In January, Provision Networks (now part of Quest Software) scored big time when Jeff Pitsch and Patrick Rouse, two well-known Citrix CTPs (and past BriForum presenters) joined the company. Provision has just scored again, this time with another two guys who are well-known to the community: Michel Roth and Rick Mack.
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As I've written in the past, Provision Networks has a long way to go if they want to catch up to Citrix. But they also have some really cool features that Citrix doesn't have (like offering VDI and Terminal Services-based SBC in the same product), and certainly being part of Quest will help. Worst case, a little competition helps keep everyone on their feet.
Let's take a closer look at Provision's two newest employees:
- A closer look at Session Broker load balancing in Windows Server 2008
- New Features in Presentation Server "Delaware"
Rick Mack was a Citrix CTP, althought most people know him from his frequent postings to the THIN email list and to our forum. He's presented at four of the five BriForums, and as I've written before, Rick's BriForum presentations have received feedback along the lines of "The best session I've ever seen at any conference in my entire life." (This was an actual comment!)
- BriForum 2005 video of Rick Mack discussing application tuning and debugging for Terminal Servers
- BriForum 2006 video of Rick Mack talking about his "application toolkit" for Terminal Services
- A BriForum 2006 Europe podcast with Rick Mack talking about Terminal Server application compatibility tricks
Rick is a very modest guy. But I'm not. :) So I'm happy to tell everyone that he's one of the most brilliant people I've met. While some people are talking about Acrobat being slow in Terminal Server, Rick's posting to email lists about how you can use a resource hacker to remove features from the EXE to speed it up. :)
News of Rick joining Provision was made public today in a post he sent to the THIN email list. Rick answered someone's question, and Joe Shonk (another BriForum presenter) noticed, "Hey, his email signature says 'Provision Networks.'" Joe responded to the group email asking Rick what the deal was and joked that it must have been for a lot of money. This was Rick's response:
From: Rick Mack
Reply-To: < email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2008 19:58:44 -0600
To: < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [THIN] Re: PSE450R01W2K3005.msp
I got offered a job by Provision and after a lot of soul searching, I took it. And believe it or not it wasn't about money.
But it was one of the harder decisions I've had to make.
Resigning as a CTP was nearly impossible. I really really admire the other CTPs and feel they're about the best bunch of people around. And of course there's always the ego bit.
Then there was Citrix.
I've been supporting Citrix products since 1993 (Winview) and having the opportunity to actually try and make a difference as a CTP was just incredible. And the Citrix people who encouraged and supported the CTP program have just been terrific, especially Brad Nunn.
I hope I was able to help in some of the changes we've seen in Citrix in terms of it's connection with the Citrix user and reseller community, but there was also a lot of frustration.
My gut feeling is that Citrix are awfully close to losing the plot from a TS/SBC perspective. There are so many things in the present TS product that could be fixed with just a bit of extra effort that aren't going to be because so much of Citrix' energy is being absorbed into their new acquisitions. Some of the new stuff (Xen, provisioning server etc) is more than cool, once it's properly integrated and ready for serious use.
As negative examples, until fairly recently, the whole of Citrix' printer subsystem development was being done solely by Gary Barton. There are the 2 management consoles, the incomplete mfcom apis, non-existent Palm/Blackberry synchronization, USB redirection etc. Of course it'll all going be fixed in the Server 2008 product, maybe, but a lot of the additional functionality will be provided by Microsoft rather than Citrix.
Citrix are desperately trying to re-invent themselves, and I still remember Novell doing the same thing 12 years ago. How can you justify losing focus on a product core that's generating more that 3/4s of your income?
Of course there's always Platinum edition, but what about the advanced and enterprise customers, what are they getting?
Sorry. it's probably not appropriate to be voicing my frustrations like this, but I felt you deserved a decent explanation.
I guess I came to realise that my allegience wasn't so much to Citrix but rather you guys (and girls) and the SBC community and technologies. And Citrix has had such a central role.
So why did I go to Provision?
The "fatal" hook was being offered the opportunity to get involved in really helping to set the direction of the product.
Imagine being able to ask for an enhancement and watching it happen.
Imagine having a customer or reseller come to you with a requirement for something special and being able to develop and deliver what they need.
Imagine putting together an SBC product that will have ALL the bells and whistles. No third party add-ons needed to fix stuff that has been "broken" forever.
Provision are far from perfect, their support forums suck, they've been so focussed on R&D and pushing out a good product that a lot of other little things have suffered.
But now that Quest is in the mix, we've got the resources to fix things up and maybe make something really special. Some of the stuff coming out in the next few months should really make people sit up and take notice.
Anyway, I'm not leaving, just wearing a different logo on my shirt. My heart is still in the same place and I hope I can still contribute something useful.
Oh, and I'll try to avoid mentioning that "we can do that" too often ;-)
Provision networks Division