Thoughts from Citrix Summit Keynote, day 1

The Citrix Summit 2008 is happening this week in Orlando. This annual event is where Citrix exposes new messaging and products to their (mostly reseller) partners.

The Citrix Summit 2008 is happening this week in Orlando.  This annual event is where Citrix exposes new messaging and products to their (mostly reseller) partners.  Many of the details of the event are subject to an NDA (and yet leak out quickly enough, as it is important to these partners that their customers here it first from them).  So again this year, thanks to the NDA, I will have to omit some details of what I heard.

Probably the biggest news in what he heard and saw in the opening keynote is what wasn't there.  No major, earth shattering, announcements or changes in messaging and strategy.  Having said that, it isn't the case that there no important changes/announcements. 


As always, Mark Templeton took the stage for the majority of the 2 hour keynote, followed by VP of Sales John Burris.  Mark entered the stage with less flash than we have seen of late, and perhaps this was a precursor for his delivery.  Not that Mr T ever lacks on energy, just less flash and things new .  Much of the messaging, and indeed the inserted videos, were reruns of what I saw at iForum in October [].  Maybe it is the effect of the writer's strike, but these reruns actually didn't seem too bad to me.  We heard the same praises of what a good partner Citrix is from several major players, including Microsoft, HP, Dell, IBM, and others.  We also saw the perpetual motion movie with the cat again.    Citrix has chosen this year to stay with the same basic messaging theme that they started here at Summit a year ago[] and reinforced at iForum (excuse me, the "Application Delivery Expo")  in October 2007.   Mark has honed his message aound these reruns (you may recall that the ink was still wet on the Xen purchase when iForum was held),  and has made minor adjustments for changes, but the story seems to be working for them and they want to stay with it.  I was impressed by this message then, and it makes sense to me for Citrix to stay with it now.  


Without getting into details, Citrix did finally answer the question about what to do about bundling.  The answer seems to me to be a version of "matrix management", involving slices in one direction focusing around the customer problem, and slicing the other direction on scale.  I am not sure if this is going to work, but clearly folks who are not here are going to need to get up to speed on the details.  While not the "big news" of the opening session, I think this might be the most important for resellers and customers to understand.


In that regard, Citrix wants to get partners selling using the Citrix message.  As part of that they are reducing training and certification costs to partners (not end-users), at least for a period of time.  Here at the conference, the schedule for today is full of sessions dedicated towards training resellers on how to sell with the messaging.  It remains unclear to me how the smaller resellers will be able to carry off selling this message, but they certainly need to understand it even if they do not actually use it to sell.  Perhaps, they can use it in a "here is what the big companies are thinking about and doing; now here is what makes sense for you" kind of way.  I think Citrix wants to focus on the mid-tier market this year and one assumes that this is because they smell blood in the water here. 


Finally, there was some "big news", and I'm not going to spoil the surprise here with the details, but next month your favorite product might just have a new name (hint:  They didn't add the word "virtualization" to it). (NOTE:  I guess that Ruben posted the news here: )


One thought I had during the keynote, was that Citrix may be missing another key component for their success.  Perhaps another acquisition, this time in the SAN space, might make sense.  It would be a harder acquisition for them.  Ultimately this is a hardware play and Citrix (even with prior purchases) is a software company.


Another thought was about partnering.  No-where in the keynote were technology partners (other than the Microsoft to IBM's of the world) noted.  Citrix said they want to repair relationships with these partners and become more willing to work with (not fight) those with competing technologies.  The next iForum, moved up to  May 20-23 in Houston,  is not very far away, and if they are to live up to this they need to move fast.  But this is day 1, so we'll see how the week goes.


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Just a quickie today.  The day 2 keynote was quite good.  Unfortunately I will need to be light on details due to the nature of it.  We saw something new (and to me, anyway, unexpected) that will appear later this year.  We also saw Citrix reach out, a bit, to the ISV partner community.  Finally, we saw Mark T. give a presentation for the reseller community on delivering the Citrix message.  This latter, although scripted, had the feel of a personal conversation with Mark and was well done.


Thanks Tim for taking the time to inform us !
Second that!  Very helpful for those of us who couldn't make it.

In the past, I have questined Citrix commitment to the channel.  A few years ago it was not uncommon to hear resellers complain about other resellers stealing their business, or Citrix taking things direct on them. 

I do not sense this now (although it may still be going on).  Citrix appears to really want to partner with the channel and help them succeed.  From the Citrix perspective, they need the resellers/intergrators to succeeed it they are to branch out of the Presentation Server niche and into a much larger market.

On another note, it wasn't long ago that Brian wrote of how Citrix was lacking in the "thought leadership" area.  Citrix has been working hard on this and it shows.  Not that I buy all of these thoughts -- but they have raised the level of conversation and we should acknowlege it.  Of course, we still have to live with the realities of the things they don't talk about and gloss over.  A lot of technical detail holes exist in the overall strategy that these partners will be hit in the face with as they move customers down these paths.  It will be fun!

Citrix could always look at Datacore as SAN acquisition maybe? They would evade the hardware play Tim mentioned.
I think the smarter play (if they are even looking at SAN acquisition targets) is Compellent.  Even though this company does sell hardware (controllers, disk enclosures, etc) their magic happens in the software (Automatic Data Progression, true Thin Provisioning, FastTrack, where the most accessed blocks of data are moved to the outer areas of the disk for on disk tiering of storage).  Compellent is ripe if you ask me.  They just went public late last year, their stock price is below where they went public.  They are still losing money (although they are announcing their Q4 07 earnings on Feb 13th), but they are a true storage virtualization play.  My two cents

Does anyone know the dates of the Citrix Summit coming up later this year?

I think the location will be Orlando.  


Citrix has changed their dates from the traiditional dates, moving iForum to the spring and Summit to the fall.  In doing this, they are having more conferences this year than normal (moving up rather than delaying). 

iForum (App Delivery Expo):  May 20-23; George R. Brown Convention Center and Hilton Americas Hotel; Houston TX

Summit: October 26-29; Dolphin and Swan Resort (Disney World); Orlando Florida


Has anyone heard if they will be alternating Houston / Las Vegas for iForum now?

I'd be curious to see a poll here about preferred locations for these events - as to what the customers  want as opposed to what Citrix likes. 

Houston is a one-time location only.  Future iForum/App Delivery Expo's will be held in more traditional venues like Vegas, Northern California, and Orlando.