, thereby reducing your learning curve. Full training on Parallels RAS is also provided for free, further reducing your expenses.

Download the trial to see how Parallels RAS can help your organization streamline application delivery.