Citrix is building your workspace of the future

CEO Tatarinov’s strategy centers on secure access to apps, data from any device anywhere on prem or in the cloud.

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Mobility and networking

I also wanted to talk about the mobility management market. There’s a lot of competition there, so what do you view as your key differentiators.

Mobility management you can parse into two categories: mobile device management and mobile application management. Mobile device management is rapidly becoming a commodity and there are a broad range of players that are offering technologies, including device vendors themselves, and that is not an interesting market to be in.

In mobile application management we have real differentiators. It’s essentially playing to the trend of BYOD where most organizations today not only allow people to bring their own devices to work but don’t provision corporate devices. They assume that people will be bringing their own devices. Enabling someone to own the device and manage the device itself but at the same time have corporate IT manage mission-critical assets on the device is a huge need. That’s precisely what we offer with XenMobile, getting truly secure so you’re not afraid that your corporate assets will walk away if you decide to put them on the device.

Of course, you can always deliver them virtualized, which we also support and having the two together makes a whole lot of sense. But you can put them on the device, whether it’s sensitive files or email content or anything else, then open up a VPN channel on a per application basis so the device itself is not enrolled. There’s no VPN for the device but there is a VPN channel established on a per-app basis. A combination of NetScaler and XenMobile enables this.

Another very interesting differentiator that we’re now starting to see coming into demand in our conversations with clients actually comes through our very deep partnership with Microsoft. What we announced in May and what we will be introducing in the next couple months is a connection between Citrix and Microsoft mobility management technology. The two are better together and that becomes the obvious choice for all Microsoft customers that use Microsoft’s mobility management.

I want to talk about the networking piece of your business. Again, the same question; what do you see as the key differentiators there? What does Citrix bring to the table that you want to make sure people understand?

Citrix NetScaler has some unique characteristics which all stem from one important differentiator: We are truly software defined, which means our networking technology can exist in a broad range of form factors. It can run as a large high-powered appliance, it can run on a bare metal server, it can run in a virtual environment or it can run in the cloud. That gives us tremendous ability.

[ MORE ON CITRIX: Citrix: What kind of company is it anyway? ]

We focus on three major segments of the networking industry. First and foremost - and the largest - is ADC, application delivery control. That is a very significant play for us in strategic service providers, cloud providers. We also deliver cloud services at scale. We see a very significant part of our business also coming from the enterprise. The two, interestingly, balance each other. As more and more workloads move to the cloud and more SaaS applications are being deployed, being a provider of networking technology to cloud providers plays out quite significantly. And of course hybrid is a fact of life for most IT organizations.

We entered the market of SD-WAN that is a new wave of wide area network optimization technologies yet again through our pure software-defined approach. We have some unique technology that allows for increased resiliency of the network close to real time. There’s nothing in real time but close to real time. In demonstrations with NetScaler SD-WAN where you are on a Skype for Business call and during the call the wire gets cut, our technology automatically reroutes the traffic to a secondary network, most frequently in that situation it will be 4G wireless, and you don’t notice anything during the call. It is so close to real time that there is not even a glitch in the video conversation.

Think about the need for this network resiliency; it’s not only about cost. Of course, cost savings are significant but it’s resiliency of the network. Every company that runs branches at scale and runs mission-critical applications at the branches needs resiliency. And last but not least, also a recent entry for us, is in management and analytics. NetScaler has full visibility in networking layers 4-7 so we get to see a lot. We now are enabling network and IT professionals to analyze the patterns, the traffic, what’s happening on the wire and reconfigure their environment based on what they see.

Competing or complementary

When you talk about it being a pure software-defined approach, is it equivalent to, for example, a VMware NSX software-only strategy. Is it complementary to the software-defined networking initiatives that a Cisco or an HPE or other network companies are developing?

NSX is in a different segment but when you think of SD-WAN and ADC, that’s the approach we’re taking.

I guess I’m just trying to understand. If I’m already a Cisco, Juniper, Arista or Hewlett Packard Enterprise customer in networking are you complementary to what I already have or are you trying to displace something in those environments?

In most cases we’re complementary. We have a pretty close partnership with Cisco on ADC in particular. We’re obviously working very closely with HPE and all of those vendors. Similarly, on SD-WAN, while there is some competition from some traditional vendors and some upstarts, for the most part it’s complementary.

The SD-WAN market is interesting. How do you see that evolving?

IDC certainly predicts very rapid growth in the market and we see very significant demand from organizations of all sizes. We don’t see demand being ignited by the cost saving considerations. The demand is ignited by resiliency and reliability considerations. It’s optimizing so that your pipe into the branch does not go down. That’s what people want and that’s what NetScaler is doing and keeps doing.

I also wanted to talk about the file sharing market and your ShareFile product. What problems are you solving here for customers?

Secure access to files and secure synchronization of files for business, for organizations of all sizes. ShareFile started in SMB and that’s still the largest part of the business. Citrix ShareFile is growing very rapidly.

What competitive products would I compare it with?

There is a broad range of commodity storage, just a way for you to store data.

You’re talking about Box or Dropbox or things like that?

