Exclusive: Brian Madden's video interview with Citrix Desktop CTO Harry Labana

Last week I interviewed Citrix's desktop CTO Harry Labana. Like VMware's desktop CTO Scott Davis (who I interviewed yesterday), Harry's also only been on the job about six months. We talked about Harry's background and how how got to be CTO, and then focused extensively on Citrix's desktop strategy. We talked about how XenDesktop is used today as well as the future of their various technologies, including user personality, BYOPC, Mac clients, data replication, and app virtualization.

From a technical standpoint, since I over-exposed Scott in the last interview, I think I might have over-compensated a bit and under-exposed Harry. It's not too bad really, but to quote Gabe, "I tried like hell to get Harry's hair to show up against the background, but they're just too close." Point taken. Maybe next time I'll try a different color background. Thanks to Gabe again for editing together these camera shots. We also shot this interview with multiple cameras straight-through, except for one quick edit we made to remove me looking into the camera saying, "Is my head showing?" (The answer was 'yes.')

NOTE REGARDING VIDEO PLAYBACK: I think we've fixed the issues with the video playback, so I'm going to delete those comments so new readers can focus on the content-related stuff. But if you still have video playback issues, please post them.

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Love this guys background, insight and attitude, vastly different to VMware's CTO.


To me, this speaks to the focus and strengths (or lack there of) of each companys VDI product.


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I had a dream : for non english native speaker, to get a transcript, a summary or a list of the key bullet point discussed in the interview... Difficult to get concentrated on the voice, simplier to read and reread...


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@Kata - Thanks for the suggestion - we're looking into getting it transcribed.


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Wow! Thanks guys, Brian & Gabe and the star himself, Harry Labana.


I just love the whole reasoning and back to real-life aspect. Awhile I by no necessity agree on all, I gotta tell, I plain out like Harry and his approach. My credits!


Until the brightcove issues (actually, just the problem with the frontend player) gets solved, here's a direct media link:


brightcove.vo.llnwd.net/.../1367663370_66921024001_Harry4.mp4


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This is one of the best interviews I've seen on desktop virtualization.


Harry Labana is one of the great minds and spokespersons in our industry. He has a unique blend of technical vision, operational pragmatism, business/political/organizational understanding, and ability to think in time (market/customer maturation curve).


Citrix made a brilliant move picking him up.


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Wow, it is amazing how single-minded you people are. The majority of the posters here are obviously pro-citrix, it is a given, but you could show some more respect to Scott Davis. Most of you have but a slim clue about any key technologies outside your narrow Presentation Server / TS field of expertise (as witnessed on here by reading numerous rants that, although humorous and good time waster have no real value) - so how can you show disrespect to Scott?


If you want to influence anyone outside the Citrix community, you should be more courteous to the players in the industry otherwise noone else will read this blog.


Citrix is falling behind, it is run by an old boys club who have little clue how to win this market.


I mean, you can rant all you want but you cannot dispute the simple fact that citrix completely missed the boat and gave up the market leader position in desktop application delivery and now has to fight tooth and nail to even stay relevant.


Vmware will bury Citrix no matter what you say or do. I listened to Harry Labana and I really heard nothing new beside what citrix has been saying the last 10 years. ICA, HDX, user profiling , blah blah blah - same sh1t that I heard 10 years ago. VMware is in a completely different league than citrix - Hell I am sure they would buy Citrix for their ICA protocol if it was not for Microsoft. instead they will just improve PCoIP WAN performance one or two releases from now and that will be the end of it. VMware is a game changer... To us it is actually an affront to be compared to Citrix - they are not really on our radar. We go after Microsoft.


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People here, including myself, and Brian himself,  have obvious TS/MetaFrame roots, so, they are used to Citrix language.


I agree with System.Fracture here, but I would not go far enough to say VMware will bury Citrix.


Probably they will compere head to head, and no one will really dominate the market.


But the sympathy for Citrix among the commenters, here, and on Scot's interview  , is obvious everywhere.


Why don't we look at the market, and see if Citrix is doing so well ??? Hell no ....


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@system.fracture


I understand your reflection - to a certain point.  I won't take cheap shots or easy target at your comment,


I know you usually comment in more balanced way.


Anyway, I'm about certain that Brian willaccept a guest article from you, voicing your concerns, if somewhat more cohersive.


Please bear in mind that we are all friends, Ýou too!


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@systemfracture


AGSI is a systems integration (SI) company that works closely with large enterprise clients on projects involving multiple mfgs, including Citrix, VMWare, and Microsoft. To say that VMWare only focuses on Microsoft, and will bury Citrix is disingenious at best.


While I have appreciated the technology from VMWare for many years, there is a definite hole when it comes to the desktop virtualization side of things. We see many clients that continue to use ESX/VSphere on the server virtualization front - but choose XenAPP/XenDesktop to virtualize the apps and now the desktop OS (as appropriate0.


If you have valid, thought out, and supportable comments - please make them here, as I think all would like to openly discuss them. If you just want to lash out and rant, making baseless comments,  try to find something else to do with your time.


Robert Morris


rmorris@agsi.us


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@Robert Morris


ASGI was not mentioned anywhere, as such you're totally out of line with your blatant markering comments.


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@Kimmo


I was trying to establish the fact that I work for a company that works with large enterprise clients, and also represents both sides. Sorry that you felt a small reference to the company name was some sort of blatant marketing thing worthy of a call out. Hopefully you can focus on real issues now.


