Citrix buys Dropbox-like company "ShareFile." All eyes on Palo Alto to see what Citrix will do next.

Yesterday Citrix announced that it bought a file-sharing company called "Sharefile." Citrix claims Sharefile is like a corporate version Dropbox or Box, though I've yet to find anyone who's ever heard of them.

Yesterday Citrix announced that it bought a file-sharing company called "Sharefile." Citrix claims Sharefile is like a corporate version Dropbox or Box, though I've yet to find anyone who's ever heard of them. Citrix is creating a new "Data Sharing Group" in the company which will include Sharefile as well as whatever products Citrix creates for their "follow me" data strategy.

You may recall back at Synergy that Citrix announced plans to integrate existing cloud data services like Dropbox & Box into the Citrix receiver clients. At the time I thought this was great. "Why reinvent the wheel with a proprietary cloud data product? Why try to compete with Dropbox? Way to go!" Here's what I wrote during the Synergy Opening keynote live blog:

Now the next questions that people ask is "What happens to the data? Sure I have all my apps in one place, but for data?" Announcement: Follow-me Data. Users have datacenter data, local data, and cloud data. So Citrix wants to let IT say "Yes" to all of these types of data, but it involves security, syncing, policies, remote wipe, policies, collaboration, etc. They need to focus on data on access, data in transit, and data at rest. This seems cool.. Wonder how it works? Demo time again... There's a new button in Citrix Receiver for "Data." And clicking that shows folders for Dropbox, Enterprise data, and Box.net folders. Citrix will encrypt certain areas of the drives (like for data only), while leaving the rest alone. This is really cool too. I love that Citrix isn't trying to "own" the data sync, but that they're also leveraging these cloud data providers. Whoa.. it works on the iPad too? With completely local offline secure data? Man that's cool. You can click on a Word doc on the iPad, and if you're connected it will launch a published app copy of Word which will reach into the local storage of the iPad to open that file in Word running in the datacenter.We need to dig into that! I wonder if all versions of Receiver (i.e. Mac!) will support all of this? If so.. nice work Citrix!

I guess Citrix providing this service is okay as long as they continue to integrate with other data services too.

Citrix has announced that the goals of the new Data Sharing group will be:

  • Make common data services like search, share, sync, secure, authenticate, open and preview available to a wide range of applications, services and use cases through a set of open APIs.
  • Extend secure data sharing services to new and existing apps stored in public and private clouds and accessed from millions of different business and consumer devices.
  • Connect data seamlessly to the way people collaborate today, ensuring that the right documents and files are always accessible when needed, and always up to date.

Leaders  & followers. (Or is it followers & leaders?)

Is Citrix's acquisition of Sharefile the logical extension of their Follow-me data plan? Or a reaction to VMware?

In August, VMware previewed a technology they're calling "Octopus" which is like their cloud-based data service to compete with Dropbox in the enterprise. At first I thought Octopus was stupid because it's a service that people would buy from VMware, so I thought (again), "Why is VMware getting into that shitty direct-to-customer service base?" But VMware representatives explained that the initial version of Octopus would be hosted by VMware just to get it into the market fast and to work out the kinks, but ultimately it will be built on their vCloud platform and could be hosted, packaged, and sold by any vCloud provider. So that means a German-based provider could offer Octopus capabilities to German customers which would meet specific German laws, or even that companies could use the vCloud stuff running in their own datacenters to run their own internal Octopus services.

Ok, so I get it with Octopus. That's cool.

So now back to Citrix, I guess they think that's cool too. I would imagine they'd do something similar, like maybe they continue to sell Sharefile direct to the public (probably via the Citrix Online brand), but then they could also allow service providers to end customers to create their own Sharefile-based environments.

What do you think?

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I left Citrix 5 years ago to found a cloud startup but even back then I was banging on at them about providing their products as a service — they had just acquired the expertise via ExpertCity but were very careful about going into competition with their partners (as we are at Equinix).


This is yet another great example of Mark pulling rabbits out of his hat, and one that I think they will be well rewarded for (moreso than some of the other acquisitions anyway). I think it's good that they got one of the underdogs (I hadn't heard of them until now) rather than paying a premium for an established brand, because now they can roll it into their product portfolio and push it out through their extensive channel, offering a recurring revenue share on sales (at least that's what I'd do).


The real question is, is this the start of a new strategy for Citrix — going into the game of providing services rather than products (which is essentially all that cloud computing is), and if so, how will this affect their other business units?


VDI for example has been coming under fire from the likes of fellow ex-Citrite Simon Crosby ("VDwhy?") and myself ("VDI: Virtually Dead Idea"), but I made the caveat that it may make sense for services provided directly to end users who demand more isolation and configurability rather than enterprises who require collaboration and consistency. Could Citrix eventually go into the provision of desktops as a service?


