One of the cooler things that's happened for Citrix recently is that they've managed to hire Lee Rautenberg, the inventor of pcAnywhere, to join them as a principal software engineer. (This is actually pretty awesome and ironic, since back in the 1990s I described Citrix as "like pcAnywhere, except with multiple users accessing the same computer at the same time.") Citrix was very excited to have Lee come on board, and when he started they sort of asked him, "Ok, so what do you want to do first?" As I understand it (and of course this is second hand), Lee's response was basically, "Well I've always thought your client was s***, how about if I take a crack at fixing it?" (Of course I'm sure the actual conversation was much more politically correct, but that was the gist.)
Long story short, Lee's involvement in the client software ended up with it being rewritten as a multi-threaded application. (To be honest I never really even realized it wasn't multithreaded up until now.) Lee realized that many times when the client was just sitting there seemingly stuck, it wasn't actually the network or host being slow--it was due to some subroutine being stuck on the client. So fast-forward to today, we have the Citrix Receiver for Windows v13 beta client with Citrix "Mach 3" technology, including a multi-threaded client!
You'd think the story ends there with everyone being happy and giving Lee a bunch of high-fives, but there's actually more to the story.
Citrix to their CTPs: Do not disclose what's already public
On Thursday I tweeted about a video posted to Citrix TV of an interview that fellow CTP Robert Morris did with Lee Rautenberg about Lee's background and the new features of the new Citrix Receiver v13 client. It was a great interview and definitely worth watching. (A CTP is a "Citrix Technology Professional," a prominent member of the community whom Citrix recognizes and shares long term roadmaps and strategies with.)
Unfortunately the video was short-lived. Despite the fact that the video was shot at Citrix headquarters and posted on Citrix TV, one of the higher-ups at Citrix decided the video disclosed too much NDA information (specifically around how Mach 3 works and the planned release schedule) and they decided to pull the video. At this point, as you can imagine, the CTP mailing list popped with activity, with most of us reminding Citrix that you can't "delete" information off the Internet. I mean sure you can pull the video, but you there's no Men In Black neuralizer pen that will make everyone forget what they saw. And the video was 100% public. No logins or anything were required.
At this point I understand that s*** happens, and I'm actually ok with Citrix pulling the video. Sure some information got out, but whatever, it's their video and they can do what they want with it. Where it gets weird is that Citrix further asked the CTPs to not blog about the contents of the video. They reminded us that some information in the video that was disclosed is protected by the NDAs we signed with them, and that as such we're obligated not to talk about it. This seems totally crazy to me, because again that video was available to the whole-wide world for more than an hour, so it's weird that Citrix doesn't want us CTPs to blog about it, but an employee of VMware or Quest Software or a regular customer could blog to their heart's content. So this is weird, but again, if Citrix wants to ask this of us then I guess that's their prerogative.
But where the really, really crazy stuff begins is that Citrix asked us not to "disclose" how the new beta client works. So not only was this all "disclosed" by Lee in the video that was posted to the whole world, but the Citrix Receiver v13 client is a PUBLIC beta. Anyone can download it and figure out how it works on their own! (I actually double-confirmed this over the weekend: I created a brand-new MyCitrix account with with my personal Gmail address and I was able to download the Mach 3 beta client no problem.)
This puts those of us who are CTPs in an awkward position. On the one hand, Citrix is implying that their ability to share information with us is predicated on our agreement not to disclose information that's NDA. But on the other hand, we're telling them that they can't just slap an "NDA" label on information that's already public and expect us not to blog about it, especially since if we don't, someone else will.
At the end of the day, I understand that Citrix isn't a monopoly anymore and so they have to be more aware of how and when they release information to the public. I just hope they can contain their craziness and remember that anything they put out in public will be talked about in public, and locking CTPs out of a conversation that's happening anyway doesn't help either of our causes.