In recent years, solution providers have been introduced to software-defined networking, software-defined storage, the software-defined data centre, and score of other software-defined strategies from a variety of vendors. At this week’s Citrix Mobility event in Toronto, the virtualization and mobility vendor added to the growing list of software-defined IT trends, telling customers and partners to get ready for the software-defined workplace.
Anthony Ricco, vice president of worldwide demand marketing at Citrix, compared the software-defined workplace (SWP) to the more established and more technically-focused software-defined data centre (SDDC), saying the two had “the same mindset” around virtualizing and abstracting, but maintaining the two are very separate parts of a modern IT strategy, and both very important.
“One’s about storing data and content, and the other is about delivering it through the network to a human being,” Ricco said. “The principals are the same, moving from physical to virtual, but you really have to think about them separately, and have a roadmap for each one.”
To Citrix’s way of thinking, while SDDC provides automation and virtualization of provisioning servers, networks and storage, SDWP focuses on automating and virtualizing end users’ workflows. While SDDC focuses on time to application availability, SDWP is about time to end user productivity. Operational efficiency is the key performance indicator for SDDC, while SDWP is about business agility.
“The software-defined data centre is about operational and technical outcomes, the software-defined workplace is focused on business and human outcomes,” Ricco said.
And that, he suggested, makes the workplace discussion a CEO-level discussion, while data centre largely remains a CIO-level discussion. Of course, that also means the conversation is more strategic, but it also moved it out of the familiar-to-solution providers realm of IT’s language, and into the specific language of the customer’s industry. To effectively identify customer needs and to win customer buy-in, solution providers will have to be able to have a dialogue “in the language of the industry,” Ricco said, providing examples of mobility and application virtualization journeys made by clients in healthcare and education markets, using the terms and concepts that resonate most with those verticals.
Much of the channel has started on some form of its own SDDC journey, and partners who have can unveil additional opportunity by also focusing on the SDWP opportunity, Ricco told ChannelBuzz.ca after his keynote here.
Partners can take the concept to existing data centre customers, a way to immediately lift their opportunities.
To be successful in the space, Ricco said solution providers need to have competencies in virtualization, in mobility management, and in networking – not a light load, especially for smaller regional solution providers. But one that can provide significant uplift opportunities, and also one where the specializations are rapidly converging, making it more accessible to a wider variety of solution providers.
“They have an opportunity to look at the user experience, do an assessment, survey users,” Ricco said. “Start in a more consulting workflow, and then identify IT project opportunities from there.”
As it is important for both IT and especially solution providers to “speak the language,” Ricco also urged partners to focus on specific key verticals with their mobility plays. He said he sees many partners, particularly in the ISV space, being “diagonal” partners, either starting with horizontal expertise in a certain department and then building out vertical expertise on top of that, or coming at it from the opposite direction.