I’ve noticed a pattern developing: It starts with a renewal notice, usually around 90-days before Subscription Advantage (SA) is set to expire. The reply email comes back within 48 hours: “What is Subscription Advantage?” I answer and then comes question #2: “Why do I need it?” So I think it’s time once again to shed some light on this mystical annual renewal.
Subscription Advantage IS NOT MAINTENANCE!
Subscription Advantage IS NOT SUPPORT!
Subscription Advantage IS NOT A WARRANTY!
Ok, now that that is out of the way we can focus on what SA is because it is important that you know exactly what you are paying for. Citrix SA is annual license upgrade protection. The first year is included with your license purchase – after that, there’s an annual renewal cost. What does that mean? Well it means that you bought something that is not a set-it-and-forget-it item. Data centers grow and change all time and the tools used in that data center need to change as well. So as the Citrix products evolve (or change names) you as an owner of “upgrade protection” can take advantage of these upgrades, period.
(There is one exception: it is now possible to purchase a bundle of SA and Citrix telephone support for XenApp. We covered this in an earlier blog post.)
The good news is that Citrix SA doesn’t cost as much as traditional “Software Maintenance” from companies that bundle some kind of telephone support with their upgrade protection. The general rule of SA is that it costs about 11% – 13% per year of the cost of the license. In our experience, traditional Software Maintenance that includes support will typically run you 18% – 20% per year for 5 x 8 support, and 25%+ per year for 7 x 24 support.
However, if you have not renewed your SA and wish to upgrade you will need to pay a reinstatement fee or just buy new licenses. Which option is best for you will depend on how long it’s been since you renewed SA. If your SA has been expired for more than a year, it’s going to be pretty expensive to try to get it reinstated.
Citrix upgrades its products often! So what if I have my own Citrix expert on staff and don’t plan on upgrading for 5-6 years anyway? Well, as we all know, life is what happens while you’re making other plans. What about the rest of your data center? Do you not plan to upgrade that in the next 5-6 years either? In many cases old versions of Citrix products will not be compatible with new technology releases. E.g., Citrix just released XenApp 6, which is specifically designed for Windows Server 2008 R2. Earlier versions of XenApp are not compatible with 2008 R2.
Also, Citrix frequently releases “Feature Packs” for older product versions that add functionality (within the technological constraints of the older platform). If your SA is current, you can take advantage of the new features. If not, you…can’t.
Finally, no software company can afford to indefinitely support every product version that they’ve ever released. Everything has a lifecycle. For example, Presentation Server v4.0 hit the “End of Life” point at the end of 2009. That means there is no support available for the product other than the information you may be able to dig out of the Citrix on-line Knowledge Base. Furthermore, all the downloads have been removed, so you have no way to access any security patches, service packs, hotfixes, etc. This is obviously not a good situation for your production environment – so if you’re still running Presentation Server v4.0, you should be working toward upgrading your environment as soon as you possibly can.
Bottom Line: I recommend SA renewal to everyone who buys Citrix licenses. As the person who handles all the renewal notices for our customers, I have, time and time again, seen people try to save a dollar this year but end up spending more then necessary next year. Plus it is just a headache to realize that you need to upgrade – perhaps to solve a problem that (naturally) surfaced after hours or on a weekend – but can’t get the upgrade because your subscription has expired. So, when you get that email notice from me, just remember: I’m really trying to make your life easier by insuring that you’re upgrade rights are protected!