Citrix licensing overview for XenApp, XenDesktop & NetScaler

This post explains briefly the licensing need-to-knows for XenApp/XenDesktop. Licensing can at times get confusing as most of us know. It can also change, so I’ll do my best to keep this updated.

XenDesktop 7.13 comes in three editions:


XenApp 7.13 comes in four editions:

Platinum/Enterprise/Advanced/Secure Browser

Citrix XenApp Secure Browser, Advanced, Enterprise and Platinum editions come with a concurrent or user/device licensing model.

XenDesktop comes with a User/Device or Concurrent User licensing model.

LTSR for XenApp and XenDesktop uses the same editions as above however is a benefit of Software Maintenance (Customer Success Services). This means customers must have this entitlement to run LTSR. What is LTSR?

Concurrent counts for the number of people logged on at any given time. Say for example, you have 100 staff but only 50 worked during the first half of the day and the other 50 worked for the second half of the day. It may be cheaper to buy 50 concurrent licenses than it would be to buy 100 user/device licenses.

The Device/User model would be focused on the companies who have a greater amount of shift patterns like a hospital. Generally you will find that hospitals have a lot of machines and devices shared between staff, however you may also find that some staff have multiple devices. The Citrix License Server assigns device or user licenses smartly. You can mix user and device licenses together. The license server will optimally assign licenses to users or devices based on their usage. Licenses are assigned to a user or device for 90 days before being released back in to the pool. An administrator can revoke a license manually, quite like you can do with RDS CALs.

If you do purchase XenDesktop licenses, you also get XenApp rights. This means you can deploy XenApp hosted applications or desktops and access them via your VDI environment or even access them from non-VDI devices. If you buy XenApp, you don’t get XenDesktop rights.

It is actually cheaper to purchase XenDesktop licenses, and since it gives you XenApp rights aswell you are on a win win!

If you already have XenApp licenses, and want the ability to deliver XenDesktop down the line, you can use what is called the Citrix trade-up program which allows you to transform your XenApp licenses in to XenDesktop licenses. Citrix also have a two for one offer on trading XenApp licenses for XenDesktop. This means that for 250 XenApp licenses, you could get 500 XenDesktop user/device licenses, or for 250 XenApp licenses you could get 250 concurrent XenDesktop licenses. You could make savings of up to 60% or more. Citrix state that customers trading all their XenApp licenses at once will get the best savings. It is possible to trade a subset of XenApp licenses at any time.

  • Concurrent – This license is only consumed for the duration of the active session. A user can, on any device, make a connection to one virtual desktop and unlimited virtual applications. Once the user has finished and the session has ended the license is released back to the pool.
  • User/Device – Licenses are uniquely assigned to either a user or device. If assigned to a device, it allows unlimited user connections from that device. If assigned to a user, it allows that one user unlimited connections from any device.

The Citrix License Server actually determines whether to assign a license to a user or a device (in a user/device licensing scenario). An example of this would be if User1 was logged on to Desktop1. The License Server would assign User1 a license. Then User1 leaves for the day. Now User2 logs on to that same Desktop1 machine. The Citrix License Server at this stage would pick up on this behaviour and mark Desktop1 as a shared device. Desktop1 would then consume a device license and the user license previously assigned to User1 would be removed. If User1 logs on to Desktop2, a new license will be assigned to User1. If Desktop1 is replaced, the license assigned to it will be released after 90 days. This also applies to User1 (if User1 does not log on after 90 days the license is revoked). If a user has a unique license and leaves the company, the same 90 day license release applies. If you want to manually revoke a license before the 90 day period, use the udadmin command line tool.

Citrix License Server ports:

  • TCP 27000 – License Server port.
  • TCP 7279 – Vendor Daemon – strict licensing only.
  • TCP 8082 – Citrix License Administration Console.
  • TCP 8083 – Director and Studio license integration.

In a concurrent licensing model a license is assigned to a user only for the period of time that they are connected to the Citrix environment. Once they have ended their Citrix session the license is add back to the pool. A concurrent licensed user is entitled to connect to an unlimited number of virtual desktops. The same applies to a concurrent user accessing XenApp resources.

The udadmin command line utility is found on your Licensing Server, within the LS directory.

Licenses must be purchased with Subscription Advantage or Software Maintenance (now called Customer Success Services) from a minimum of one year from delivery.

  • Software Maintenance (Customer Success Services) – Provides you with technical support from Citrix for the likes of XenApp, XenDesktop and Provisioning Services etc.
  • Subscription Advantage – Entitles you to free upgrades whilst the Subscription Advantage license is still in date. This means if you have purchased XenApp 7.6 in August 2015 and 7.7 is released in December 2015, you are entitled to a free upgrade. If however 7.8 is released in December 2016 (yes I know it wasn’t) you won’t be eligible for a free upgrade as your Subscription Advantage contract will have expired in August 2016 if you did not renew.

See here for SA dates –

Under device/user licensing models you will be temporarily granted additional licenses (called overdraft licenses) should you experience unexpected growth or usage spikes (10% allowance). This gives you time to make additional license purchases without compromising service. Concurrent licensing models does not have this benefit. Overdraft usage is reported in Studio.

The concurrent licensing model comes with a 15-day grace period for license count exceeding users. After the 15 days are up any user connecting that exceeds the license count will be denied access.

Multiple license editions such as XenApp Enterprise and XenDesktop Enterprise cannot be installed on the same license server. Additional license servers are needed.

