I am also here at the Citrix App Delivery Expo (formerly known as iForum). I hit some sessions yesterday and the opening keynote this morning and wanted to share some thoughts.
A big concern to me coming into the conference was how Citrix would handle the combination of their purchases into a cohesive story. Last year at iForum and even at the Citrix Summit in January, Citrix failed to capitalize on the opportunity to fully explain what they were going to do with the Ardence technology they purchased. I expected them to do so here. I also did not expect them to be really talking about the XenSource purchase much due to the timing. The purchase had not been completed (that I knew of). But it was such a big deal (maybe a contrivertial deal?) that they had to address it.
Obviously they have been very busy in getting it all ready for this show. The deal officially just closed on Monday, although Citrix knew when it would close well in advance so we are really talking about the last month or so. Both Ardence and XenSource are clearly front and center in this show.
I think the fast turn-around in what they were to talk about was showning in the opening keynote - it was not as smooth as one normally expects from Mark Templeton. If I tried to put a single theme on it, I might call it "Look at all this great stuff we have that you need, and we know that you need us to make it all work together". Someday.
There are a bunch of announcements here (I'm sure Brian will cover), but nothing that I have found earth shattering here. A session yesterday did announce that a beta of the Delaware version of Presentation Server will be available for testing starting next monday, and the release will be Q2/Q3 next year. Presentation Server 4.5 will not run on Windows Server 2008 so this release is important.
Mark announced that there are over 4000 people here. It doesn't feel any bigger than last year to me. But Citrix is clearly a bigger company that is more than just Presentation Server now. (Maybe the new colors, which are blue and black, reflect their "going corporate" on us?) You can feel a different attitude than last year, when they were still the PS guys that also had these other pieces. They are now an "Application Delivery" company with a lot of neat stuff. Hey, it beats "Access"!
Actually, I found that the story and concepts of combining these peices play together better than I thought that they would. This story, combining different virtualizations
- Display (Presentation Server)
- Application (Application Virtualization and Streaming)
- OS (Ardence, now Provisioning Server)
- Hardware (XenSource)
makes sense when you use different parts (sometimes in combination) for the different needs a company has. The story is good, however, only if you stay at the high level and don't wory about the details. And to give them credit, while Citrix talked about combining and managing across the needs rather than a series of pinpoint solutions, they also admitted that they have a lot of work to do in order to make that a reality.
So I am more impressed than I expected. But here is the challenge for Citrix. Can they (over time) blend these pinpoint products into a seemless solutions AND yet achieve two other important (to us, not them) goals:
- Allow for (effective) deployment of individual parts. We all can't afford the Platinum solution, and yet need to be able to use some of the parts. This is both a business challenge to Citrix (unbundling) and a technical challenge in productization.
- Allow for integration with competing solution parts. Mark talked about how you will be able to choose between the Xen and Viridian Hypervisors which is a great example of this. But we want to have VMWare on that list. We also want choices all the way up (and across) the stack of solutions. Citrix talks a lot about integrating with partners - but it is almost always partnering around the edges of what they offer. Long term success for Citrix needs to embrace partnering with competing solutions, both outside the edges and inside.
In thinking about this post over night, I think that perhaps I did Citrix a little dis-service. You see, I am a bleeding edge person so I have been looking at the technologies shown in the demos for quite a while. I am sure that for most of the people in the audience, the Ardence demos were fantastic. They did a great job on those, and deserve credit for that. For me, it's just that I've seen those demos for more than a year and a half.