That’s the category but the places where ShareFile differentiates is it’s built for business. It has built-in workflows, it has workflows that are built for particular verticals like accounting, legal, healthcare. All of those workflows and support for unique file types are baked into the product. It has an option for you to deploy your files on-premise. You can basically set up zones that you can put on-premise. It will still be orchestrated from the cloud, it is born-in-the-cloud technology but we do support on-prem options for those who want to have hybrid IT and for those who need that.

How does this fit in with the virtual desktop environment that you explained early on?

There is no app without data so ShareFile provides data. ShareFile provides application data in that same construct, in that same storefront.

Going back to our April interview, you were asked about your competitive set. Specifically, John asked you about VMware and one of the things you said was: “VMware has made a lot of claims, some true, some not”. What did you mean by that?

VMware over the years succeeded in creating an image that is bigger than what the reality is, in particular, in virtual cloud computing. Citrix is the unrivaled leader in that segment with over 45% market share.

I want to make sure I understand what segment you mean.

Virtual cloud computing is VDI, it’s virtual desktop and virtual app essentially. The last I looked, VMware’s share in that segment is somewhere around 15% and yet they succeeded in making claims that they are the leader in that segment which we found laughable. In the past, Citrix chose not to correct it and we’re absolutely correcting it now.

Was that it?

There’s a broad range of other things, in functionality and types of relationships that they have with Microsoft and there’s a long list.

I guess this touches on the next question. You also said in that interview, to some Citrix “has been soft in our approach to competition.” You touched on this at the beginning of this interview. What did you mean by that and how are you changing it?

Well, it’s a cultural transformation where we are working with our global team and our partners and being absolutely clear with them that we should not lose. We have better technology now. It’s been proven time and time again and there’s no reason for you to lose. Our competitors are known to discount their products at times to zero and sometimes we are going to choose not to match that because we know that those customers will eventually come back to us.

That’s not a very good customer anyway.

Right. Well, it’s the whole enterprise agreement that most large vendors play in, but it’s a cultural transformation. It’s being clear that we are the leader, we should not lose and we need to stake our claims and stay true to our strategy and our direction and don’t waver.

When you talk about that cultural change, is it becoming a more sales driven organization versus engineering led?

Citrix has always been a technology company. Reigniting those innovation engines is an important part of that transformation. It’s OK to acquire when you find an interesting acquisition target but let’s make no mistake. We’re in business because we’re a technology provider and innovating and building new products, new technologies, new capabilities is the number one thing that will differentiate us. Making the culture stronger and being clear who we are from the engineering side has been a very important part of this transformation.

A lot has been done with hackathons, with internal tech fairs, with bubbling up all the great work, all the great grassroots work and celebrating our success on the engineering side. Also, connecting the dots and making sure it’s the whole of Citrix that we position with our customers, not piecemeal. In the past, this was a bit of a problem. We’re now much more united than we’ve ever been. To your point, it is a somewhat different sales culture. I wouldn’t be afraid to use the word aggressive. We have to train our people and tell our people to be more aggressive.

How is the messaging and marketing going to change so that people see what you’re driving at here and understand the totality of what Citrix offers?

We’ve been running our advertising campaign, our awareness campaign, since May. We’re getting some good results. We know that we need to do more. What I found was that there is a whole lot more to Citrix than the world knows about and continuing to explain it and continuing to put our message out will be hugely important. The best way for us to do it, and the aspect of our marketing that works the best, is having our customers tell our story through their use cases. That’s been amazing. The biggest asset at Citrix is 400,000+ organizations that start their day with Citrix and end their day with Citrix. It’s truly a mission-critical platform for them and more and more of them are willing and eager to tell our story.

What’s ahead for the coming year?

There’s a lot in store from the product side and we have an amazing roadmap for the next 12 months. Our engineering team is in this mode of continuous engineering. That’s the No.1 thing that gets me excited.

What are the areas that you’re investing most in?

Analytics and bringing intelligence is certainly one aspect that is going to be dominant through everything that we do. Also, bringing out more security capabilities. That’s going to be a very significant theme for all of our engineering teams. Working closer with our partner ecosystem. When we look at next year, the term that we use with our own people is to reinvigorate our partner channel.

We understand that Citrix is a tools vendor and we exist in the world of broad ecosystems, ecosystems being Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Amazon, HP Enterprise. Being very clear on how we play in the world of those ecosystems and investing in very targeted, focused integrations in supporting those platforms will be a very important theme going into the future.

Last but not least, think of it as workspace of the future enabled by Internet of Things, enabled by the fact that pretty much anything and everything around us increasingly gets some compute capacity and internet connectivity and the amazing things that you can do with that at the workspace.

Is there a way to make the Citrix footprint light enough that you can virtualize and bring your capabilities to bear in the Internet of Things environment?

One thing that we’re doing related to that is working with some of our partners, ViewSonic being one of them, to put Citrix capability on Raspberry Pi. Essentially, Citrix is being delivered on a chip, a Citrix receiver, which enables a Raspberry Pi device to be fully connected to the rest of the enterprise environment. That opens up tremendous thin client opportunity where you basically get your thin client for under $100, Citrix full radio on it. It’s ready to run all of your apps. It’s ready to support whatever devices you connect to that.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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