Countdown to Citrix Synergy

Next week, Citrix Synergy takes place in Orlando, Florida. As we look back at the past year, and the last few months in particular, we can see some telltale signs pointing to the underlying themes of the conference, as well as some of the likely highlights.

It’s All about the Cloud

Of course, we can expect that Citrix Cloud will dominate the conference. In addition to Citrix’s tighter relationship with Microsoft, Cloud serves to differentiate Citrix from other virtualization providers. Many former naysayers to Cloud are coming around to “Well, maybe…” Further, Smart Tools, App Layering, and other Cloud functionality certainly make it a more viable option.

The Citrix/Microsoft relationship and Cloud get a jab from VMware’s announcement this week: Get Ready for VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure. Timing the announcement the week before Synergy was likely no coincidence, and saying to the world that Citrix won’t be the only option for Cloud going forward starts to change the game.

While all aspects of the Citrix Cloud story are not 100% complete just yet, VMware is at least one to two years behind Citrix. As Citrix pioneered through this uncharted territory, there were some obvious lumps and bumps, but this strategy has made Citrix, virtualization, and Cloud synonymous at this time because there is no other well-packaged competition.

What Else?

What else can we expect to hear and see at Synergy?

  • Lack of Love for VMware. No surprise that VMware and Citrix continue to gnash teeth at each other in fierce competition. Last month’s NetScaler 12 release quietly included support for PCoIP. This is clearly a play for VMware customers. Being able to securely proxy PCoIP via NetScaler may beckon VMware customers to think about Citrix for the remote access aspect of the infrastructure. Once Citrix is in the door, then there may compelling reasons to consider XenApp/XenDesktop. This strategy is similar to the one that VMware undertook: sell ’em on a core infrastructure component first (vSphere hypervisor), and then you can sell ’em on Horizon View. In this case, however, Citrix is working on increasing appeal from the outside in—literally, with NetScaler Gateway.
  • App Layering. Citrix announced this week that App Layering (formerly Unidesk) version 4.2 has been released. A key item in this release is that User Layer/Personalization for Windows 10 has been released into what they call Labs, which is the equivalent of beta. The reason that this is key is that the User Layer is to XenDesktop what the Elastic Layer is to XenApp: i.e., the layer where miscellaneous applications are added in order to top off the App Layering strategy. User Layer/Personalization allows the user to self-install applications onto a virtual desktop. However, an upgrade path from the current solution, Personal vDisk, has not yet been discussed. If no upgrade path is made available, dismantling PvD in favor of User Layer/Personalization will be a painful process and will impede acceptance.
  • Mobility. At this juncture, mobility is a requirement, not an option, in most organizations. Citrix XenMobile has tripped over itself a few times but seems to have attained a much better trajectory in the past year. However, the Intune/XenMobile strategy has lacked clarity, so perhaps a definition and go-forward approach is forthcoming.
  • May 23. It’s interesting that Microsoft has announced that it “will show the world what’s next” on May 23 in Shanghai. While some rumors indicate that this is a device-related announcement, is it coincidental that the Microsoft event is occurring the same day as the Citrix Synergy keynotes?
  • General Colin Powell. Aside from the technical content and face-to-face collaboration time with industry colleagues, seeing General Colin Powell will be a personal highlight. Having read his biography and understanding that he arose from modest beginnings, I know there is much to learn from this great leader.

While Citrix Synergy has traditionally been a marketing event with a splash of technical content, the sessions and schedule indicate that there will be more technical content this year. Many high-caliber technical sessions and community events are on the agenda, and the Solutions Expo promises to provide excellent technical content as well. If you can’t be there in person, you may wish to virtually attend the keynotes and other sessions that will be streamed live.

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