Yes, Citrix is Back!

Citrix Synergy 2016 wrapped up yesterday, and although the official mantra from Synergy was, “Yes!” the unofficial yet abundantly clear take-home message from the event was, “Citrix is back!”  The energy felt throughout the conference by employees, partners, and customers resonated confidence in the strategy, vision, and early execution under Kirill Tatarinov’s new leadership.

In addition to the newfound positivity of the various Citrix teams, they listened—really listened—to what customers and partners were saying.  It was refreshing to see that Citrix was making major strides to understand the user and administrative perspective associated with the various Citrix products. Further, many conversations showed that Citrix would consider refinement in tactical execution as necessary.

The new Citrix is agile, yet polished, and it is focused on business excellence. New product releases occur more frequently with fewer new features rather than as infrequent behemoth releases. There is a newfound expectation that “good enough” isn’t good enough for customers.

Multiple breakout sessions highlighted the security features of Citrix products. Of course, security is a critical aspect of the infrastructure of every organization. In particular, the new capabilities associated with data center security of the XenApp/XenDesktop back end was explained in both overviews and deep dives. Especially because corporate security projects tend to triumph in terms of budget dollars and resources when compared with all other IT projects, these new features and capabilities will serve as a major win for new Citrix implementations, as well as for upgrades. Clearly a smart alignment.

To take security one step further, how RightSignature has been incorporated into ShareFile was presented and demonstrated.  While many may have initially viewed the ShareFile acquisition as just another cloud repository service and questioned why Citrix purchased this company, ShareFile propelled itself as the premier business solution this week. Demonstrations of its secure document sharing and signing capabilities have ensured that ShareFile is indeed an important component of business security imperatives, as well as application, desktop, and mobile solutions.

While the cloud theme was mentioned during almost every presentation, there was a tremendous amount of discussion related to how much cloud was realistic. Across the board, everyone agreed that cloud was an important goal, but that for today and the near-term future, on-premises implementation of Citrix technologies is the most realistic. The move to the cloud will need to be fully vetted from a functional, security, compliance, administrative, and user experience standpoint.

In addition to the exciting product announcements reported earlier this week, Citrix hit hard on VMware with detailed and graphical side-by-side comparisons not only during the keynote but also within breakout sessions. “Dare to compare” was repeated numerous times within these comparisons. This was the boldest attack by Citrix to date. Citrix showed itself as the market leader with respect to virtualization.

Although VMware owns the hypervisor market, Citrix hit hard on the vTax associated with running XenApp/XenDesktop workloads on VMware, as well as on the benefits of the XenServer updated feature set. XenServer now has a well-defined vision and strategy (and a darn good product!), so it is likely that XenServer will chisel away at VMware’s market share going forward. However, because Citrix placed XenServer on the back burner for a few years and literally burned a good number of clients as a result, it will take a significant amount of time before the market feels comfortable with basing infrastructure on XenServer again. But watch this space, as XenServer will undoubtedly continue to make positive strides.

In the past, Synergy was largely a marketing event. While the underlying purpose is still marketing, the buzz among the technical attendees was overwhelmingly positive. In addition to more and deeper technical content throughout the conference, hallway conversations focused on the desire to check out a new technology or how a new feature or solution addressed a business need. Some breakout sessions may have even been too technical for the audience, which is a refreshing change compared to previous years when the deepest technical sessions were largely marketing. Zeros and ones ruled this week.

It’s a new era for Citrix. Within the company, there are fewer layers of management and higher expectations. There is a major focus on the customer and the business proposition. Outwardly, the marketing message is more refined and technical.

Yes, Citrix is indeed back and promises to be better than ever.

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