On yesterday’s podcast, Gabe, Jack, and I talked about Citrix’s challenges for the year ahead. At one point we were talking about their new CEO, and Jack asked me, “What do you do if you’re the new CEO of Citrix?"
The most important thing is that Citrix has to let their customers build custom solutions around best-of-breed products, even if those products are not from Citrix!
Let me explain...
Citrix is really good at XenApp and XenDesktop. It’s a huge business and the reason that most Citrix customers are Citrix customers.
About ten years ago, Citrix started down the “suite” path (as many vendors did). So now if you look at the Citrix suite, it’s not just XenApp and XenDesktop, but it’s other products like ShareFile, XenMobile, NetScaler, etc.
Here’s the problem. While most customers buy Citrix for XenApp and XenDesktop, Citrix as a company has been trying to force/grow their footprint/stranglehold by creating “first class” integration between XenApp/XenDesktop and ShareFile, XenMobile, and NetScaler.
In other words, ShareFile integrates with XenApp/XenDesktop and all the Receiver clients in a great way—better than any other enterprise file sync & share product such as Dropbox, Box, or OneDrive. XenApp/Desktop integrates with XenMobile better than any other EMM product like MobileIron, AirWatch, or Good. And XenApp/XenDesktop integrates with NetScaler better than any other application delivery controller such as F5.
This is a problem for Citrix, because while most customers choose Citrix because of XenApp/XenDesktop, they don’t choose Citrix because of ShareFile, they don’t choose Citrix because of XenMobile, and they don’t choose Citrix because of NetScaler.
So if a customer wants to use XenApp/XenDesktop with Box, they get a second-rate, less-integrated experience. If they want to use XenApp/XenDesktop with MobileIron, they get a second-rate, less-integrated experience. If they want to use F5, they get a second-rate, less-integrated experience.
Back in the day, Citrix MetaFrame was the best-of-breed product that could be easily integrated with other best-of-breed products. But today, if a customer wants to use XenApp, XenDesktop, Box, MobileIron, and F5, they do not get a fully integrated, delightful experience. The only way a customer can get that fully-integrated, full-potential, first class experience, they have to use second-, third-, or fourth-rate products with their best-of-breed XenApp/XenDesktop.
Being a Citrix customer in 2015 means that you’re forced to compromise. It is literally impossible for Citrix customers today to have best-of-breed across the board. This is Citrix’s death warrant.
Now imagine the alternative. What if Citrix actually made a real effort to make Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, and every other EFSS product integrate with XenApp/XenDesktop as smoothly and nicely as ShareFile? Certainly the other EFSS vendors would jump on board because they’d like access to Citrix’s huge install base, and they’d love to provide their customers with a nice, integrated, first-class experience. The same is true for the other product sectors too.
To be clear, I’m not saying it’s bad that Citrix has their own EFSS, EMM, and ADC products. I’m just saying that Citrix needs to make sure that all of these types of products are are first class citizens within their ecosystem. For every dollar they spend developing ShareFile, they need to spend a dollar making sure XenApp/XenDesktop integrates with all the competitive products too.
The days of 90s and 2000s monolithic suites are over. Today’s CIOs want to buy the best-of-breed products in every category, and for $500 per user for XenApp/XenDesktop, you can expect they want their other best-of-breed products to integrate in a first class way. Citrix’s new CEO needs to embrace the reality that Citrix is never going to lead in all these categories, and even if they could, they’re never going to convince all their customers to go with the entire Citrix stack. It’s time to hug the competition instead of trying to force products where they don’t lead onto their customers. Citrix needs to create a world where buying Citrix doesn’t mean their customers have to compromise in other areas.