ORLANDO – The big news at Citrix Synergy this year was the Citrix Workspace Cloud, a cloud-based control plane that allows for the creation, integration, delivery and management of complete workspaces. It’s a big announcement for Citrix, period. But it’s an especially big announcement for partners.
“I think this will be huge everywhere,” said Michael Murphy, vice-president and country manager of Citrix Canada. “It has been in the works for the last two or three years, because it’s an evolution of where we have been as we released new versions of XenApp, XenDesktop and XenMobile. It allows aggregation of multiple frameworks and architectures into a single pane of glass.”
Ultimately, Citrix Workplace Cloud will be a significant service provider product. But Citrix admits that it isn’t quite ready for that yet, which leaves a huge opportunity for other partners, particularly those with a MSP offering.
“For the channel, this is where they can really step in and aggregate their customer base and provide a value-add offering on a utility-based mode, which most customers will want to use,” Murphy said. “Citrix Workspace Cloud is a great consolidator of what Citrix has done.”
Murphy thinks the solution is a game-changer.
“Any time a single plane of glass emerges to deal with what has become costly and complicated, and deal with it in a simplified and straightforward way, that is game-changing,” he said. “It creates a legitimate opportunity for partners to build it on a one to many basis, for customers in a hybrid environment, with the necessary separation and security. They have an opportunity here to provision the things companies want.”
Other announcements also had special resonance for the Canadian market. While there were no huge announcements in the core XenApp and XenDesktop products, Citrix did announce that XenApp 6.5’s life cycle would be extended until 2017, something what was greeted by applause by customers when CEO Mark Templeton first stated it in a keynote. Most customers have not upgraded yet from 6.5 to the 7x platform, which is now in release 7.6, in part because the change in architectures between the versions discourages migration, but Murphy said that Canadian customers have additional reasons for wanting to wait.
“Customers don’t want to move because of macro conditions and the Canadian dollar,” he said. “With things as they are right now, they say they need more runway, that the additional 12 months is better for them as a customer, which means it is better for Citrix.”
Murphy said that the idea behind Citrix Workspace Cloud, which has been visible at least since Project Avalon in 2012, was that the new solution would overcome migration issues by moving multiple disparate products onto a platform of the future.
“Project Avalon was taking two different frameworks and getting them to the 7x platform, and that was the impetus to the start of what Workspace Cloud is today,” he said. “Let’s get everything on a consistent platform so that when we paint this workspace of the future, it will be easier to get there.”
New feature packs were also announced for XenApp and XenDesktop The XenApp 6.5 Feature pack was especially significant, with the announcement of a new receiver, Storefront 3, and customization capabilities. Murphy said these service packs would be particularly significant for the sales teams.
Murphy thinks XenApp is a stronger brand than XenDesktop, referencing Citrix’s quick retreat last year from the idea of getting rid of the XenApp name and folding it into XenDesktop, saying most people buy XenDesktop today to get the App capability. Two things stood out for him in the XenApp announcements.
“One is the Receiver X1 support, as a prelude to all those coming attractions coming forward, and the other is wrapping FrameHawk into HDX.
“Networks aren’t getting better, they are getting more congested, and having a better framework will help,” he said.
Murphy said that in general, the kind of bundled suite products like Workspace Cloud and Workspace Suite before it haven’t sold as well in Canada, particularly when compared to standalone products like NetScaler, which has done very well here, with growth in the mid-to high 20s. The same thing has impacted Citrix’s mobility play and sharing products like ShareFile.
“We are lagging behind the U.S. in these, and there are two reasons,” Murphy said. “One is the Patriot Act and concerns about privacy, which are not necessarily well founded, but are real. The other is BlackBerry, specifically the patriotic view of Blackberry in Canada, which is slowly changing as business customers begin to realize there are solutions outside Blackberry.” He said this had been an issue when Citrix brought out Workspace Suite, a bundle of XenApp, XenDesktop and XenMobile in a simplified way with one SKU, and fewer management consoles.
“BlackBerry was an issue there because of the mobility component,” Murphy said. While that is changing slowly, it is because of customers’ views of BlackBerry, not because of the innate appeal of the new products.
Finally, Murphy commented on Citrix’s expected unveiling of Citrix Melio, the hyperconverged storage software they got through the recent acquisition of Sanbolic.
“I don’t know if it’s something to get real excited about,” he said. “It’s another great integration story we can take to market when customers are looking for that, a choice for customers who haven’t embraced hyperconverged from a third party. Having our own product as a choice is not that different from Citrix XenServer. It’s a great hypervisor but if people want to use another one, we are okay with that too.”