A Merger Scenario: HP and Citrix

I was thinking about combinations of mergers with Citrix that would make sense the other day during a conversation with some industry colleagues.  I spoke about what I thought of an HP and Citrix marriage.  It wasn’t the hottest “hook-up” mentioned, but it’s the one that made the most sense.  We tossed around IBM and Citrix, we talked about Microsoft and Citrix, we spoke about other possibilities as well like Oracle and Cisco snatching up Citrix.  It was very interesting to think about the scenarios and what “might be” if they were to ever happen.  My argument against any of the other names we talked about was that these other players like IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, and Oracle just didn’t make sense due to some of the other competitive moves they have made recently.  I kept coming back to HP and Citrix, but I have to admit HP has made some competitive moves as well, so a Citrix acquisition today probably isn’t likely, but I’m sure is on the minds of Mark Hurd and Mark Templeton.

Now, personally, I would love to see this marriage happen.  As a former HP Solutions Architect specializing in Citrix technologies, I have a soft spot in my heart, and am very passionate about, both company’s overall success.  In my final years at HP I was working very closely with Citrix on many fronts from licensing to strategic implementations at some of HP’s largest customers.  During these years, I was able to see how closely HP and Citrix actually work together.  HP is actually the only server vendor to have full-time engineering resources based at Citrix headquarters in Fort Lauderdale .  This partnership was made even stronger when back in 2005/2006 HP put together an Enterprise Licensing Agreement with Citrix to consolidate all of their Citrix licensing and really make Citrix a strategic way to help them in the data center consolidation project along with delivering applications to a very diverse workforce.  This agreement was done, in part, to show the strong partnership between the two companies, not to mention that the agreement is saving HP a significant amount of money of the five-year term of this agreement.  Needless to say, Citrix and HP have a lot of traction with each other.

Today, I work on the outside of HP and now seeing both companies from an external perspective, I see this partnership growing stronger.  The industry as a whole is starting to see consolidation by acquisition and competitive partnership moves and with this the case for a marriage between HP and Citrix becomes stronger.  Take Oracle/Sun as one example and then look at the partnership between Cisco and VMware , and these are just the two that really jump out over the last sixty days.  I think a marriage between HP and Citrix is both a great combination of technologies companies, but also a great competitive play for both companies.

Citrix’s mission is to “enable a world where virtually anyone can work from almost anywhere“, according to their 2008 Annual Report.  Now let’s compare that with HP’s extensive data center to desktop portfolio, the strategic goals of both companies are closely aligned.  Like HP, some of the more recent acquisitions by Citrix, namely the 2007 acquisition of XenSource have moved Citrix into the server and desktop virtualization markets.  As a result of this and other acquisitions, Citrix is positioned very well to offer companies an end-to-end application delivery infrastructure that really enables a unique and holistic approach to give businesses the ability to adapt and change on-demand.

When we start talking about on-demand computing and the ability to “burst” to the cloud, the Citrix strategy of extending the data center complements HP in this respect as they don’t really compete with the likes of Amazon EC2 really.  This strong move by Citrix to start reaching out beyond the data center gives HP an added advantage to their Cloud Assure offering.  What is HP’s Cloud Assure?  It’s “a non-intrusive turnkey solution, HP Cloud Assure requires no installation of software or agents on your networks or servers. This reduces risks to your production systems while increasing the benefits of true third-party service validation. And our team of experts provides you with ongoing visibility into the availability of your cloud services by diagnosing and reporting on potential performance and security issues before they can impact your business. Whether you utilize cloud services for infrastructure (IaaS), platforms (PaaS), or software (SaaS), HP Cloud Assure enables you to validate and assess:”

  • Cloud security by scanning networks, operating systems, and web applications and performing automated penetration testing
  • Cloud performance by testing for bandwidth, connectivity, scalability and the quality of end-user experience
  • Cloud availability by testing and monitoring web-based application business processes, identifying and analyzing performance issues and analyzing trends for continuing improvement

What a great service offering; HP’s automation and diagnostics along with Citrix’s ability to provide the customer who wants to start using “the cloud” to be able to architect solutions with Citrix C3 and have the piece of mind that it’s being monitored and secured.

According to the Citrix 2008 Annual Report, during the past four years Citrix has made some acquisitions that have brought some great technologies that would also play into HP’s hands very nicely, like:

  • In 2005, Citrix acquired expertise in Web application optimization, multiplexing, multi-protocol compression, SSL acceleration, application traffic management, dynamic caching and Web app firewall technologies
  • In 2006, Citrix acquired expertise in tools that monitor the end-user experience, WAN optimization and acceleration
  • In 2007, Citrix made strategic acquisitions to position themselves in a red hot server and desktop virtualization market
  • In 2008, Citrix acquired QoS technology capabilities that are to be integrated into their Citrix Repeater products

This again all plays into the extensive data center to desktop portfolio of HP.

In closing, the industry landscape is shifting again and the idea of HP and Citrix getting together just makes sense.  HP has:

  • Desktop management
  • Systems management
  • Client hardware
  • Network
  • Server OS
  • Server hardware
  • Storage

IBM, Cisco, Oracle, don’t have that many synergies with Citrix.  Let’s keep a close eye on this one and see if we have a spark.