Citrix's Desktop CTO Harry Labana leaves Citrix for AppSense!

In a blog post on Citrix.com, Citrix's desktop CTO Harry Labana announced today that he's leaving the company to join AppSense, where he'll be a VP and their CTO.

In a blog post on Citrix.com, Citrix's desktop CTO Harry Labana announced today that he's leaving the company to join AppSense, where he'll be a VP and their CTO. Harry joined Citrix in July 2009. In February 2010 I sat down with him and recorded a video interview. His decision to leave is amicable (well, to the extent that a CTO leaving can be). Citrix and AppSense have always been close and will most likely continue to be.

One of Harry's last public moves at Citrix was the publishing of an excellent three-part series of blog posts on Citrix.com called "Desktop Virtualization is a strategic conversation." (Here are the links to Parts 1, 2, and 3--read them if you haven't yet.) While written as he was at Citrix, it's a great framework for the desktop virtualization conversation that certainly applies to AppSense as well.

While it's too bad for Citrix, this is certainly a great thing for AppSense as they attempt to build the ultimate user virtualization platform. (Too bad Citrix didn't buy them back when they had the chance.) And I'm sure it's good for Harry, where he'll be able to have a more direct influence over the direction of the company. (They're small and private... what more could you ask for?)

So congrats to Harry and congrats to AppSense. If you'd like to talk to him in person about this, you can at BriForum London 2011 next week. Harry and I will present a joint session about the future of the desktop.

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Harry -- GOOD FOR YOU! I am sure THEY will listen to you. Give my best to Doug Lane. AppSense is building THE best team and leveraging great talent.


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My first reaction was WTF! But before I explain,I must admit two things. This totally caught me my surprise, I'm usually better at finding these things out :-( and I have to take my comment back in the "the ultimate user virtualization platform" post from Brian, where I said Appsense does not have the DNA.


Great great hire for Appsense, the right DNA being added and seems like a really smart personal move by Harry. Congrats, look forward to seeing the user virtualization space expand.


However my WTF sentiment is from a Citrix point of view. As other's such as @edgeseeker have commented in the past. Citrix is not innovating. Citrix seems to have a leadership crisis. On one hand it took them far too long to fire the XenDesktop GM, then they put a weak PM person in charge and from a previous Brian post they now have a multi headed desktop organization. All I hear is BS on Receiver this, receiver that. WTF is Receiver anyway? An ICA client that displays remote windows apps only with a sub par user experience on non windows client devices online only. So much marketing and lack of focus on solving the real problems that will drive desktop virtualization.


This dude www.citrix.com/.../leader.asp seems to be asleep at the wheel. How long can he continue to earn the big bucks? biz.yahoo.com/.../7605.html He pulled in $9M in November 2010 and for that we still have no HDX connect, no Reverse Seamless, $h1t quality, no layers, no user anything. All that's been accomplished is hype driving the stock price up it seems. The reality is that XenApp is all what most people can use, nothing being done to enable the next generation on the desktop. I am sure we will hear more BS about app stores that are not real in the enterprise at Synergy, perhaps HDX improvements (the real value), more promises of XenClient with limited applicability, but still NOTHING on what Citrix will do in the user virtualization space or with layers to enable more desktop virtualization.


Are they really asleep? I think so, they don't seem to want to do anything to solve the real problems. Perhaps the strategy is only to partner and play a waiting game. Doesn't help us.


Citrix lacks strong competition, and I think by loosing a CTO who connected with the community and really understood the space well, we will go back to the usual Citrix marketing and closed PM view of the world where little gets done that matters. Incremental progress only. If I were VMware, Cisco, IBM, Oracle, BMC etc I'd be looking to see how they could break the Citrix dominance in desktop virtualization by adding user virtualization to their stack. I bet they could drive more revenue with user virtualization by leveraging it to apply to all desktops.


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I am not usually one to double post or continue to repeat what has been said, but I agree with AppDetective. I have had a strong sense that there is a leadership crisis (execution and NOT just marketing) at Citrix. I am very happy for the stockholders (great run-up), but I believe that the future is not Desktop Virtualization the way they are positioning it, but rather XenApp and their SaaS model with cloud application (AppCloud) availability.


No pointing fingers until the stock crashes!


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AppDetective,


I agree with you that there definitely seems to be some leadership challenges at Citrix.  I feel like Harry leaving is probably a reflection on bashing your head against the wall too many times in an effort to change the way things are and eventually just giving up when you realize you can't enact change.  Hopefully that works itself out because Citrix is a great company that has all the assets necessary to continue to lead this industry for a long time.  However, continual missteps in the leadership space and this will eventually catch up to them.  


