Drinking from the fire hose: My impressions of Citrix Synergy 2018 & the EUC world

My initial report after Day 1 and Day 2 of the show.

Hi, I’m Kyle, and as you might have read, I'm the newest Site Editor for BriandMadden.com. Welcome to my very first blog post!

My first day on the job wasn’t like most others. I didn’t sit down with HR to sign documents and learn about company policy and procedure. Instead, I hopped on a plane and joined Jack at Citrix Synergy 2018 in Anaheim. Can’t be hard to guess what I preferred.

I had no real idea of what to expect as I’ve never attended a conference before. Everything at Citrix Synergy 2018 was new to me, from witnessing Citrix CEO David Henshall unveil the new Citrix Workspace App during what I’m told was a fairly toned-down keynote speech, to roaming the expo hall and speaking with vendors about a variety of EUC products and solutions.

I thought the keynote presentation was solid and fairly informative without being overly technical. It also moved at a brisk pace, never slowing down or dragging along. Personally, I was captivated from beginning to end, but other, more experienced bloggers felt Citrix glossed over some important aspects (e.g., price and difficulty of SaaS app setup on the admin side). There were a couple moments of cheesiness (the spilled coffee), but otherwise seeing live demos was very useful in understanding the Workspace App.

After the keynote, I attended a lunch event sponsored by three companies (Liquidware, Igel, and NVIDIA). Given that I’m very new to the EUC world, I’d only heard about NVIDIA previously. As everyone in attendance ate a delicious meal, each of the three sponsoring companies stood up and explained the upcoming iterations of their flagship products.

It was here that I was struck by how excited vendors often are about their products. Sure, they’re trying to convince us to write about the product (at the lunch) or to consider purchasing their product (at the expo), but it often felt like they genuinely believed their products were helpful to the end user. I first witnessed this when talking with Liquidware’s David Bieneman. He was eager to speak with everyone before we started eating and later had absolutely no problem speaking more high level with me during the Expo when I visited the company booth.

After Liquidware, the Igel representative spoke about their endpoint management solutions, something I had some background knowledge in already, and then Nvidia spoke about vGPUs and I was even more comfortable with.

After the lunch, I joined back up with Jack for a 1:1 meeting with Sridhar Mullapudi, vice president of Product Marketing and Workspace Services to discuss the Workspace App. The conversation was interesting, even if I got lost fairly quickly as Jack and Srindhar candidly discussed the app using a lot of acronyms and terms I don’t yet understand. I came away from the meeting stunned that executives make themselves so readily available during the conference, even as another part of me understands that that only makes sense.

After the 1:1, Synergy Park opened and I went to go see what breakout sessions and fireside chats would be most useful to grow my knowledge of Citrix. I really liked the layout and ambiance of Synergy Park. Lights were dimmer, the “fireside chat” areas were dressed up to appear like everyone was sitting around a fire, and there were interactive sections. It was more laidback than the keynote and the energetic Expo hall.

The final event of the night was the expo itself where I could speak with vendors and other attendees. Thanks to a little red wristband, I was able to enter ahead of the growing, starved crowd. Dinner was laid out and the alcohol started to flow. I snagged a beer and checked out the vendors in attendance.

When I first approached each vendor, I would explain that I lacked the IT knowledge and wanted them to talk to me like I’m 10. I wanted a chance to learn about their products without getting stuck in the weeds. They would consider this for a moment, and then when I revealed I’m in my first week on the job, they became surprised and more willing to take pity on me and go high-level. There’s a better chance I’ll grasp what they’re saying that way.

Two hours flew by and then attendees were all jettisoned from the hall (some wouldn’t take the hint to leave so the lights were simply turned off—hard to overlook that). As we walked out, Jack introduced me to Brian Madden (now of VMware) and former editor Gabe Knuth (now of FSLogix).

All of that in just one day, and really only my first full day on the job even. Day 2 of Citrix Synergy 2018 would prove to be just as interesting, but mercifully a little slower paced.

In the morning of the second day, I attended another 1:1 with Jack, this time with Manoj Raisinghani, vice president of Product Marketing and Cloud Networking at Citrix. As he spoke with Jack, Manoj wanted to make it clear that he did not view the Citrix Workspace App as a replacement for Receiver. This was the next evolution of Receiver, which wasn’t about to just disappear from the marketplace.

Afterwards, Jack and I sat down for a lunch with Dell’s Jeff McNaught, where he showed off their brand-new Wyse 5070 thin client, due for shipping out on June 5. Thin clients, he explained, are expected to last much longer than traditional laptops and desktops and so require more forward-thinking tech as well as enhanced customizability to attract buyers.

I split up from Jack again and returned to the Expo hall for another couple of hours of querying vendors about their products. I found I understood a lot more terms this time around. I especially felt at home when visiting the Samsung booth. Here, I could easily wrap my head around the Samsung devices and solutions like Samsung DeX and Samsung Knox.

During the Expo, I also watched Jack present the Best of Synergy 2018 awards, and in another session, listened to him explain his thoughts on current EUC trends. The second day wrapped up at another reception, alongside several of my new TechTarget colleagues.

All in all, it was a very exciting first week on the job at BrianMadden.com and TechTarget. I got to meet Citrix executives, current and former contributors, community members, and a variety of exciting vendors, while learning about the EUC players and soaking up the latest terms and products/solutions. I’m excited to actually see the TechTarget office next week!

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