Today, Citrix and Microsoft announced that Azure Remote App will be deprecated, and a new version of Citrix XenApp on Azure will be the go-forward Cloud-based application virtualization offering. This is game-changing news within the virtualization industry, but what exactly does this mean for customers and the industry as a whole? Further, the timing of this announcement couldn’t be more relevant.
From the Eyes of the Customer
From the standpoint of Azure Remote App customers, this means that there will be a transition in their future as they become users of Citrix technologies. Of course, we can expect that both Microsoft and Citrix will work diligently to ensure that this transition as smooth as possible. From a customer perspective, the Citrix offering is richer and more robust, so the final customer experience will be an improved one.
Azure Remote App customers will transition to a basic XenApp offering in Azure. Unlike the full XenApp/XenDesktop service, it includes limited capabilities with respect to management, monitoring, and the number of catalogs; however, customers will reportedly have the ability to upgrade to full Citrix functionality as well. Citrix is creating a new offering level in order to address this requirement, and full details are not yet available. Nonetheless, this appears to be a major win/win for Azure Remote App customers.
From the Eyes of the Industry
From an industry perspective, Microsoft is tightening its relationship with Citrix and stepping up Cloud domination. The Redmond giant has clearly chosen Citrix as its strategic partner, and the two continue to work towards an impenetrable powerhouse platform for application and desktop virtualization.
The logic of the partnership between Citrix and Microsoft aligns well from both a technology and management perspective. In the case of this announcement, Azure Remote App was a basic offering but lacked the feature set that customers were requesting. Rather than add more bells and whistles, adopting Citrix’s’ offering makes more sense so that Microsoft can continue to focus on Azure and its rapidly-changing development cycle and tremendous growth.
On the management side, let’s not forget that only seven months ago, Kirill Tatarinov become President and CEO of Citrix. When Kirill stepped into this role in January, he took several months to quietly assess Citrix and gain a clear understanding of the organization. While Citrix had a very talented and dedicated team, it needed the right head coach to realign the company. Because Citrix had acquired and developed a large number of diverse technologies, Kirill forced the organization to focus on key strategic areas and rationalize some parts of the business.
Kirill’s history with Microsoft spans many years in top-level roles, and several key executives at Citrix once received their paychecks from Microsoft as well. As such, these relationships had a deep-rooted history, and synergies further developed. The combination of Kirill’s well-calculated planning and existing relationships have uniquely enabled him to take Citrix from mediocrity to major in a short time.
Citrix and Microsoft Strategic Timing
A key element is the timing of Citrix and Microsoft announcement. No one should think that announcing that the deprecation of Azure Remote App in favor of Citrix XenApp on August 12th is accidental. There is no doubt that this is a well-orchestrated offensive strategy.
As typically happens in mid to late August, the competition between Citrix and VMware heats up in light of the upcoming VMworld annual conference. Last year, Citrix challenged VMware’s hypervisor options–actually, the lack thereof—built into VMware Horizon, and that challenge is pale in comparison to the headwinds that VMware will be experiencing as VMworld opens this year. The virtualization contest has elevated from the hypervisor to the Cloud. With VMware expected to finally showcase their Cloud offering at VMworld, they are clearly playing catch-up to Citrix because up until now, VMware has talked about Cloud but hasn’t had anything tangible to show.
As the excitement builds for VMworld in Las Vegas starting on August 28th, the competition between Citrix and VMware will continue to escalate. Citrix will further drive its offense forward as part of the live event in conjunction with Microsoft to be held on August 23rd. In that session, both Citrix and Microsoft will expand on today’s announcement, as well as discuss Windows 10 desktops, Office 365 mobility integration, and preview related offerings and programs.
What could VMware possibly present at VMworld that compares to the Citrix and Microsoft relationship and this announcement?