Regarding your other comments.  I do believe Citrix gets it on what some of the real problems are with desktop virtualization.  Clearly by demonstrating direction in things like MCS, Intellicache, XenClient experimental layering, etc they know what needs to be done.  As we all know layering / provisioning, etc it's a simple problem to solve.  Are they 3-4 years behind the rest of the industry, yes.  Can they catchup, I think so.  In the meanwhile, don't discount the value of HDX.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at what the future holds for HDX.  Citrix will continue to lead all others in this space and they are continuing to invest heavily in keeping that lead.


Shawn


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@Shawn Bass good to see a post from you. You've been MIA for a while. I can only speculate for broader reasons for the departure, but a combination of personal opportunity and head banging against idiot leadership is entirely plausible.


Not sure if it's a typo. But I don't think layering is a simple problem. That's why Citrix has a jigsaw of pieces on the floor with nobody putting them together, and those who could leaving. I hear there are even more departures on the way. I don't believe they have a clue about the user space else they would have made a move a long time ago. It's something as we all know the community has beat them up for years including customers.


I agree we will likely see some good stuff on HDX Nitro finally announced with more solid dates. That's good. But if HDX is the only value Citrix can bring to the table they are not relevant. We all bought XenApp for ICA and management. XenDesktop has a terrible management story, and the Desktop Director stuff etc are just operational tools (good) but not solving the meat of the management problem. This is the problem with Citrix. Not solving the real problems and then over marketing at Synergy with stories on Cloud BS, XenClient ltd relevance, app stores and more Receiver BS  etc. That's all very nice but does nothing to solve real world problems that are blocking implementation today and for at least the next few years. It's amazing to me why analysts don't beat the crap out of Citrix for this. All they are doing is selling XenApp under the XenDesktop umbrella and nobody has the brains to ask them how are people deploying in production and is that a growth model that can be sustained when people can't implement. We all know if you are doing 1-1 you are 99% if you have half a brain going to do 1-1 which is expensive although there are other benefits. So what does that mean to the desktop opportunity? It's a niche just like XenApp was, but a bigger niche this time.


That's the problem with Citrix, niche thinking, MS  problem, weak leadership all results in SLOW progress. Limited innovation that can be applied in the real world that is then made up for by the marketing machine who to be fair have nothing else to work with.


If you really look at the numbers on VDI specifically. How much revenue is there really? I bet less than $100M for either for VMware or Citrix. This is tiny in comparison to XenApp and will take years to grow but the overall pie will get bigger. VMware can't hide the numbers since they don't have a XenApp to mask the results, but it's clear View is making insignificant revenue. So incremental progress to a niche market. Most people will stick to local something and try new models. The Windows 7 upgrade train will be over by the time layers solutions can really do anything, and then do these vendors really thing IT will get funded again to change the desktop for years.........? That's where new management models will be required now, whether it's layers, user virtualization or something else. I personally don't buy the layers story in the timeframe of Windows 7 migrations, it's too late except for small use cases. Seems like management where the money is going to be made not hosted desktops. Perhaps that's the personal opportunity Harry is eluding to and why he quit Citrix. Guess somebody should ask him at BriForum.


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I've been around.  Just crazy busy working on 4 different client's projects all at the same time while continuing to work on delivering my training classes and prepping a whole lot of stuff for BriForum, Synergy and TechEd.  May is an absolutely insane month of conferences, etc.


Regarding layers that was totally a typo and boy how a few letters change thing.  I *meant* to say layering isn't a easy problem to crack.  Even those vendors that have rather mature layering tech (MokaFive, Unidesk, Virtual Computer, and Wanova) there's still a whole lot of issues such as layer priorities, etc.


Regarding Layer and Windows 7, I disagree with you.  I don't think it's too late.  I do think it's too late for laying to make any headway in the traditional OSD/ESD delivery model, but then again most of the pieces that make an alternative layer approach around App Virt, Workspace Management and User-targeted MSI apps are still a few years off from broad adoption IMO.  We'll see if Harry can move this space better now that he's at AppSense.  Time will tell.


Last comment regarding Layering and Type-1/Type-2, etc.  I think not enough people give enough thought to players like Wanova.  At the end of the day, the average end user doesn't give a crap about Type-1 / Type-2 Hypervisor capability and if it's difficult to use periphals, wireless networking, etc then it's just going to fail.  Certainly there are use cases that warrant a Type-1, Type-2 model, but to me what IT really wants is centralized management of base images with the ability to inventory machines, enforce base image updates and to some degree preserve the user environment all the while.  That's pretty much what Wanova does.  I think if Wanova was more aggressively priced they'd be kicking all forms of ass right now.  We'll see what happens there.  Everyone wants to make a buck and people also need to recoup their investments in new tech.


Shawn


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@shawn bass. Well glad you found time to comment.


WRT to Windows 7 and layering. Aspect of layering may come in. But really XP is end of life which means that over the next 2-3 years people will have to upgrade. Are those folks going to rip out all their systems management practices overnight? I doubt it, unless smaller scale or focused use cases. Also the layers vendors Unidesk, Wanova etc are VDI only, no TS support. So as soon as you need another desktop model your management complexity just doubled. That's why I am bullish on the user virtualization space which seems more applicable.