A Citrix site can only support one licensing edition and licensing model if using FMA versions prior to XenApp and XenDesktop 7.14. If using XenApp and XenDesktop 7.14+ you have the option of using license types per Delivery Group. That means DeliveryGroup1 could run Concurrent and DeliveryGroup2 could run User/Device. Another example is DeliveryGroup1 running XenApp Platinum Concurrent and DeliveryGroup2 running XenDesktop Platinum User/Device. You cannot have DeliveryGroup1 running XenDesktop Enterprise and DeliveryGroup2 running XenDesktop Platinum. That requires a separate Citrix Site. Delivery Groups that are not configured for licensing use the Site license. If a site is licensed for XenDesktop Platinum for example, all Delivery Groups must run Platinum level licensing, but that can be XenApp or Concurrent/User/Device mixtures etc.

Key features and their supported license types needed to run:

  • Provisioning Services – XenDesktop VDI, Enterprise, Platinum and XenApp Platinum or Enterprise (applications on desktop OS only).
  • Skype for Business Optimization Pack – XenDesktop or XenApp Enterprise or Platinum
  • Citrix App Layering – XenDesktop all editions and XenApp all editions apart from Secure Browser edition.
  • Citrix App Layering with App Portability – XenApp and XenDesktop Platinum.
  • Remote PC Access – XenDesktop Enterprise or Platinum.
  • XenServer – All editions of XenApp and XenDesktop. All features of XenServer 7.1 Enterprise are available with any version of XenApp or XenDesktop. Previously only XenApp and XenDesktop Platinum versions unlocked certain features.
    • XenServer comes with rights to deploy supporting infrastructure services such as Active Directory and SQL, as long as these services are purposely serving the Citrix infrastructure solely and they are deployed on the same resource pools as your Citrix environment.
  • Workspace Environment Management – XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum customers with active Software Maintenance (Customer Success Services).
  • SCOM monitoring – XenDesktop or XenApp Platinum with active Software Maintenance (Customer Success Services) or Subscription Advantage.
  • Citrix Director in XenApp/XenDesktop 7.12 for Enterprise customers can store up to 31 days of historical analytic data. Previously all versions apart from Platinum stored up to 7 days of trend data for XenDesktop or XenApp. Platinum previously and currently can store up to a years worth of historical data and includes the ability to integrate NetScaler HDX Insight in to the Directoy console for easy viewing. Some features in Director are only available with Platinum licenses, such as custom reporting.
  • Linux Hosted Shared – XenApp and XenDesktop Enterprise or Platinum.
  • Linux Hosted VDI Desktops – XenDesktop Enterprise or Platinum.

If your license server goes offline you enter a 30 day grace period, production is not affected during this time.

For comparisions on XenApp/XenDesktop editions, refer to the feature matrix at

Microsoft licensing requirements: (Subject to change)

  • RDS CALs when using Session Hosts running Windows Server. Only User or Device models are currently offered.
  • Virtual Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) or Windows Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) licenses when hosting or streaming desktop OS. VDA is available through Volume Licensing.
  • VDI Suite when using Hyper-V hosting VM desktops.


NetScaler comes in a physical appliance (MPX), physical with virtual appliances (SDX) and virtual (VPX) and CPX (containerised).

Software Maintenance must be purchased with every new VPX product lixenses for one year from the delivery.

Appliance Maintenance must be purchased for physical appliances.

NetScaler VPX/MPX has three license editions – Platinum, Enterprise, Standard, NetScaler Gateway.

NetScaler Gateway has three license editions – Standard, Advanced, Enterprise.

For comparisions on NetScaler editions, refer to the feature matrix at

Universal Licenses are also required for things such as SmartAccess, EPA Scans and Clientless Access. 5 Universal Licenses come with NetScaler Gateway, Standard and Enterprise edition. 100 CCU Universal licenses come with NetScaler Platinum edition. NetScaler firmware version 11.1 build 49.x and above come with 500 CCU Universal Licenses on Standard NetScaler edition, 1000 for Enterprise and Unlimited for Platinum.

Platinum XenApp & XenDesktop customers get a CCU license for every Platinum XenApp/XenDesktop license they have.


  • Erric Zdzchowski

    March 23, 2017

    Just a minor correction, the 11.1 license change makes 500 CCU Universal Licenses available on Netscaler Standard.

    • George Spiers

      March 23, 2017



    August 23, 2017

    Excellent explanation of Citrix licensing thanks. We have 550 XenApp CCU licenses and may we propose the trade up deal to convert all to XenDesktop but not too sure if CCU or User/Device would be best as will need to maintain a portion to XenApp.

    • George Spiers

      August 23, 2017

      It depends on your business model. The fact that the User/Device model consumes licenses for 90 days makes Concurrent beneficial for a lot of organisations. You could have an organisation with 1000 users connecting to Citrix resources over the space of 90 days but only 200 ever concurrent at one time. Also keep in mind that with XenApp/XenDesktop 7.14+ you can now have multiple different license models within the same Citrix site. So you could have XenApp Enterprise User/Device against DeliveryGroup1 and XenApp Enterprise CCU against DeliveryGroup2. Previously, you had to create separate sites.


        August 23, 2017

        Thanks and will put that in to the mix. The solution design is ever changing and now we have engaged with a supplier to review and help deliver the platform.. How ever that looks.

  • Michael Wenger

    September 20, 2017

    Hi George, just one note. When reading, it’s stated that PVS is not included with XenApp Enterprise, just for VMHosted apps running on a client OS…

    • George Spiers

      September 20, 2017

      Hi Michael, yes that is right. I’ve updated the post.


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