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The question I have is, will enterprises move their data into these types of services? Their current data is spread all over the place and it's hard to prescribe to end users, application developers etc to use a single service for data. It's the vertical stack lock-in vs. horizontal choice argument.


Time will tell, however I think data will become increasingly important. As for vendor strategy shift, I'd say simpler less sophisticated products and services will become the norm. This IMHO will mean two things, enterprise customers simplify their requirements (I find that hard to believe given security/compliance/complexity of real life deployment) or enterprises build their own add ons by leveraging API's.


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From a context of mobile devices, I hope they will be able to persuade all the developers of native apps to integrate with this solution; Dropbox integration is very common already, so it will be hard to convince the consumers in the enterprise to switch to another product (which potentially is more complex to use, might not integrate with their favorite apps, ...). From a desktop perspective, I don't really see the point -- many solutions exist already for that...


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I tweeted about this yesterday and do not see the world rushing out to move their data from DropBox and Box.Net. Share…who? Nobody has ever heard of them, Citrix is not known in the mind of the end user as anything but an often painful or subpar remote access solution that hangs, freezes etc. Sure that's changing as virtual desktops enable new use cases that solve real business problems. I'll go off at a tangent and state that Simon Crosby and Sam J are both wrong it their dismissal of virtual desktops and don't really have the experience to consider the real business benefits of use in real life implementations, nor does Sam J fully appreciate all that sucks about published apps and shared infrastructure. Simon of course also wants to focus things back to client side security, what do you think Bromium does……?


Back to the point. I'd agree this is a shift in what Citrix is trying to be, well at least at extension. I am fine with that, but what concerns me the most is the focus away from solving enterprise. For years I have screamed about quality of the product, lack of true management features, too many ad-hoc poorly tested updates,  risk of shared infrastructure which should be mitigated away from with things like HDX Connect as a feature and  secure Reverse Seamless to deal with exception apps. None of this has come to market and it's forced many to use work arounds or build their own lowering the need for some of these things. What that's resulted in is less value in what Citrix actually does. All they really do best is the protocol/HDX remote user experience. As we move forward, they are now making bets in things like RingCube layers that don't solve the problem of enterprise management and will not work on RDS so it just complicates matters further. Citrix simply does not get the enterprise anymore and that leads me to a broken organization that lacks leadership and then data.


The Product Management and GM of XenDesktop have been a multi year disaster. They whacked the GM a while back once major damage was already done, but the driver of the car that awful PM was  put in charge. As customers all we hear is excuses on why features are 6 quarters out, fake promises and bad quality without any real understanding of what's going on and how to solve it. Raise issues to the exec SVP level and you get nothing concrete back, and empty promises from an empty suit. Bubble up to Templeton, gets pushed back to SVP empty suit and then Templeton just tweaks the vision at the next Synergy (which he is very good at BTW). It's all about execution and enabling customers. Citrix does not do that well and is too slow and is loosing it's mojo. They are trying to act like Apple without any quality while saying we love Microsoft and now kissing also kissing Cisco and Google ass. It's becoming laughable. Citrix Receiver, really! vs. solving the backend stuff that drives it. Lipstick on a pig infrastructure with no management and the whole iPad is just bright red lipstick on a fat chick. Reality check, remote ICA/RDP/PCoIP is a $hitty experience (this is where perhaps Bromium securing local mobile apps will be useful). Receiver and HDX of iPad etc is a gimmick and nobody really wants to use it unless they are stuck. So what's happened with all this "progress"? They smashed the cloud and desktop groups under the same empty suite and now I hear the PM is doing the data thing working for Templeton. Are people blind? Now a new team is being put in place and all the reeducation push from the customer to vendor has to start again. Other people who used to get it are also gone so it's become a nightmare and Sam J is exactly right that this is a shift in strategy.


A shift in strategy, as pointed out above to simpler services that will force enterprises into a choice, and yes we will have to build our own and hence things like HDXConnect are important so customers or other 3rd parties can build our own management infrastructure that Citrix has no clue about or desire to execute upon. GoToMeeting is actually ok, but is an enterprise really going to use it's lacks to features to enable data leakage. No. Citrix can simply take the position F off go elsewhere which is exactly what the GoTo team will tell you in a nice way. That is where GoToMyData is also going.  My users will still use DropBox they don't give a damn about Share….who? In the enterprise I have sunk cost in existing data solutions and will have to deal with many data repositories. This shift in strategy even though I am fine with it sends a clear message. True enterprise customers can't marry vertical vendors stacks or they will get F'ed. Big vendors are not going to build enterprise features and idiots at those vendors don't get what it takes. Citrix is not an enterprise player, its vision heavy and we'll hear more of it at Synergy. XenDesktop is the perfect example of how bad it really is and how slow the adoption is because Citrix allowed it self to forget that it's about the management and winning there in the enterprise. I except more of the same, especially with low IQ leadership and a blind CEO who's compelling vision is so far removed from execution reality….

