Citrix published a blog post yesterday asking how you’d allocate $100 for improving XenDesktop, XenApp, and HDX with the hopes that they can get a better idea of what their customers’ priorities are with regards to their flagship products. I like this exercise because it doesn’t just give attention to the people that complain the loudest. Rather, it asks everyone to put their figurative money where their mouth is. You have $100. Spend wisely.
While reading that post, I thought back to a conversation Jim Moyle and I had at BriForum. If you’ll recall back at Synergy when Citrix Workspace Services was announced, we were told that they would leverage Azure partners. This doesn’t sound far off from the Citrix DaaS model today, whereby Citrix puts customers in contact with one of their thousands of partners. The problem with this model is that the customer bears the responsibility of finding a partner that has a DaaS offering, and while there might be a local partner for services, they may have to look elsewhere for a DaaS solution.
Leveraging Azure partners for CWS sounds like it's leading down the same path. I worry that if a customer wants to use CWS, they’ll need to track down a partner that not only does Azure, but also CWS. In fact, they may need to talk to two or three partners and get them to work together. That means that in addition to re-architecting their environment, not to mention migrating users and other platforms, the customer has to find multiple dance partners. That’s a pretty big job, especially when competitors are putting together point-and-click solutions that require little more than a website. Seriously! Time how long it takes to sign up for a trial AWS desktop, Horizon DaaS desktop, and Citrix DaaS desktop. The answer will be 20 minutes, 20 minutes, and...uh...who do I call exactly?
(Yes, CWS is more than just desktops, but don’t for one second think that other companies aren’t working on similar solutions)
The more we talked about the complexity, the more it became obvious that Citrix shouldn’t just leverage the Azure partners–they should "broker" them. They should totally hide the partner network from the end user and present a single, unified interface to the offering. The customer should be able to call Citrix, say “Give me 100 of those, 50 of those, and 4000 of those,” and let Citrix worry about how to spread all of that around to partners. In fact, the only time the end user should care is if they want to host the stuff on site in local Azure nodes or if they host stuff on-prem (since it's a control plane that combines local, cloud, and in-between). Sure, some companies will want to get their hands dirty, so give it an “Advanced Mode,” but the totally automating (or hiding) the process will surely appeal to some of the lower hanging fruit.
So if I had $100 to spend on CWS, obviously I’d spend a huge chunk of it on making sure the platform is everything we want it to be, but I’d put a sizeable amount into the on-boarding and partner brokering processes, too. Citrix is wisely staying away from being an actual service provider, but companies still want to deal with Citrix instead of sifting through every Azure/Citrix partner looking for the right ones.
I suspect there are some negative implications on the channel with a solution like this (not that that’s anything new), so if you’re a channel partner I’d love to hear about your thoughts on this (both this idea and the CWS/Azure thing in general). Feel free to create anonymous accounts.