Earlier this week Cisco announced its intention to acquire Whiptail, its 6th acquisition for 2013. The addition to the Unified Computing (UCS) line made sense, as it continues to support their vision to be the infrastructure that clouds run on. To achieve this vision, Cisco will need to make some strategic acquisitions to keep them on track. Even at its current $12 billion evaluation, Citrix would be a great buy. The synergies between the two companies have already been proven with joint development and sales efforts in the field. Let me speculate on what could happen with the products if Cisco picked Citrix up.
What Products Compete
In the case of an acquisition we could expect Cisco to spin off or sell the GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, GoToTraining and Podio as they directly compete with the WebEx and WebEx Social products. WebEx and GoToMeeting essentially make up the market when it comes to commercial online collaboration, and the SEC wouldn’t allow both properties to be under one roof.
GoToAssist could take a back door to Cisco’s TelePresence Remote Assistance Service and either be absorbed or be spun off with the other GoTo products.
What Products Compliment
Cisco’s Prime management products focus on managing the data center, and cloud infrastructure. Citrix brings additional workload management and an end user Application Store with the CloudPlatform and CloudPortal products. Cisco made is very clear that their direction is to be the backbone of the cloud, and these tools from Citrix will enhance the end user’s experience with cloud applications and services.
Cisco and Citrix announced a sales partnership back in October 2012, when Cisco made the decision to stop development on its Application Control Engine (ACE). The two field sales teams and their channel partners were focused on replacing existing Cisco appliances with NetScalers, and Cisco put the NS 10000 series on their price list. Back in June of this year Cisco added NetScaler services to its Cloud Networking Services offering as well. Having already started the services integration and NetScaler getting the Cisco brand, the network appliance would gain another level of clout with the data center infrastructure buyers.
What Cisco Doesn’t Have
All things Xen – Cisco’s acquisition gives them the bits for end to end virtualization; Application, Desktop, Server and Workload. The two companies have had joint customer incentive plans in place for XenDesktop on UCS proofs of concept for some time now, and some of the largest XenApp/XenDesktop installations are built on top of the UCS platform. Starting with the VDI-in-a-box line, we could see validated hardware/software bundles, tiered to the number of users a customer needs to support. Buyers could have a clearer path to purchasing the “right=sized” product for their environment. All Cisco would need to buy is a thin client vendor to complete the end to end offering for customers to have a one-stop shopping experience.
I could see AppDNA being rolled up into their cloud services offering if Cisco decided to become a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) provider (more on that in a minute). This is one of those products (similar to Quest’s ChangeBase) that has had its challenges being sold as a separate line item, but should be a requirement in any desktop transformation project. If a customer is going to move their desktops to the cloud, there should be some assessment made of the applications prior to them be placed in a new operating environment. AppDNA could provide this service.
The GoToMyPC could help enhance the consumer visibility of the Cisco brand. Consumer networking gear and set-top boxes didn’t successfully achieve this. With an extensive existing user base Cisco will get the more end user eyes on the name, when they connect remotely to their desktops. It could also go the way of GoToAssist and be either replaced or enhance the Cisco TelePresence product line.
Lets Get Mobile – Adding XenMobile could launch Cisco into a leadership position for MDM/MAM, building upon the success of the Zenprise product. It could clearly enhance the Unified Communications offerings by being able to extend these services to mobile devices.
The corporate file sharing/syncing market is very crowded, with many security, storage and niche players all contending for market-share. I don’t think Cisco would make too many changes to the product, but I can see it being a key feature in full cloud or hybrid cloud offering. It could also be another inroad to the consumer market by making it an optional component of the GoToMyPC product line.
The Cisco DaaS
After picking up the Citrix pieces, Cisco could have a complete DaaS service offering that could be very price competitive. What Cisco would need is data centers to host the services. They have their choice to build or to buy. VMware’s hybrid cloud service expansion plan is supported by their partnership with Savvis. There are a several global operators that could be the launching pad by providing the facilities for a Cisco service. Moving to a XenServer based platform could also forge extended relationships with other providers, such as Amazon, where a customer could have hybrid cloud services being provided by multiple vendors, and where workloads could be moved between them. Cisco’s reference architecture with Citrix XenDesktop, XenServer and UCS is already considered an industry standard for deploying virtual desktops and could be a huge marketing advantage having a DaaS service based on the platform.
The merger of the two would send two messages; the first is that Cisco is definitely in the cloud game to win, with the second being that Cisco is embracing the end user. The already fragile relationship with VMware could see further fallout, which could then have further repercussions with EMC, VCE and possibly NetApp. Dell and HP, also making strong cloud plays having full virtual desktop options, could align themselves more heavily with VMware View to provide DaaS, which in turn could limit customer options. Corporate end users have seen the Cisco name on their VoIP phones and VPN client for some time. Cisco could be able to make a larger impact on the end user by owning the platform for application and virtual desktop delivery, content and mobile devices. I look forward to Cisco’s next move.