Tim Mangan is at the Citrix Summit this week. Citrix runs the Summit is yearly to update their partners on upcoming product changes. While this is an NDA event, preventing reporting on much of the details, there still is much to talk about this week.
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This is the second Citrix Summit event of the year. Because Citrix chose to move Synergy (the conference formerly known as iForum) from the fall into the spring this year (presumably to get it away from VMworld), Summit has moved from a January event to be in the fall, this year from October 25 - 28th. This makes for a lot of Citrix conferences in the last 12 months, but there is also a heck of a lot that Citrix is doing so its not so bad. The event is being held at the Dolphin in Orlando Florida.
Additional posts on this event:
Day 1 Post(below)
Today is the first official day of the conference. Yesterday, after a half day of technical sessions we had a welcoming reception on the show floor, and an opportunity to meet with some of the exhibiters.
It always seems odd to have an exhibit floor at a show without end-user customers. Most of the sponsors have "complementary" products and are either are looking to expand their reseller/var network. The year brings a few new names to the floor. Some are new companies while others were just "new to me". I will cover as many as I can in these posts over the next few days.
There are probably a few less people here this week than in the past - maybe two thirds what I remember from the past, but that is not bad considering that this is the second Summit event of the year.
For me, having skipped Synergy, this was an opportunity to catch up with the plans I heard about in January (but couldn't write about due to NDA) that have slid out into the market in between. In my mind, the most important of these is the branding of the "Branch Repeater". The Branch Repeater may be nothing more than the branch end of an implementation using NetScaler . But the concept sounds well and should play better in the market than "you need a pair of boxes to speed up the WAN".
Also of note to me is what is happening with the Citrix Ready program. Citrix long ago abandoned working with ISVs to make applications compatible with Citrix. Maybe they thought they all worked. That doesn't mean that the need went away. I am contacted all the time by ISVs needing help with their applications needing to work on "that Citrix thing". But Citrix has been quietly working with ISV vendors for the last year with the Citrix Ready program (www.citrix.com/ready) and is now moving forward with the Citrix Community to become involved in certifying applications as well.
At the opening keynote, CEO Mark Templeton had the difficult task of telling the VAR/Reseller community to sell more product in a likely down economy. In a time of shrinking budgets and cancelled plans there will be far fewer opportunities, but no doubt they will exist. CTOs (often) understand that now is the right time to examine their operations and look for opportunities to simplify the back end of their operations in order to set themselves up for the growth that will follow the following year(s). Tapping into those inclinations will be important for the VAR community to succeed, and Citrix does have a reasonable message to play into all of this. Of course, so will others… We had some nice demos, some of existing released products and some previewing future capabilities, but there was no earth-shattering wow shown today.
Here are a few of the vendors I met with last night. There are others I met with that I want to go back with a few more questions before posting, so stay tuned.
Accario. http://www.accario.com/ These guys have been in the security space and are known for their product "EPA Factory". What they have that is new (at least to me) is a product they call "Wrapter". Wrapter takes the technology of virtual applications and applies it to the components a client needs for Citrix access. Think of it like using ThinApp with the Citrix Client. Just one file that you can put on a USBstick or any storage device and have everything you need for access. In the demo I saw, they placed it on an iPhone as the storage device. Walk up to any PC and plug in your iPhone and you can now, without admin access to the PC, run the ICA client with security credentials or even stream apps and run them on the PC. The product is sold using two different models. One model is for companies that regularly use Citrix on a daily basis, and is per user. The other interesting model is much cheaper, but provides for a limited number of uses per year - targeting those that would use Citrix as a disaster incident backup access option.
App DNA. http://www.app-dna.com/ It is hard to believe that you can build a company around application compatibility, but here you have it. My partner Kevin Kaminski turned me on to these folks last summer. So let's say there is an end-user customer with a bunch of ugly in-house developed apps and they want to move to Citrix and contact a VAR to help. AppDNA targets the VAR/Reseller/Consultant community with a product , called "AppTitude Citrix Manager", that the VAR can use as the basis of a service for these customers. This service would analyze and verify applications for application compatibility issues using AppTitude. The App DNA software will analyze the msi or setup.exe and provide a scorecard showing at a high level if there are compatibility issues. Where there are issues, it does not tell you how to fix/work-around them, but at least you know what the issues are. The reports are "cool enough" looking to present to the end customer as part of the service. This analysis service would likely become the lead-in to providing a hard quotation on the overall project.
Redfly by Celio Corp. http://www.celiocorp.com/ Redfly is a small dumb terminal (6x9 inch and 1 inch think when closed) that provides a reasonable sized portable keyboard and screen to use with your mobile devices that are running things like the Citrix Client. Personally I'll continue to haul a real laptop around but for others perhaps hauling a small dumb device to connect to your phone makes sense.
Vasco Data Security. http://www.vasco.com/ The company is in the security space, with a two-factor authentication solution. They try to place themselves in the center of the Technology/Cost/Ease-Of-Use triangle. The company may not have any technical wow pieces, but has done a good job of making a workable solution for smaller less-it savvy customers. They even have a 5 user package.
VisionApp AG. http://www.visionapp.com/ These guys are fairly well known so I won't spend much time here. New for them is support for XenApp 5.0 and XenServer 5.0. They bought a company called mRemote which they think is really important but quite frankly I left the booth not knowing what it was (probably more my fault than theirs). They have updates to their web interface that allows you to use Flash or Silverlight for an improved UI experience for the end user.
I have been critical of Citrix's relationship with the ISV community over the last couple of years. I sense that Citrix may be turning a corner on managing these relationships. The question is whether they again really "get it" that these vendors are complimenting the Citrix solution even if they have a product that completes with a part of what Citrix sells. I can say that Citrix is making the right noises, but only time will tell. Citrix is certainly a big enough company that they should do better.
On the other hand, the Citrix commitment to their channel has been excellent for a long time. The growth, especially the acquisitions, force the company to change somewhat, but one senses a true commitment to the channel here. Clearly, they need a channel that is a "higher end" channel than what many of their resellers were a few years back. But to their credit they have been slowly pushing the channel to sell at a higher level - even somewhat training them on how to do so. Not all can make that transition, but they certainly have been given every opportunity to do so.