Wanova, interesting, but they are too device focused for me.


Anyway good to see you back,


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If you think Citrix isn't busily innovating you must not be tuned into the roadmap, a number of recent shipping features and some of the pending releases.


I am the first to point out when someone doesn't get it, but to suggest Gordon Payne is clueless is way off base. If you have spent any time with him, as I have with customer in the room doing significant deployments, you would know that he clearly "gets it"


I think what is fair to criticize Citrix for is the choppiness and sloppiness in developing and lockstepping the Reciever with the rest of the product line.  For example, the lack of authentication integration with the various gateway flavors/versions and receivers is inexcusable. However, the receiver team has been re-orged and there is now coordination across teams, this year you will see much better things in this area.


Citrix is very far ahead of the pack, I think it is just plain wrong to suggest there is a lack of innovation and leadership.


Can anyone say Metaframe XP? NFuse Elite? We are in a whole new universe today with Citrix and I like it


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@SeveGreenberg. Trust me Steve, I and plenty of good connections are very well tuned into the roadmap. Its as I have always said about Citrix, good vision that tends to come from Mark, but little that will matter in the next 2 years to help those of us like you and me that have to get things done now. What I am challenging directly is the merry band of yes men who can't execute. Perhaps Mark holds the reigns too tight and they have no choice, however I am not off base to point out that Payne is clueless. Just look at the GM organization he has created. Of the 3 product GMs one is a nice guy but came from marketing, the other is an arrogant clueless product manager that is the acting GM. How long has be been acting and how long will it stay that way before the whole thing just becomes an even messier jigsaw with so many directions that even Citrix marketing has a hard time explaining to people who PAY to go to Synergy to be marketed to………? Both are not desktop guys even if you hold a different opinion of them personally, the other is the former XenApp GM so I guess he is ok, but doing some cloud XenApp thing now. Don't get me even started on product quality and empty customer promises from Payne and his product team. It seems from the outside that Payne is trying to create his California empire, and the desktop people there suck. I have observed  that California Citrix is not like the Citrix we all know. All lot more smoke and mirrors. I see Payne pimping Receiver on the Google Chrome launch day, and Cisco UCS etc. Perhaps that's his focus. Pimp out the company to get bought, and not give a crap about real world execution. It won't be the first time in history that a bag of nothing has been sold to dumb people.


It is the fool who kisseth the vendor *** and not smelleth the fragrance of BS


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>It is the fool who kisseth the vendor *** and not smelleth the fragrance of BS


that is just offensive


I don't rely on the vendor to make everything pretty or easy. Citrix certainly has had execution issues as everyone does. They certainly need to do better.


I spend my time making things work for customers not bitching about it. No vendor has ever provided us everything we need to be successful. 15 years of successful Enterprise client deployments and awards comes from making *** work, not pointing fingers and bitching about it.


Do you really think any given vendor is going to get it all right and package it up with a bow for you??


The only thing I care less about is their internal politics which has nothing to do with getting real world results


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@SteveGreenburg. My intention was not to direct that comment at you. It's a general statement that I am making. For example I use hypervisor X therefore my only choice is VDI or I am an MS only shop. Sorry for the offense, not directed at you.


I still however maintain that Payne can't execute and is full of it. For sure, nothing can be expected to be perfect, but in this case there is a slow rot going on at Citrix that will eventually tip the scales to a point of no return.  Everybody seems to be asleep to that fact the results which I have to live with every day in the real world. Just look at the VDA for example, let alone any new innovation. So tuning into the internal workings of a company is key to understand if I am making the right bets for my users. I can honestly say right that I am not as confident as you seem to be in the future of Citrix given their track record with XenDesktop and quality of leadership. Again, not an attack on you, your intentions, experience or credibility. I've seen you present in the past, your a good guy!


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Talking to some Citrix people recently it seems apparent that they are haemorrhaging diligent and capable staff left right and centre, from all levels of the organisation. It would appear that despite grand and continuing plans to grow in size and product portfolio they have no idea how to do so in a manner which fosters continued staff loyalty, quite the reverse if my interpretation of the conversation is even moderately accurate.


The slow rot appears to be affecting the stick at both ends, lets hope the good bits are in the middle....and it's a long stick!


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Fair enough, and let's hope that either way they are listening and acting on the feedback


Certainly there is room for improvement and I hope they acknowlege that


And yes, in the XD5 VDA adn Receiver realm we ARE in a dangerous limbo right now, what happens next will determine everything


Another important point to understood about me is that I don't particularly advocate VDI solutions, it is one tool in the toolbox that applies to at most about 10% of use cases, so I don't bet the farm on it anyway!@!!


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