Citrix Systems: Not the Cheap Seats
They may not be bargains, but Citrix Systems' remote-access products are reliable and useful, customers say.
"Basically, we've had no hiccups," says Chris McDaniel, CIO of securities broker Mutual Service Corp. The Florida company uses the SSL encryption features of Citrix Presentation Server to provide agents in 2,200 offices secure access to a variety of applications, including stock and bond trading programs. The Citrix software has been rock-solid since the company installed it four years ago, McDaniel says: "It's tried and true."
And unlike other SSL gateway vendors, Citrix provides full-fledged access to desktop applications and security rolled into one. Eric Hanson, manager of information security at commercial printer Quad/Graphics, says Citrix Presentation Server has become "the dominant method for remote access" for the company's 11,000 employees. That's mainly because it provides a simple way to serve up Windows-based applications, including Quad/Graphics' homegrown project management system, Hanson says: "If you want the full desktop experience, Citrix is where you want to be."
Citrix products, however, are pricey, says Tarron Weir, vice president of network operations for HUB International Northeast, a commercial insurance broker in New York. To provide secure application access for 500 employees, Citrix was asking more than $100,000. "We felt it was exorbitant," says Weir, who opted instead for an SSL VPN appliance from Array Networks for $50,000.
Clarence White, CIO of Salvation Army USA West, concurs: "They kill you with the per-seat pricing." His group, which covers 13 Western states, recently bought two Citrix Access Gateway appliances to give 6,000 workers access to an accounting system and other applications. Citrix charges $99 per user concurrently accessing a gateway; White estimates he will need to buy a license for 1,400 concurrent users—for a total of about $140,000. (By comparison, F5 Networks' FirePass 4100 has a list price of $85,000 for 1,500 concurrent users.) Still, White believes Citrix is the best option because of its reliable software. "I have a love-hate relationship with Citrix," he says. "They cost too much—but they deliver on their promises."
A Citrix spokeswoman says its SSL VPN products are less expensive than competitors' at "lower user counts" but that "at very high thousands of users, the Citrix [suggested retail] pricing does appear uncompetitive." As a result, she says, the company plans to revise its price list soon to reflect volume discounts.
Citrix Operating Results*
* Fiscal Year Ends Dec. 31
Total assets - $1.68B
Stockholders' equity - $1.20B
Cash and equivalents - $484.04M
Long-term investments - $51.29M
Long-term debt - $31.00M
Shares outstanding - 182.77M
Market value, 1/26 - $5.52B
** As of Dec. 31, 2005, except as noted