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 [https://www.brianmadden.com/opinion/Live-from-IFORUM-now-App-Delivery-Expo]. 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[https://www.brianmadden.com/opinion/Tim-Mangan-reports-from-Citrix-Summit-07] 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: https://www.brianmadden.com/opinion/Citrix-Presentation-Server-has-left-the-building-XenApp-is-the-new-name )
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.