We've been dancing around this issue for a few weeks in various articles on BrianMadden.com, so today I want to address it head on: Citrix needs to enter the DaaS market with a direct offering to compete against VMware Horizon DaaS, AWS WorkSpaces, and (potentially) Microsoft's Mohoro!
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On Monday I wrote about VMware launching their own hosted DaaS offering starting at around $35 per user per month. (That article, by the way, set the record for the most page views on the first day, with over 8,000 views and 450 social shares 24 hours after posting it.)
Last Friday I wondered whether Citrix was suffering for not having a true multi-tenant offering for cloud providers, and yesterday I wrote about Citrix's woes around trying to get customers to migrate to XenApp 7.5 from XenApp 6.5 and earlier. (An article which itself got over 3,000 page views and 70 social shares in the first 24 hours, well above our average.)
For today's story, I want to focus on a comment AppDetective posted on the VMware DaaS article, quoting (in part):
No doubt in my mind Citrix will have to bring out a cloud version to counter this [VMware Horizon DaaS]. They can't afford to lose mindshare or be a MS puppet. The Citrix plan to enable service providers is not going to work long term. Whomever controls solutions end to end is much better positioned to squeeze out margins. . . . Good for VMware getting there first, I continue to enjoy watching them b-slap Citrix who are asleep at the wheel. Not sure how much the CEO limbo situation is holding them back.
I think the 'Cloud computing company that enables mobile workstyles' needs to invest a a lot more in Cloud and give us a little more faith that they are serious about this stuff. Try plugging Cloud Platform, Cloud Portal and App Orchestration together and see how serious you think these guys are about providing a cohesive end to end solution.
I'm sure XenApp/XenDesktop 7.5 will fix all of this though. We now have one console for XA/XD, but Cloud enabling this little lot still involves the addition of at least eleventy-two more consoles !!
Does Citrix have what it takes to directly offer DaaS to customers?
A few people have commented that Citrix doesn't have the experience to run their own massive cloud. Maybe that's true, though someone else wrote (or Tweeted? I can't find it now) that Citrix already operates a $1B+ cloud business with the Citrix Online (GoToMeeting, etc.) services, so clearly they have some experience running this type of environment. They could also buy an existing cloud hosting provider to jumpstart their entry into the space.
The bigger question is whether they have the willpower to do it. AppDetective's question about whether their CEO limbo situation is holding them back is a good point. Citrix becoming a cloud provider is a huge change for them, and I don't know if it's something Mark Templeton could do as a lame duck CEO. ("Hey guys, we're totally changing everything here... Okay good luck! I'm out!")
Can Citrix afford not to get into the cloud hosting business?
In the desktop space, AWS is already perceived as a juggernaut in the DaaS industry and they haven't even launched their product yet! And VMware's vCHS offering is great. People love the way it seamlessly integrates with existing on-premises vCenter environments. So VMware is rapidly becoming a juggernaut too. And if Microsoft launches Mohoro, they'll be in the juggernaut category too.
So where's this leave Citrix? They're just a software company making DaaS solutions for others? Seriously? (Obviously everything here also applies to more general IaaS and PaaS offerings, which Citrix could offer too. Or maybe that means they would compete too much with Microsoft with Azure?)
The trust that comes with a Citrix-delivered DaaS solution
One of the things that Gabe and I talk about in our book about DaaS (you've read it, right? :) is that it's a challenge to pick a provider you trust, both from a security standpoint and from a "they won't go out of business" standpoint. One of the realities is that bigger companies are easier to trust and they have the economies of scale to offer the cheapest prices. Right now VMware and AWS have that going for them. That old adage about "No one ever got fired for buying IBM" applies here, too. I can't imagine anyone going wrong if they choose VMware or AWS for their DaaS.
But what if you want to buy DaaS running on a Citrix-based platform? If you ask, "Who do you recommend for DaaS?" Citrix will point you to a CSP reference website that literally has more than 2600 providers, 2580 of which you've never heard of. It's a "paradox of choice" situation. You look at that website for awhile before thinking, "Yeah screw this, I'm just buying from VMware."
Actually, it isn't even that easy to find the list of Citrix DaaS providers. Consider the following Google searches and their first hits:
[vmware daas] -> http://www.vmware.com/products/daas
[amazon daas] -> http://aws.amazon.com/workspaces/
[citrix daas] -> http://www.citrix.com/solutions/desktop-as-a-service/overview.html
The VMware and AWS sites have links to videos and to sign up right there on the spot. But the Citrix site? It's about why partners should choose Citrix's DaaS platform to host their cloud offerings. But what if I'm a customer who just wants to buy DaaS? I click "Start Now"... No, wait, that page is about how to become a partner to host DaaS. Okay, so I go back a page and scroll down... keep scrolling. Ah! There it is. "Are you a customer looking for hosted services? Find a service provider in the Citrix partner locator by selecting the hosting provider tab."
So I click that link and now have to click the "Hosting Provider" tab. And.. what? I have to know the partner name to search for? Eh, how about if I just click "search?" No, that doesn't work. Okay, apparently I have to select my country. Fine. Select "USA." Now I want to find DaaS partners, so I click the "Partner Type" and the only option there is "Citrix Service Provider." Okay, so that's not helpful at all. Whatever, I'll just click "Search," and... Whoa! 719 found.
What the hell am I supposed to do now? Start with the first one and just start calling them one-by-one to see if they offer DaaS?
Yeah, you know what I'm actually going to do? I'm going to try out VMware or AWS!
Citrix needs to wake up. This partner thing has a lot of advantages, but every day that passes where Citrix isn't hosting this stuff directly is a day that VMware and AWS get more customers. So what's their move?