Tim Mangan reports from Citrix Summit 07

Citrix Summit is the annual conference Citrix holds for its channel and technology partners each January. I'm here at Citrix Summit 07 in Orlando, Florida this week.

Citrix Summit is the annual conference Citrix holds for its channel and technology partners each January. I'm here at Citrix Summit 07 in Orlando, Florida this week. As always, the details of this conference are under a general NDA so there are things I can't really talk about, although Citrix will be announcing most of those details publicly when products ship anyway. What I can talk about is overall impressions and what wasn't here. There are over 3000 people here, although many of those are Citrix employees also here for training and other meetings, so how many non-Citrites are here isn't clear.

The opening keynote started off with the expected grand opening. Those of you at iForum this year should remember the Citrix Dancers, who this time focused more on drumming on garbage cans than dance. I'm not sure what the garbage cans represent, but it was an entertaining entrance for Mark Templeton to make. After that, he did a mostly one man show delivery of the Citrix message to customers for the first two hours. Citrix is continuing to improve on the messaging. Surprisingly, now that I understand what they mean by "access" (see my post from iForum 2006), they managed to not use the "A" word during the opening keynote. Okay, maybe it's not so surprising. But the new message does better capture the importance and value of the complete solution, including those appliances they have been buying. Product features, as well as different packaging levels were overviewed. There were no big technical advances that we haven't already heard Citrix show us in the past, but many important packaging decisions were unveiled.

The second two hours of the opening keynote was dedicated to the Citrix message to the resellers. More than a message, it more properly should have been called a training session on how to sell Citrix, and was pretty well done, even if many of the VARS would be unable to make it an effective approach. Citrix is now a big and multi-product company, so selling Citrix today is quite different than it was a few years ago. Heck, it is possible with all this streaming and virtualization that by 2010 Mark might not even talk about Presentation Server in a keynote, except maybe as a reference to the "old way of doing things!"

As is the case at previous Summits, the majority of the technical sessions were devoted to understanding new stuff and how to sell it. We have seen the basics of the new stuff as previews for a while now, and yet I found the technical sessions (I don't sell the stuff so I had no need for the sales sessions) were well planned, covering not only the basics but nuances due to packaging changes and experience gained from the community tech preview (beta) trials.

Also at the summit was a set of focus group events where attendees were invited to participate is a small focused presentation and provide feedback to Citrix. This is a further indication of the progress Citrix has made since Brian and Rick Dehlinger had their little road trip and visit last year in opening up with the community.

So what didn't we see (at least as of this writing)?

Well, we didn't leave with a 4.5 release DVD. That would have been nice, but I guess we have to live with the tech previews a while longer. I would be guessing that some of the late packaging decisions may have slowed things a bit beyond what Citrix hoped for. We also saw nothing visible from the purchase of Ardence. I was hoping that they would at least be talking about their plans. Since Ardence streams an OS, an obvious play would be to tie into their VDI (what Citrix calls Dynamic Desktop Initiative, or DDI) solution which is focused on automating the deployment and access of virtual or blade-based desktop PCs.

We also didn't see a bunch of technology partners we are used to seeing on the show floor. Some may simply not have been invited, because they have become "competitors" to things Citrix has built or bought. Others might not be here due to cost/benefit. Since there are no end-users it can be an expensive way to reach out to the VAR channel. There were some new folks here, but I didn't see any new technology that made me say "wow." On the other hand, in talking with partners I saw cases of new and unique partnering with technology partners, with Citrix licensing from a partner in one case and seemingly ready to hand over Citrix technology to another partner to run with.

An interesting note to keep in mind is that older Citrix releases (like MetaFrame XP) are approaching end of life in 2007. So if you are running XP or 1.8 you had better start looking at the 4.5 betas (as well as probably thinking about new hardware and OS that you have put off) soon.

There may be further surprises waiting for us at the closing keynote tonight, but as I'll be off-line for a couple of days those will have to wait. Overall, no big surprises at the show, but the little ones were good ones.