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Now that I’ve had a chance to watch this video as well, I can actually comment.


Firstly, I commend both Harry and Scott for walking into the lions Den. I am sure this is never easy, and your participation is appreciated. So now what did I think:


Night and day difference in understanding and approach which is a huge boon for Citrix. I agree with Ryan and Kimmo here. I also appreciated not trying to dodge the question and actually expressing an opinion. However I will take issue with the thinking around Reverse Seamless and HDX Connect.


Reverse Seamless. Understand it is complex, but that’s exactly what makes it f’ing valuable. Fair push back on how complex should it be. My 2C start with complex multi media and some simple apps. Just f’ing start. This feature is badly needed to address exception use cases. Without it the few exception apps like the entire story. Lack of this feature prevents strategic adoption, and keeps adoption to niche areas. Just F’ing do it will you!


HDX Connect. The broad customer base push back is fair once again, but does not mean that you should F the ones that can and are willing to move fast now. You broker scalability is sh1t, PVS sucks balls, too many consoles etc, make it impossible for me to adopt at scale. I totally buy that you will keep making incremental progress to get this stuff fixed over time, but get really pissed off when you prevent me from going faster now. Just make this a f’ing option in a product skew so your revenue is protected if that is the concern. Right now the value is HDX, everybody knows that, while you build new value you must allow us to adopt faster. If not, we will go elsewhere or give up. So come on, get those f’ing PM guys to wake up and let them know that their sh1t does not scale and is stopping me from broad deployment!!!!!!!!


@system.fracture. Dude I have to totally disagree with you here, not your usual standard of give them hell for good reasons. It’s nothing to do with showing disrespect to Scott, it’s about VMWare disrespecting customer needs and putting out horsesh1t that does not work and then marketing the F out of it on the back of ESX. It’s a disservice to the industry and their product is not ready nor does it work. What innovation are they bringing to the table? Who’s implementing, really nobody is, it’s all shelveware. PCoIP is sh1t. I don’t see why you think Vmware is going to do anything. They can’t make money out of this and are focused on the datacenter, clould os, zimbra, open source. They know nothing about desktops, it’s fud to sell more Vcenter, nothing else.


@VMGuy, guess you don’t read the earning statements. It’s very clear who’s winning. Remember it is VMWare who has been kicking Citrix butt in the desktop mindshare space for years. Now that Citrix has woken up, started to invest, hiring smart people who understand the desktop, VMWare fanboys are getting nervous. I’ll predict right now, it’s not a two way horse in technology. Vmware are already so far behind. The fact most of the “VDI” pundits have not woken up to the fact that the majority of user are fine, cheaper, faster, NOW on XA is a  joke. I’ll predict that by the end of 2010, we will finally understand that as an industry and then rejig our numbers about market share etc.


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OT comment: my god please abandon this super crappy bcove flash player... was able to see the video using quicktime and the direct http url...


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So keeping On Topic here - clearly my previous comment on Scott's video upset someone - that wasn't my intention - merely a casual and slightly humourous observation...


Anyway - ignoring technology and comparing the two men interviewed, clearly Harry is the more confident and eloquent of the two, and could probably sell oil to the Saudis.


On a technology and vision front, Harry has a better story to tell - that's not just opinion, that's fact. As others have noted, Harry was more open, didn't dodge any questions and shared his own opinions - that's what he was employed to do, and does it well.


The difference between Citrix & VMware is that VMware says that everything that they do is great and is the best etc in the hope that people believe what they are saying - their marketing is fantastic. Citrix on the other hand know when something isn't great, don't make a lot of noise about it, and get on with fixing it so that it will become great, rather than embarking on a spin campaign.


Keep up the good work Harry, and thanks Brian, Gabe & team for the great interviews.


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I don't understand why people feel there's this huge dichotomy between what both CTOs said. From my perspective they both touched on pretty much the same things:


Both say they're constantly talking to customers.


Both agree that management is the key issue at hand and operational cost reduction is important.


Both believe that IT as a Service, or Consumption-based IT, is the means to this end.


Both feel that all use cases are different and can leverage different parts of their stack for different users.


Both are talking about the BYOPC use case.


Both acknowledge that there are shortcomings in their existing products and over time they will get better to address concerns.


Granted that Harry seems to be a bit more comfortable in the interview, and he manages not to begin every answer with "That's a great question" but when it comes down to substance I think both CTOs managed to stay on message and put forth their vision, to a degree.


It seemed to me Harry was much more about tactical specific things, perhaps a more technical conversation, whereas Scott's conversation seemed to be less technical and a lot more oriented on futures and direction....


Which leads me to wonder, why are the majority of comments on Scott's article about how awful VMware's vision is, and this one contains mostly Pro-Citrix position?


The tagline here may be about how BrianMadden.com is an independent source, and I would like to say Brian you did a great job interviewing both of them and were very even handed, but the commenters here don't seem to share the same philosophy.


Thanks for both interviews, they were very interesting to watch.


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NEW PAPER COMPARING BANDWIDTH USAGE BETWEEN VIEW AND CITRIX XENDESKTOP:


www.miercom.com


64% less bandwidth claimed when citrix used.


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Honestly, I didn't really think that this video interview with Harry Labana could be that interesting and would make me that curious even a couple of hours after I got exposed to it. Great job!


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