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I think there's a potential huge opportunity here to offer a private cloud (ok on premise data center hosted) version of this solution for large enterprise.  Many big companies are still very uneasy with sticking all of their data in a public cloud SaaS offering.  There certainly are some companies that are doing this, but I think opening up a good solution that supports on promise could be huge for enterprises that are unwilling to stick their toes into the perceived risky waters that is public cloud.


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@Shawn


Also extending that line of thinking the very large companies are looking at Community Clouds, so this would be a good fit there. For example, the Government Community Clouds that are starting to form in the US and Canada.


communitycloud.eventbrite.com


cloudbestpractices.net/.../shared-services-canada


www.cio.gov/.../25-point-implementation-plan-to-reform-federal%20it.pdf


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> Yesterday Citrix announced that it bought a file-sharing company called "Sharefile." Citrix claims Sharefile is like a corporate version Dropbox or Box, though I've yet to find anyone who's ever heard of them.


I think you need to get out a little bit more Brian. 99% of Fortune 500 companies and over 3 million users.


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From a Citrix Service Provider's (CSP) perspective, this adds some value to the user experience.  One thing that comes to mind is data upload from the client's device to the CSP Cloud.  Citrix has the client drive virtual channel, but this can be confusing to end users and isn't optimized for file transfer.  If the CSP subscriber had a special place to put files on their workstation that just "magically" showed up in the CSP cloud, that would be cool.  Also, making these files offline accessible on mobile devices is a somewhat marginal win as well.  Overall, I think we'll see a Citrix Receiver plugin for this technology and hopefully an on-premise version like @Shawn Bass eludes to.


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Have to agree with all the comments above. Especially appdetective and Jason Conger.


Citrix sometimes seems to be a 'two-speed' company. There's the high quality products like XenApp, AccessGateway and Netscaler (and XenServer) and then there's all this 'new' stuff like Receiver + Receiver Infrastructure, Syncrhonizer, etc. The new stuff is quite terrible when it comes to product quality and enterprise feature requirements. And the overall enterprise architecture for all these new components is absolutely unclear and very vague. So, yes, Enterprises will be easily put off by some of the products, while Service Providers might be more willing to adopt the new solutions because it means they can sell more 'value-add' services to their customers.


Citrix really needs to come up with a clear strategy for developing new products through the product lifecycle. Ironically, MetaFrame had these lifecyle issues in the early 2000's, when each new GA release was really more like a public beta. They've addressed this with XenApp Tech Previews a little bit now. The Tech Preview program is still miles behind what Microsoft does with their CTP programs.


As long as Citrix doesn't cannibalize their cash cows, everything should be alright though. ;)


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@ Harry. I don't quite get your point. Where is there any evidence of "vendor" lock in?


Secondly users are already moving to this model whether IT likes it or not. IT trying to control everything and lock it down (or block every single service at the firewall) is a 1980's strategy and even in China for example many employees use Facebook despite the Govt preventing it. There are ways around everything and ultimately it is a battle between consumer and enterprise. So the question around "will enterprises move their data to these types of services?".... I think this is misleading because consumers will drive the change regardless of whether IT or enterprise want it or not.


Last time I checked consumers are winning this battle. 2 years ago so many companies said "no way will I let an iPAD be used as a corporate device"...


Now look.


The same will happen here, its inevitable


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@Marek You're miss understanding my point so let me explain in a little more detail.


I doubt you put your personal details up in DropBox etc. If you do, then you are:


1) Not the sharpest tool in the shed.


2) Naive (most consumers).


If my personal data, health data, financial data, children's data etc ended up in a consumer service and leaked I would hit the roof and demand answers. People can go to jail, loose their license to practice etc for carelessly ignoring data leakage. It will also destroy reputations of organizations and financially this will be disastrous with real consequences for business leadership.


Consumerization is a term that is being thrown around by vendors very loosely, just like cloud and VDI and misunderstood by many. Consumerization can't mean irresponsibility. So it's time to get realistic about security/compliance and consumerization. There have been plenty of highly public incidents that tell us as the world becomes become more interconnected security will need to rethought and certainly can't be an after thought.


