Podio feels like another portal, Citrix could make it into the "desktop" of the future

The Podio acquisition announcement and subsequent demo at Citrix Synergy last week brought on a lot of applause, and while that was going on, Brian and I looked at each other and shrugged.

The Podio acquisition announcement and subsequent demo at Citrix Synergy last week brought on a lot of applause, and while that was going on, Brian and I looked at each other and shrugged. We were both thinking the same thing: "Been there, done that." The closest thing that comes to mind when watching the short demo is that Podio looks an awful lot like Sharepoint with a Facebook theme on it, but there has to be more to it than that, right? In fact, it brought back memories of the last time Citrix went down the advanced-portal-with-apps route with NFuse Elite. I remember sitting at a Bob Evans in Independence, OH getting the briefing from Sequoia Software about how great it would be. That acquisition was valued at around $185 million, and it fizzled away in a slow and unnoticed demise.

At the time, the thinking was that the world would be all about portals. It's actually a simliar story to today: The web is going to take over, and the apps will all be delivered by the browser. If you don't have a portal, you have no way to get your users connected to those apps. We had IE6 to help us on the way, Windows was king, Mac was almost non-existent, and the phone on everyone's hip (yep, hip) was the Motorola StarTAC or something. We quickly learned that IE6 was a wreck, and that all the controls written for them essentially meant that the apps were locally installed apps anyway. As fast as the portal idea came, it went away. We were left with Sharepoint, which has ruled the roost until today. (I'm sure there's a lot more history there, so feel free to post about it in the comments)

So, it's natural that Podio would evoke some sort of emotion that brings out the memories and the wise-ass remarks from old guys that have seen this before. The thing is, we're twelve years past that initial foray into being everything to everyone, and the world may just be ready for a change. Here's why.

Rather than thinking of Podio as a portal or a Sharepoint clone, consider this: It was mentioned as part of a keynote in which Mark Templeton led with a discussion about the post-PC era. The post-PC era, as we've explained, is not so much about moving beyond computers at our desk as it is about moving past Windows being the de-facto standard interface to our applications and data. So far that's easy enough to grasp, but if Windows isn't the answer, what is? I think that's where Podio comes in. Set aside all this "team workspace" talk--that's what Podio does now--I think Podio is going to be the new "desktop" (the concept, not the device).

It's not there now, but picture a future Citrix offering that connects all of the user-focused products. Podio could provide access to Windows, SaaS, and native device applications via HTML5 Receiver (just the Receiver could be HTML5 - the apps can be anything from HTML to HDX), or even the clientless VPN access to internal web pages that they showed in the keynote. They could also enable custom made workgroup apps using their native application feature, as well as any of the collaboration products offered as part of Citrix Online. The interface would be completely customizable, and the users would have a single place to go for everything, rather than having to remember to go here for one thing and there for another. Plus, it would provide browser-based access to a user's data via Sharefile, not to mention all the team workspace stuff that it does now.

I'm sure there's more to it, and probably completely different paths of thought. BriForum speaker Dan Brinkmann is excited about it, so I'll connect with him over beers in London next week to find out why, but I wanted to throw this out there to see what everyone thinks. Is Podio the future, or a bust? What do you think it will grow up to be? If they left it alone is it something you would use, or does it need more?

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Gabe, was an HTML5 Receiver actually mentioned or shown at Synergy?


Watching the demo at Synergy, I was thinking that this is the next gen desktop, blogged about it a few days ago virtualfeller.com/.../is-podio-the-next-generation-desktop

The desktop is a place where all of our resources are consolidated.  It can take any form you want, but we are used to the Windows interface.  Podio also consolidates resoruces, but does it more logically.  Instead of having a big mashup of numerous resources, like today's desktop, Podio breaks the resources up into projects or teams.


I got warm and fuzzies about this too at Synergy. It's all in the implementation of it, though, especially with the current model being company based. I'm most concerned about protecting Intellectual Property; I imagine a lot of organizations will be wary of putting their projects up on someone else's servers and relying on them for keeping it secure and not hacked. Also, with the "easily share information" functionality how easy do you think it'd be for info to get leaked?


"I think Podio is going to be the new "desktop""

Since I agree with 90% of what Gabe said, I will focus on the 10% that I don't. - My primary disagreement is with the word "the" which suggests singular and therefore consolidation of the other workspaces/portals we're already using today.  Here's a new term/TLA for the week-- "YAW" - Yet Another Workspace...

There may be a place for Podio,,, right alongside My.Yahoo.com, modern corporate intranet home pages, solutions like Cisco Quad and whatever next-gen workspace the rest are cooking up.

Gabe was spot on about SharePoint being a defacto landing spot for many of the web-parts we've seen emerge over the past decade.  In the context of aggregating web-services for end-user consumption (including HTML5 remoting of Windows apps), Podio seems to be window-dressing. (pun intended) A place to insert RSS feeds and web parts with rounded corners, color pallets and minimalist design isn't the hard part. (RIP G.ho.st - en.wikipedia.org/.../G.ho.st)

Accepting that there are going to be MANY, not one, desktop/workspace is my point.  If folks think this is what will create 'sticky-ness' to a solution, think again. Securely orchestrating and federatatng corporate & individual identities, cloud services and brokering users not just to apps but corporate information and user data along with the run-time environments to support that stack is what will ultimately differentiate the solutions.

(Disclaimer: I prefer the Windows classic interface to XP's Duplo-inspired interface & Aero)


Another "me too". When the Podio demo at Synergy showed apps from XenApp integrated into a Podio workspace along with data from ShareFile and Google Docs the light bulb when on. Could this be a desktop replacement? A workspace to replace the desktop?

David, you raise excellent points regarding security. However, if enterprises do not provide a means to collaborate in this way will the consumerisation of IT movement see users taking this into their own hands and using a third party service which is not under the control of IT? Better the devil you know?


Very good question Jason,, Should IT make a pre-emptive strike with an offering? PrimaDesk jumps to mind as a 3rd party service outside of IT controls that you eluded to.

My take is that what gets exposed and how beneath the flashy UI matters more than how it is handled at a presentation server level. (pun intended)

Exchange allows you to limit client access to certain versions of Outlook.  IMAP/POP is an option, not the rule.   I'm still looking for an ActiveSync-based Windows client to work around where RPCoHTTPs is disabled...  WebDAV access to files ? Eeeeks!

A strong SAML+OAuth identity foundation, content aware lookups in an application catalog, dynamic binding of applications to a runtime to infrastructure as a service is where the IT controls and end user magic should really happen.


Man, this is great conversation. @Dan - They did not show one, but I do know that the silly "Receiver for Facebook" that they showed off in Barcelona last year was an HTML5 Receiver. It's out there somewhere, so it's not unreasonable to picture it integrated into Podio.


Thanks Gabe for the great post. If i may drop in my 2cent: there is a great book out there: The VDI Delusion. While reading it i kept thinking about how some kind of "glue" layer may look like which provides the framework needed to glue together all the bits and peaces that may build up the next generation work-/live-/desktop.

Sharepoint? WI/Cloud Gateway? Facebook?

I think Podio has good potential to fit into this space!