Citrix advice to partners: Follow the apps!

While Citrix did not unveil any new technology products at its Summit event, it did talk extensively about its product strategy.

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Bill Burley CVP and Acting GM, Workspace Services at Citrix, onstage

LAS VEGAS – At Citrix Summit this week, the vendor has been articulating the changes in its overall go-to market strategy [focus on core] and in its partner strategy [Citrix Heart partners]. In its technical previews and tech talk sessions, the company is also imparting a clear message to partners, to take advantage of a growing opportunity around apps, particularly those outside the Microsoft universe.

“You have got to follow the apps,” said Bill Burley CVP and Acting GM, Workspace Services at Citrix. For Citrix of course, that’s not a new concept. Its something they have been doing around Windows for 25 years. The big difference today however, is the growth here of browser-based apps.

“More and more browser based apps are driving growth and opportunity,” Burley said. “They are now past 50 per cent of what’s being delivered for businesses today.”

Burley then addressed an important rhetorical question – why would anyone need Citrix to handle browser-based apps.

“There are security issues,” he said. “There can be a challenge managing all the changes and updates, and dealing with data left in cache.” Other apps can have compatibility issues because they were designed for older browsers. Citrix’s new Browser Apps Service addresses these challenges by providing secure remote access to quickly provide Web and SaaS apps to end users.

“We’d like to future proof your browser apps with the Browser Apps Service, which is the easiest and most secure way to deliver web and SaaS applications,” Burley said.

Tech-savvy Citrix partners will already be familiar with the Browser Apps Service. XenApp under the covers and customized for browsers, it has been accessible as a tech preview since last August. Citrix is, however, announcing three new things around the service here.

“The first thing is that the service is going live this quarter,” said Calvin Hsu, VP, Product Marketing, Citrix Desktops and Apps at Citrix. “It’s the first time people can purchase it as a fully hosted service.”

Secondly, while the preview to date had only been as a Workspace Cloud Labs service, Brower Apps Service will be available on-prem if the customer wants that option.

“This has been the first time an on-prem version has been available,” Hsu said.

The third new element is a browser optimization kit. While the cloud pricing will be as low as 20 dollars per user per month, and the on-prem version will be 150 dollars per user/device, the optimization kit will come free with XenApp and XenDesktop.

“The browser optimization kit will open this up to new users in each company,” Burley said.

Other non-Windows app opportunities Burley discussed included Chrome, which he stressed is now expanding into the mainstream beyond its initial base in education, and virtual Linux.

“You can deliver Windows apps to make Chrome more valuable,” Burley told partners. “Chrome momentum is about getting Windows apps delivered to Chrome. It’s the thin client for today.”

Burley said that the Apps service enhances Linux, which 80 per cent of Citrix customers already have, by consolidating Linux and Windows.

“It will also help to penetrate new industries like oil and gas,” he said.

Microsoft is still the primary opportunity, Burley stressed.

“We are more aligned than ever with Microsoft,” he said. “Skype is a huge opportunity, with more than 100 million Lync users migrating to Skype. The opportunity here isn’t just big businesses. Midmarket and small businesses will get rid of their phones and move to Skype.”

Delivering apps remotely is another Microsoft opportunity partners need to jump on now, Burley said. Windows Server 2016, which has gone into tech preview, and will be available later this year, is another strong opportunity. And Windows 10 he said was probably the strongest opportunity of all this year.

Finally, Burley indicated that Citrix’s product development strategy had undergone a significant change to place much more emphasis on verticals.

“We changed our thinking in 2015 to make this happen,” he said. “We took a real hard look at vertical markets on the product side. Previously, we were still designing products horizontally. But we needed to understand use cases better.”

Burley cited unique capabilities for health care and financial services as examples. Health care benefits included the addition of things like EMR deployment, instant logon, and speech recognition. Financial services benefits from new clipboard security granular policies, jailbreak detection without MDM, Skype for Business, remote access to physical PCs, and Bloomberg keyboard support. All of these things, Burley said, had applicability beyond those specific verticals, but packaged for those verticals, they had considerably more power. Burley also said that product managers had been aligned to specific industries to take ownership.

“This Citrix isn’t the old Citrix,” he said.