Citrix is a security company: Citrix Canada’s Michael Murphy

In a wide-ranging discussion of where Citrix is headed in the Canadian market, their country manager also identifies key issues with competition, mobility, storage, and the impact of recent announced changes to the partner program.

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Michael Murphy, vice-president and country manager of Citrix Canada

Michael Murphy, vice-president and country manager of Citrix Canada, ran Symantec’s Canadian operations for a decade and a half, so he knows a thing or two about security. Murphy believes that his present employer is also a security company as well, and that requires some explanation.

“People don’t associate Citrix with security, but with what we solve with remote access, desktop virtualization and mobility, it has always been underpinned by ‘security by design,’ Murphy recently told ChannelBuzz. “One of the biggest failings in security is it isn’t a point-in-time thing. It needs to be updated constantly. If you look at a virtualized environment, I don’t need to secure thousands of devices, I get to secure ONE, and that secures them all. It’s much easier to patch and update. Based on that, I become more secure, because it’s not thousands of endpoints that have to be protected.”

Murphy has made it a key priority this year to educate the Canadian marketplace how Citrix can help with their security issues.

“We need to amp this up, and help people see how Citrix can help them be more secure,” he said. “Given my background, I’m trying to raise that message about security by design, as part of a much broader message around security and mobility.”

Murphy also pointed out another challenge for Citrix in the Canadian mobility market – BlackBerry.

“BYOD, mobility, remote workforce – all of them have been gaining some traction in Canada, but not at the same pace as the U.S.” he said. “Blackberry is still prevalent in Canada. It’s a national institution. A lot of companies still believe in it, and to that degree, it inhibits many people from choosing their own device. Whether it is more secure of not, there is a perception it is, so I think BlackBerry will do just fine in the Canadian enterprise and corporate space in the next one to three years. Over time, however, I do think Canadians will embrace a new way of consuming technology, being mobile, remote and productive at the same time.”

Murphy expressed satisfaction at how Citrix in Canada was able to withstand a major push last year by VMware into the virtual desktop space, the one area of virtualization where VMware is not the market leader

“I’ve been at Citrix three years now, and when I started, people defined virtualization as VMware,” he said. “In the data centre and the hypervisor world, they are massively number one, although they are losing a little bit of market share there to Microsoft, Red Hat and even Citrix. Outside the data centre, however, where virtualization is equally important, we are number one, with about 70 per cent share, and it continues to grow.”

Murphy acknowledged that many channel partners in Canada sell both Citrix and VMware, but said that because Citrix is still growing outside the data centre, selling Citrix lets partners take more net-new business.

“Partners who sell both of us tend to position Citrix for the endpoint, and let the customer choose the hypervisor,” he said. “I’m less concerned about capturing market share in the data centre than I am about mobility, remote and workplace services, ensuring people have secure access to their apps and data however they choose to work.

Murphy is also confident Citrix’s long, close relationship with Microsoft will continue, even though Microsoft now competes with Citrix in that key mobility space, with Office for iPad.

“There is competition, but they are still a stronger partner than they are a competitor, so even calling it co-opetition might be too strong, because it leans more on the co-operation side,” he said. “Those are just apps, and at the back end, it’s still Exchange, and I don’t see Exchange in the cloud damaging Citrix’s business. Exchange works better on the same network where clients are provisioned, so proximity matters, and the experience people get from their remote client won’t be satisfactory. There is no better way to provision Outlook email than with Citrix being part of the solution.”

Murphy also sees a boost to Citrix’s business coming from its acquisition last month of Sanbolic, a software-defined storage vendor which plays in the virtualization space.

“It is something that had been missing from our solution, as our competitors have had a virtualized storage solution on the back end to improve performance,” he said. “We had been doing this through partnerships.”

While there has been some speculation that Citrix will use this more efficient storage subsystem to develop its own hyperconverged products, as VMware is doing, Murphy doesn’t see that strategy on the horizon.

“I don’t think we will sell it as that kind of product,” he said. “I think it will be bundled into XenApp and XenDesktop, so that we will not monetize it directly, but as part of an overall solution. It will help partners by gives them more choice, compared to using a third party solution or standing it up themselves.”

Murphy also indicated that the massive changes announced to Citrix’s partner program in January, which includes a new system of specializations, is being welcomed by Citrix’s key Canadian partners.

“Hopefully this brings some new partners into the mix, but our existing partners are energized by the specializations that help them differentiate from the more reseller type of partners,” Murphy said. “Many felt the pure resellers interloped on their ability to make margin, and with this we are saying we agree, you deserve to make more.”