Why Should You Prefer Parallels RAS Over Citrix XenApp?

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citrix xenappWhat is Citrix XenApp?

Citrix XenApp used to be known as Presentation Server, MetaFrame, and WinFrame.

Essentially, Citrix XenApp is a collection of pieces of software that allow you to access applications without having to install anything on the client apart from the Citrix client software. All processing is done by the server. Information going from the client to the server consists of mouse clicks and movements, and keystrokes; and information going from the server to the client consists of screen refreshes. In other words, this is about virtual applications or application virtualization (please read more here about this topic). It is also possible to publish  server desktops and provide users with a complete Windows user interface, with full access  and operability on it. This is known as Hosted Shared Desktop or remote desktop publishing (read more here about this topic).

IT managers can manage the operating system and applications centrally, quickly deploying applications to many thousands of users without having to “touch” each client device. The advantages of virtual applications and remote desktops are sought by many businesses in order to allow their remote workforce to work as though in the office.

Citrix XenApp Licensing

The Citrix Xenapp licensing model is in three levels:

  • Advance: $195.24 per license, for one Concurrent User
  • Enterprise: $319.95 per license, for one Concurrent User
  • Platinum: $426.60 per license, for one Concurrent User

These prices are dated December 2014, and were taken from the list price published on the HP market. The main differences between the first licensing level and other two levels are mostly in reporting capability, multi administrator manager credentials and multi server environment. The list of differences is available on  Citrix XenApp matrix.

Citrix XenApp Limitations

Citrix XenApp itself does not provide any support for VDI. Citrix directs customers to XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum editions to guarantee the same level of flexibility for both Terminal Server and VDI.

Apart from this technical limitation, it is important to note that there is no upgrade path between the different licensing levels. This means that if a company owning licenses for Citrix XenApp Advanced edition grows and requires Platinum features, it has to buy new licenses as though a brand new customer.

The fact that certification is needed to install and configure Citrix XenApp is a good indicator of its complexity. Usually licensees have to enlist the help of third parties to get the software up and running. Just as an example, load balancing on multiple servers is one of the most common business needs. Unfortunately, this is far from easy with Citrix XenApp. Many blogs have tried to explain how to get out of this configuration spiderweb. In this one, for example, the load balancing configuration is explained in 17 long steps.

Virtualization is not an easy subject, but there is no need to suffer so much to get your system up and running.

Parallels RAS as an Alternative to Citrix XenApp

Parallels RAS Reduces Complexity

Parallels Remote Application Server (Parallels RAS) is an ideal solution for management of Virtual Applications, Remote Desktops and a VDI infrastructure. Its connection broker is able to deliver virtual items from the major hypervisors to any device. With Parallels RAS it is possible to publish a Virtual Desktop from a VMware hypervisor and an application from a Windows Server simultaneously.

In addition to this unique flexibility, the software is also easy to manage and use. For instance, Parallels RAS can be installed in a very short time: minutes against the hours needed to install Citrix XenApp.

Load balancing is autoconfigured in the management console: there is no need for the IT manager to take any extra action, so you can do this in one step instead of 17 (check our manuals to see the details). Your IT people just have to select the servers over which they wish to distribute the workload.

Parallels RAS Licensing

Parallels RAS has just one licensing package, allowing all customers to use the full power of the software. The initial investment is always guaranteed because the customer can add extra licenses at any time without changing the initial configuration or license package.

The Parallels RAS license:

  • $75 per license – one Concurrent User

Think of the numbers. If you need licenses for 15 concurrent users, with Citrix XenApp Advance you have pay around $2975. If you go for a Platinum package instead, your bill increases to $6390. For the same number of users, with Parallels RAS you’ll pay less than $1200.


Citrix XenApp delivers Remote Desktop Services and Application Virtualization to most available devices. The solution is partial because it does not cover VDI. The licensing is complex, divided into three licensing levels: Advance, Enterprise and Platinum. There is no scalability because there is no upgrading pathway between the three levels. For 15 users the licenses could cost over $6000. The configuration and installation are complex and require certified and expensive third parties.

Parallels RAS works with Remote Desktop Services, Application Virtualization and VDI. There is only one licensing package that includes all the services available. For 15 users, the licensing cost is around $1000. The configuration and installation are easy and very fast – the software can be up and running in less than five minutes.





Definition | searchvirtualdesktop.techtarget.com


Installation and Getting Started | pluralsight.com


Management Pack for Citrix XenApp | managementproducts.comtrade.com



Giorgio Bonuccelli is a Marketing and Communications Director at Parallels. Giorgio has extensive experience in cloud computing and virtualization, with a background of many years in multinational corporations (Dell, EMC and McAfee). In his career he has filled different roles, from sales to training and marketing. This wide-ranging experience and flexibility helps him simplify concepts and write content that is easy to read and understandable even by newcomers to the subject. As a blogger and technical writer he has published more than 1000 papers.