Let’s kick off our pre-BriForum weekend with a fun thought exercise:
As Citrix has evolved from a terminal server-based company to an end-to-end desktop virtualization company, they’ve obviously grown their potential market. And now that they’re going down the XenClient path to provide a client-based platform on which XenDesktop-managed desktops can be run, it can be argued that they’re casting a wider net to catch more general desktop users instead of just terminal server desktop users. Carrying that forward you can imagine the Citrix of 2012 or 2013 having tens of millions of “real” XenDesktop users and the customer base segmenting into “traditional” and “virtual desktop/VDI/XenClient/XenDesktop/Citrix-delivered” groups.
So what does Citrix do at that point? Do they continue move/force new customers into XenDesktop, or do they cast an even wider net in an attempt to snipe the traditional desktop customers too? Or can they do both?
It’s clear that while desktop virtualization is continuing to mature, it’s extremely rare to find a customer that’s gone 100% virtual. (Even when “virtual” is the multi-modal terminal server, VDI, locally streamed, and/or client-based VM environments.) But even though most customers have two separate desktop delivery environments, we're finding more and more companies who manage big parts their traditional and virtual desktops as single entities. (Just ask AppSense how many of their customers build a single user environment that spans traditional and virtual desktops.)
So what if Citrix decided that they too wanted to extend their desktop delivery platform to the traditional desktop space? What would that look like? Integration with SCCM? Forcing everyone to use XenClient? Delivering MSI packages with the same ease they deliver App-V packages?
Or do they go for it all and buy a traditional desktop management company?
It's not as far-fetched as you think. Owning a traditional desktop management product could get them into environments where people don't believe in desktop virtualization or where desktop virtualization doesn't work. Owning a tradition desktop management product could help them manage the one-to-one persistent desktops that XenDesktop customers (and soon XenClient customers) love (even though "we" hate them). A traditional desktop management product will allow Citrix XenDesktop customers to manage their Windows desktops. Period. It would add another bullet point to the FlexCast story.
Heck, then Citrix could even buy a real user environment management company and create a complete user and application environment that roams/migrates/flows from the traditional to the virtual desktop. Then customers buying XenDesktop would get everything needed to deliver, secure, and manage the Windows desktops and the applications for every user in the company delivered in any way.
At this point the “migration” would be pretty straightforward, and if Citrix priced it right then no one else could touch them. What would these two purchases cost? Certainly they can work out something for less than they paid for XenSource.
Of course moves like this would surely piss off Microsoft. It would fly in the face of what Microsoft is doing with SCCM. (Although with their announcements of future versions of SCCM being able to deliver many different kinds of apps—virtual and physical—it could be argued that Microsoft is actually moving into Citrix’s territory. The same could be said with Microsoft’s goal for Windows 8 to take VDI to the next level and for things like RemoteFX to be built into the platform.)
Maybe there's point in the not-too-distant future when Citrix doesn't even care if they're competing with Microsoft? Maybe they could even leverage a move like this to wean themselves from Microsoft’s gracious benevolence? Maybe Citrix could ride this approach into the sunset of the Windows client over the next five years while retooling to deliver HTML5 apps from the cloud? Maybe Google is Citrix’s next Microsoft?
All fun thoughts...