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Does Citrix ever come out and say what percent of their revenue is from the "old way of doing things" (meaning Presentation Server)? I keep waiting for Mark Templeton to bang on the podium at iForum or Summit and say "You people aren't listening! We are not just about Presentation Server..." For the companies I work for, Citrix IS still about Presentation Server. Sorry, VDI/DDI and streaming/virtualization to the desktop just don't excite me (streaming/virtualization to laptops does a little). I work for companies with lots of users all over the world. For me SbC is still the way to go and a BIG part of that is keeping things thin at the desktop. A non-Microsoft thin client that can run ICA (or RDP) and paint the still relatively simple picture of what is happening on the server on the other side of the world. People have been telling us that the average business user is going to need applications that are too "rich" for this for a at lest a decade now, but that still hasn't happened in my world. Sure there are exceptions, and having things like the desktop broker or even full on VDI will come in handy, but I think they will continue to be the exception NOT the "rule" well beyond 2010.
Yes, these numbers are public. In the financial reports, the "old way of doing things" is referred to as Citrix's "core business." I don't have the numbers in front of me, but it's something like $700M per year (out of a total of just over $1B per year).

Keep in mind that the other prongs of their Windows application delivery strategy (DDI, streaming) have not yet been released, so they don't have a financial impact yet.

As for these other core technologies being exceptions and not the rule, I think Citrix would agree with you. The problem is today that these "exceptions" have to be delivered and managed in some old-school kind of way (if they can be managed at it). In the future, I think the idea is that Citrix Presentation Server will work for the bulk of your apps, and then VDI and/or streaming can be used for the smaller percentage that won't work via PS. That way you still have one application delivery and management framework... one solution.. that can work for all your Windows apps.. fat, thin, offline, rich, graphical, etc.


From a large corporate perspective like I have what it boils down to is how much money can the Enterprise and different business units inside of that Corp stand to throw at more and more bandwidth. When I went to VMWare's VDI launch they nearly choked when I asked them just how well any of this VDI nonsense would work in a 256K Circuit branch environment. Their obvious response was "not very well" The plain fact of the matter is there are a LOT of businesses that are still hovering around 256K-512K circuit speeds to their offices and have NO plans to move from that. VDI/DDI none of that stuff will work effectively over that kind of link. As most of us know we know already Citrix barely works effectively at those speeds depending on the circuit load. I know that the Citrix Desktop broker is supposed to help with the bandwidth usage. My comment to that is show me :)
I'm confused... How is a VDI/DDI solution any different than a Presentation Server solution in terms of bandwidth consumption?

I'm not trying to say that one should replace the other or anything, but I've always viewed VDI as nothing more than "SBCifying" a desktop.

I think you viewpoint is valid but it comes down to (as it always does) requirements. Certain instances will continue to work very well with Presentation Server but other requirements are developing where VDI will be the way to go. I'm talking with a company who have a requirement to outsource some development work, need to give developers full (non-multiuser kernel) environments but also keep complete control of their intellectual property. They are looking at VDI to deliver that.
VDI is a reality now and will continue to grow. VDI is a complimentary solution, not a replacement for Presentation Server.
I found the closing keynote to be a wonderful, but unusual general session for Citrix.  An emotional Mark T. spoke out about some of the toughest times in Citrix history and how they impacted him personally.  One of the topics covered was:  What's next, now that you've achieved your goal of being a $1B company?  I started to get this terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that Mark T. might decide to leave before the next event - I really hope not, but the tone of the session kind of felt like a 'good-bye' when he started talking about 'new beginnings'.
It got me thinking about who might take over if Mark T. stepped down, and what impact it would have on Citrix.  What do you think?
Just an update on the closing keynote.  The closing keynote brought no real new earth-shattering surprises.  But in an unusual show of frankness and openness, what Mark T did was "interviewed" by a columnist from USA Today and they spent the time talking about corporate culture and values.  The columnist had done a book about the early days of IBM and the theme was how they compare.  Citrix is now a big company and understands that it is time to start acting like one. 
It struck me on the final day of the conference of the possibility of some day (maybe Summit 2010) of Mark saying something like "Remember where we started.  The old way of computing we called Metaframe and Presentation Server.  The world has evolved and so has Citrix.  Now it's time to help our customers...".  Maybe not but we wouldn't have even concidered the idea a couple of years ago.
As someone who works sometimes as an ISV partner and often with ISV partners I remain with the question on how Citrix works with these partners.  Sure, Citrix is going to buy or build things sometimes that will create competition again in the future.  How they handle that is what is important.  As a big company, Citrix must learn that competition is not all bad.  It causes you to sharpen your products and strategies and helps you to keep growing.  Hopefully, Citrix will figure out how to bring the values that Mark talked about to this part of their business as well.
Is there any news on when 4.5 will come out? Or are they fixing the 2 admin tools thingie?
When I recorded my podcast with the PS team in Ft. Lauderdale on Dec 13th, they said (during the interview) that it was in "lockdown" or something like that, meaning that it was feature complete and they were just working on packaging and stuff. So I would imagine that would mean it should be out really soon, but I have no idea really..