Delivering Work-Life Harmony through Enabling Technology
Citrix calls it Life Slicing, a form of work-life harmony. And it is on a relentless pursuit of creating continuities between devices, location, apps, data, events and culture irrespective of place, time and environment. Mark Templeton, CEO says that he and his team are busy designing solutions that create customer experiences that will differentiate Citrix from its competitors and in the process reduce cost and increase simplicity for end-users.
It is not an easy objective to achieve. However it is the right objective. Citrix is either a leader in some categories or second in others and a relatively new entrant in yet other areas. It is confident that a focus on delighting the customer with tools that conform to the way end-users work in a multi-modal collaborative world, pining for utmost simplicity will make Citrix the winner.
To achieve its vision, Citrix has set its eyes on six key areas.
- Social Collaboration: with carefully selected and integrated product line consisting of – GoToMeeting, GoToTraining, GoToAssist, GoToWebinar, ShareFile and Podio. While GoToMeeting was Citrix’s first foray into collaboration (when collaboration was not yet a must have), recent acquisition Podio extends the collaboration to teams.
- Data Sharing: ShareFile is Citrix’s answer to enterprise-grade Dropbox that Citrix hopes will win on security, ease of use and customer service. ShareFile enables employees to send, share, sync files with business features such as follow-me data, access from any device, encrypted in transit and at rest, remote wipe and account locking.
- Enterprise Mobility: a strategy built on Citrix Receiver, a client software app that allows access to data, apps from any device for the unbridled, fast growing BYOD market. Citrix Receiver uses XenApp and XenDesktop to deliver self-service apps and data to over 3 billion devices. Add to it CloudGateway for provisioning that is identity-based, scenario-based and secure serving of data on apps whether the device is windows, mobile, web or HTML5.
- Windows-as-a-Service: an area which is the bread and butter of Citrix, a leader in the space with maximum number of products – XenDesktop, XenApp, XenClient, VDI-in-a-Box. Citrix is furiously working on delivering Windows apps and desktops as a true cloud service. RingCube and Kaviza acquisitions helped Citrix accelerate its presence in the VDI marketplace and eliminated the trade-offs with VDI to allow both shared and fixed desktops to be managed. In addition its HDX technology aims to deliver high-definition virtualization experience and its FlexCast delivery technology makes possible individual user configuration.
- Cloud Networking: echoing the thoughts of many others that the future network will be fast and flat Citrix is betting on NetScaler, ByteMobile and CloudBridge solutions to deliver a network fabric that meets or exceeds the demands of a mobile world with ever-growing bandwidth requirements from devices, data and applications that are in constant motion.
- Cloud Platforms: staking on its belief that Open platforms will win, Citrix has CloudStack addressing the needs of both traditional and cloud workloads. Specifically, Citrix has also rolled out a Cloud Portal specifically designed for service providers that is a single self-service interface for cloud deployments.
Routes-to-Market for SMBs
The channel comprising of VARs, Systems Integrators (SIs), dealers, resellers and retailers form the essential cogs of an IT vendor’s eco-system that puts products and solutions in the hands of the customers. This is particularly true in the small and medium business market (SMB) where the vast majority of opportunity can only be addressed through the channel. Selling direct is not economical. So it makes complete sense that Citrix is trying to find ways to engage and involve the channel in their cloud efforts. With over 10,000 channel partners globally Citrix is concentrating on three different yet complementary efforts: 1/ Strengthen the VAR and SP channels; 2/ Build strategic alliances; 3/ Reach the SMB channels. The third point is most noticeable as Citrix has launched two new channel programs:
- SMB Specialist
- Cloud Advisor
SMBs have made the leap to cloud-based infrastructure and will rapidly move to multiple services that leverage their investments. The new solution stack is virtual and relatively standalone at this point; the next stage will require integration of more complex applications. As new Cloud Services are rolled out it will not be possible for most SMBs to maintain the internal expertise to make the most appropriate choices. Helping customers emerge without being overwhelmed and providing relevant knowledge of how to effectively apply the new technology will strengthen the SMB customer-channel-vendor relationship. And Citrix is building that channel handbook to enable its partners to be those trusted advisors.
In addition it has developed and released a Partner 360 Dashboard with real-time analytics. Its channel measurement and incentive metrics are based both on fulfillment and influence. Borrowing a leaf from the SMB transformation phenomenon, Citrix is enabling its partners to shift their focus from just operating to implementing and therefore helping them define their respective roles in the cloud.
SMBs are going through a transformation in terms of their work style, behavior and IT usage. Citrix is addressing the transformation. SMBs traditionally started off their journey into IT unknowingly using single building block concepts. The process for an SMB growth and its relative steps to absorb IT were steady and predictable. Some SMBs stacked their blocks faster than the others but the steps to get to the top block were always the same.
Enter flat IT. Cloud, mobility, virtualization, managed services have effectively toppled the blocks down in one fell swoop and have laid everything flat on the table. SMBs have moved from enablement to empowerment. Now it is not a race to the top, but how can an SMB reach its full potential in the shortest period of time. The process of an SMB’s growth and steps to absorb IT are no longer steady and predictable.
The SMBs are looking for value shift, moving from enablement to empowerment. They have moved from individual productivity to group productivity. Work from anywhere, anytime is more prevalent today than ever before. SMBs are no longer clustered in one location. It took 10 years for percentage of SMBs allowing telecommuting to double itself but only 3 years to again double to reach 77% in the US. The average number of locations has gone up from 1.05 to 1.85 in 5 years. Another important number to note – 15% of SMB employees always work from home, that is, 11 million SMB employees. SMB executives have also accepted work at home culture. And they see it as a benefit for the company as well as employees. 46% agree that it benefits companies, 37% say that tasks can be accomplished from anywhere. And 28% say that the technology used by employees is more advanced than that offered by workplace. It is known as Consumerization of IT but it has implications on how IT is absorbed and how IT vendors offer support and training. SMBs use multiple devices & applications to collaborate when traveling or telecommuting, many of which did not exist 5 years ago. Mobility is at the SMB doorstep.
To address the SMB transformation Citrix has it all: Collaboration, Data sharing, Mobility, Virtualization and even flavors of managed services. In the process, it is introducing simplicity and mobility along with driving down the cost. But what about the routes-to-SMB-customer? This is where Citrix has some work to do. Recognizing the shortcoming, Citrix has launched a somewhat thought out campaign to serve the needs of the channel partners that cater to the SMB community. What it already has in its favor is the tail wind. But any fellow traveler can easily testify that the tail wind can turn into a head wind. Citrix has its work cut out for itself, making sure that the channel partner tail wind is maintained.