What to expect at Synergy: Framehawk, DesktopPlayer for PC, XenApp, & positioning against VMware

Every time I go to Synergy or VMworld, I come away thinking "Man, this company really has their act together." For a while, it was empty promises in the effort one one-upping each other, in the last year or two the bombastic keynote has given way to a more practical announcements that are–gasp–delivered on the next year.

Every time I go to Synergy or VMworld, I come away thinking “Man, this company really has their act together.” For a while, it was empty promises in the effort one one-upping each other, in the last year or two the bombastic keynote has given way to a more practical announcements that are–gasp–delivered on the next year.

This year I expect no different. I expect to think that Citrix “gets it” and has put all the pieces in motion the way we expect them to. That was the plan a few months ago, and I’m sure they’ll see it through. The thing is, Citrix is under new pressure to retake some of the buzz created by VMware. Look at what VMware has done since VMworld:

  • Acquired Desktone
  • Hired away several key Citrix executives
  • Released their own DaaS solution
  • Released their own terminal server solution

That’s one acquisition and two new products! They’ve been busy. And the crazy part is that none of those things were talked about at VMworld.

Now look at what Citrix has done in that same time frame:

  • Canceled XenApp in favor of XenDesktop App Edition
  • Acquired Framehawk
  • Re-released XenApp (but a “new” XenApp, kind of like “New Coke”)
  • Announced that Mark Templeton is retiring

It’s just about the polar opposite of the trajectory VMware is on, and don’t for one second think that Citrix isn’t aware of this.

Technically speaking, Citrix isn’t really behind VMware on anything. Sure they each have a few features that the other doesn’t, and there’s the “one-stop-shop” aspect of using VMware for everything that has to do with virtualization, but that’s not terribly new. VMware made waves really close to Synergy, so close that Citrix doesn’t have a lot of time to react. So the real question in my mind is about which way Citrix will go to combat this. Will they fall back on one-upmanship? Will they stay the course?

Here’s a few things I expect to see. Feel free to add yours in the comments:


The Framehawk acquisition made a small splash among people familiar with Framehawk, but most of the customers probably had no idea who they were. I’m sure they’ll talk extensively about what the inclusion of Framehawk’s LFP protocol can do to HDX (although I doubt they’ll use the term LFP). I’ve yet to see a demo of it in action, so I expect to see that, too.


When Citrix announced DesktopPlayer for Mac last year, people were excited. Not because of the ground-breaking technology, since it isn’t, but because of the fact that Citrix was enabling the use and management of client-hosted virtual desktops on Macs. When we learned it was based on VirtualBox it took all of a few seconds before people forgot about Macs and started asking for a Windows version. I don’t think it’s a stretch to think a Windows version is in the works.


This is more of a hope than an expectation, but I really want Citrix to come out with a tighter message around XenApp 7.5. It’s time to admit that it was a mistake (that word is taboo at conferences, though), that they’re committed to helping people make the transition, and that feature parity is imminent. This is one of the areas that VMware is going to to exploit at Citrix shops around the world (“hey, if you’re migrating, might as well look around”), so Citrix had better get it together quickly.

Hopefully that manifests itself in some sort of automated migration tool so that companies can avoid the forklift migration currently required. That’s challenging, but Citrix has never had a better reason to come out with something like that. A month or two ago they could just say, “Hey, it is what it is. Change happens.” but today it’s a different story.


The last thing I expect to see from Citrix is in relation to DaaS. I don’t expect them to release their own solution–they don’t have the infrastructure for that. Unless the acquire a large service provider, that’s just not in the cards. What I do expect to see, however, is an emphasis on the service providers in the CSP program that are doing DaaS. There are thousands of CSPs, but only a fraction of them do hosted desktops. Yet, if you search for them on Citrix’s website, there’s no way to tell the difference between any of them without calling around (and who wants to do that?).

In addition, I think we’ll hear a lot more about the direction XenDesktop is going. While Citrix has been doing something like DaaS for many years, they are now struggling with the appearance that they’re behind other companies. Expect to see some sort of positioning in that regard.

From the vendors

I hear all sorts of rumors from vendors, some that I can talk about and some that I can’t. I expect to see things from Nvidia & Dell, but I don’t know what just yet. CloudVolumes has a lot going on (they just hired Harry Labana), and Lakeside Software always has something cool at Synergy.  Last year we saw a lot about Android thin clients, so it will be interesting to see if that has increased this year. And then there’s the unknowns...who will surprise us? There’s always one!

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With vendors in mind, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by ThinScales announcement of ThinIO!


what do you expect from such event ?

- vision/strategy update ?

- new product ?

- new release of existing product ?

- acquisistion ?

I do prefer those event for vision/strategy update/correction, networking and access to PM/PMM... the bits/bytes of product is not interest for me during those events.


One bit of post VMworld news you forgot was the AirWatch Acquisition.  I think that is going to put a bit more pressure on Citrix in the mobility area.  I can't be specific, but I get a lot of "AirWatch this, AirWatch that" talk at work these days.  


I agree with the premiss they are close to feature parity. I expect they will focus on selling the CxOs on the breadth of their offerings but think instead it is the users that have to be won over.  I think here Citrix has a lead if they seize it with their Receiver.

Users I speak to don't want to go to a portal web page to then access their apps be they cop orate or cloud based. In my opinion whoever can push SSO apps out to BYOD devices while sandboxing corporate data securely will win.

If Citrix can somehow bring Receiver and WORX together as one they will be way ahead in that race.

I suppose this is more of a wish than an expectation though.


What I expect to hear at Synergy:

1. Heart felt good-bye from Mark Templeton, with perhaps a surprise announcement. Let’s pray it’s NOT somebody from Microsoft.

2. CloudStack gets more love, despite all the mindshare being with OpenStack. Perhaps they’ll buy something and add it to CloudStack.

3. Netscaler will continue to take digs at F5 and we’ll be told it rocks and how you need it more for mobility and desktop.

4. Citrix will tell us that they are dating Microsoft still. But now are at second base.

5. Guns blazing, telling us how much better XenApp is than VMware. Actually is printing that critical for published apps?

6. Big story about unified cluster F of desktop and mobile to counter VMware cluster F to be. Not a vision, a mess.

7. Really boring statements about how amazing Frame who gives a F Hawk. The revolutionary thing that is more of the same.  HDX blah blah.

8. Why Airwatch is just a start for VMware vs. Citrix complete delivery picture. Audience scratches balls.

9. A lot about how XD/XA are now cloud ready and kill Desktone. Actually Citrix as a cloud service would be cool!

10. People leave feeling good and then realize it’s more of the same and Citrix have done little to solve big problems.