Citrix VDI-in-a-box users were unable to access their virtual desktop environments when 1 January rolled around, due to a bug that deemed all licenses for the software expired.
Customers were confounded by an error message stating that “no licenses [were] available” until 3 January, when the vendor issued a hot fix.
According to a Citrix advisory, the issue affected “most customers using Kaviza and VDI-in-a-box”, a small-to-medium business focused virtual appliance that it acquired last May.
In the US, VDI-in-a-box is used within government agencies and thousand-seat organisations such as the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
The product has yet to gain traction in Australia, with Citrix planning to recruit local VDI-in-a-box resellers in the coming months.
Citrix’s APAC vice president of product marketing, partners and alliances Nabeel Youakim said it had only “a handful” of VDI-in-a-box customers in Australia.
He was aware of three Australian customers, likely to represent about 150 seats in total, that were affected by the bug.
“The problem was an expired DLL in the code that caused parts of the product not to work,” Youakim explained.
“It was definitely an outage we responded to very quickly.”
VDI-in-a-box customers took to online forums to vent their frustrations and share workarounds in the absence of an official fix.
Some bypassed the error by turning their clocks back to before 2012. Others managed to get their users back online by replacing DLL files or switching to Microsoft’s RDP connection protocol instead of the Citrix HDX protocol.
IBRS analyst Kevin McIssac speculated that the outage may have caused “many CIOs [to be] now wondering about their future”.
"One issue VDI vendors and advocates never raise is the increased risk of a total loss of the desktop across the enterprise,” he said.
"If you put all your eggs in one basket, you need to ensure the basket is very, very robust. This of course increases cost and complexity and makes VDI less competitive to a distributed desktop."
McIssac acknowledged that similar product failures could affect traditional desktop software but noted that the virtual desktop market was less mature.
He said the VDI-in-a-box outage should prompt organisations to analyse their single points of failure so they would know what to do should a failure occur.
Youakim did not expect the outage to affect Citrix’s upcoming reseller recruitment campaign, noting that “resellers understand software very well”.
Citrix’s software would undergo further testing against any similar issues, he said, speculating that customers judged software vendors on how they responded to issues.
“Of course [outages] will happen again, somewhere, sometime. It’s software,” he said. “We apologise ... We didn’t take it lightly and we were as proactive as we can.”