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.