I agree when you say it's happening all around us, people are putting their data in DropBox etc. However I think rather that simply dismissing it and stating you can't stop it, ask why? I don't believe end users want to go to jail, loose data etc. What they are rebelling against is old IT mind set that makes it hard.  I wrote a little about this in Forbes. www.forbes.com/.../does-it-still-matter


This leads me to my next point. As people begin to consume these services they will require different levels of security and compliance. These SaaS providers will be stuck with good enough and that will only go so far. For good enough you will have to assume that many enterprises will migrate existing data to good enough solutions. I doubt that will happen. It will also be the case IMO that end users will want to use many types of data services and this will mean that IT will need to understand how to aggregate these services and determine how to make it easy to consume these types of services while governing data. Chaos in the data world is a recipe for disaster and does not consider privacy seriously enough.  Loose my personal data and I don't give a S..t about consumerization. People care about privacy and it's the law in many enterprise use cases.


With all this I personally don't believe a single data solution is going to cut the mustard. If I was still in IT, there is no way I would want to lock into a single SaaS type solution and trust that all my data compliance features are going to be available. I am likely to want to keep much of the data in house for a long time as a result. So vertical stack lock in is a big concern, and granted that good enough in many use cases is still fine for some. Choice of solutions with a more open approach and a way to aggregate them is what IT will need IMHO.


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I meant misunderstanding :-) Need more coffee!


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@ Simon "I think you need to get out a little bit more Brian. 99% of Fortune 500 companies and over 3 million users."


I feel lucky, I'm at 1 of 5 organizations without ShareFile.


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@Dan


You're more lucky than you know. If Simon was quoting Wikipedia then your odds are even less...


"Over 99% of the Fortune 500 uses ShareFile for secure file transfer."


en.wikipedia.org/.../ShareFile


Maybe they are being generous?


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What is the Citrix strategy? FileSharing? Cloud? Device Interconnectivity? Access from Anywhere? Data Sharing? Remote desktop access (aka VDI/HDV)? How do these pieces combine to deliver buyers and users key value-props? Will Synergy be renamed to XenScape?


I have mixed emotions about Citrix at this point and really need to be convinced they understand the enterprise market shift as well as their general partner requirements. Their marketing teams have created great naming conventions but have not help create great “integrated” products.


This is an open challenge to the architects and engineers at Citrix (and partner companies) to design products that are cohesive, integrated, and cost-effective.


It is silly that this is taking so long. Citrix has corporate stickiness, but like any other technology, there is always another option. Shift Happens.


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Regarding the statement "Over 99% of the Fortune 500 uses ShareFile for secure file transfer," that's a classic example from How to Lie with Statistics. Remember that only a single user at a Fortune 500 company has to use Fileshare for it to count. So as long as at least one random lone wolf setup a fileshare account from at least 491 of the F500 companies, then it's true. But it could also mean that Sharefile only has a few thousand actual users out of the 50 million people who work for the F500.


I hear this same *** for people talking about how popular desktop virtualization is. They'll use statistics like "95% of F500 companies use VDI." Which is probably true, because one user out of 100,000 running a VDI session means that company uses VDI.


Well, either that, or yeah, I don't get out much. BTW, I have not been home the entire month of October yet.


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@Brian i agree with you on ShareFile and lying with numbers. i had never heard of it either and when the announcement came out i had the same reaction: Who the heck are they?


BUT


I disagree with you on the Desktop virtualization rehtoric, it's getting old dude. DV is being implemented, i know because of how many we are doing. I have a suggestion for you though, in the past you did a 1 month experiment on VDI, let's do a similar one, how about you come out to Chicago for a week or 2 and i will take you around the different customers where DV has been deployed and you can see for yourself.


A lot of customers who went through a Windows 7 deployment and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on SCCM and other technologies are even re-evaluating their mess.


So is it being deployed? absolutely, is it en masse? to every user, no, but it is most certainly being deployed.


I have 1000 user to 5000 user deployments, take your pick


Eli


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I have to agree with AppDetective on one of his minor points.


Citrix should invest their spare cash on improving product quality, integration and enterprise readiness, not buying yet more bits and pieces to fill perceived gaps in their solution.  Maybe the additional 'bits and pieces' are necessary and I can see a space for ShareFile, but they need to start spendng on things closer to home!!


Some would say that many of Citrix's acquisitions over the last 10 years have been visionary, and had these been seamlessly integrated and coded to reach their full potential as part of the Citrix desktop/application virtualisation vision this would indeed be the case.


Unfortunately, the Citrix vision now looks like a 17 year old teenagers jalopy, lots of spoilers, lights and stickers whcih hide the inadequacies of the 'vision' the vehicle owner has, he looks at his car and sees a Ferrari.


I spend my life trying to stick bits of Citrix together, constantly fumbling and falling over inadequate and incorrect documentation, product bugs, product integration issues, marketing uber-hype, scalability issues and enterprise readiness issues.


Someone at the helm needs to take a long hard look at the Citrix stack and realise that it is not a Ferrari...it has the potential, but is far from reaching it.


A customer said to me once that one of Citrix's products was 5h1t,  but it was the best 5h1t out there, a backhanded compliment which just about sums things up perfectly for me!!


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