Citrix, Microsoft announce major expansion of long-term partnership

Key elements include Azure becoming Citrix’s preferred cloud platform, and Microsoft Skype for Business now being optimized for the Citrix VDI environment, the only one to receive this preferred treatment.


Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Enterprise and Client Mobility at Microsoft.

LAS VEGAS – Citrix and Microsoft have announced several measures which expand their partnership, around a broad spectrum of solution sets, including Microsoft Azure, Windows 10, Office 365, and mobility strategies.

“This is the most significant partnership announcement we have done with Microsoft in our history,” said Kiril Tatarinov, Citrix’s CEO – and a former senior Microsoft executive, who was there between 2002 and 2015, the last eight years of that running their Microsoft Dynamics ERP unit. “This really unlocks our partnership.” He indicated this applied to both the field level, where it should improve things like joint field execution, as well as the product side, where he expects to see a really tremendous wave of innovation resulting from the deal.

Bill Burley, Citrix’s Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Workspace Services, said that this extension of the Microsoft partnership is far more comprehensive than in the past because it encompasses four big areas.

“First, it helps Windows 10 get delivered, because when you move to a new operating system, virtualization goes up, not down,” he said. “The other areas are Office 365, private and public cloud, and mobility. There has been a bit of a rub between the companies when it comes to mobility in the past. We are going to normalize that and come together so the consumer gets the best experience.”

“Customers have told us that they want us to help accelerate their move to the cloud,” said Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Enterprise and Client Mobility at Microsoft.

“Citrix has selected Microsoft Azure for its preferred and strategic cloud for its future product roadmap. Azure is where they will center their cloud investments going forward.”

This will in turn lead to further services.

“For example, Citrix over the next year will build an enterprise mobility service on Azure and we will share data on the back end,” Anderson said. “Moving forward, Citrix will deliver “as-a-service solutions” hosted in Azure for all of their customers.”

Microsoft and Citrix also announced concrete new moves to drive Windows 10 sales.

“Over 85 per cent of enterprise organizations are actively piloting Windows 10,” Anderson said. “As part of the expanded partnership, Microsoft and Citrix will offer customers flexible options to deploy Windows 10 Enterprise within their organizations.”

Anderson said that later this year, Citrix will offer Windows Enterprise per user customers the option to manage their Windows 10 Enterprise Current Branch for Business images on Azure through its XenDesktop VDI solution.

“This will help customers deploy virtual apps or desktops and, along with existing Citrix’ migration services, accelerate Windows 10 adoption for those customers who are using Microsoft Cloud solutions,” Anderson said.

Anderson also stressed that Citrix and Microsoft have taken measures to reduce what has been the most expensive and time-consuming part of an enterprise deployment of Windows – app compatibility testing. Citrix now offers AppDNA that can quickly help identify any compatibility issues with apps and offer recommendations on how to address them, thus reducing the time needed to prepare for Windows 10.

“Citrix has integrated with ConfigMgr in a way that allows XenApp apps to appear as another application type that ConfigMgr can deploy,” he said. “The Citrix Connector for System Center ConfigMgr enables ConfigMgr to be that ‘single pane of glass’ for managing all types of applications. This setup enables scenarios where ConfigMgr can publish apps directly to Citrix Receiver. With AppDNA and the proven virtualization capabilities of Citrix, you can confidently accelerate the move to Windows 10 for your organization. And, with the ConfigMgr integration, you can manage all apps on Windows 10 devices with a single console.”

The companies also announced measures to accelerate the move to Office 365, particularly around Skype for Business.

“The Skype for Business team was told they needed to be optimized in the Citrix environment, and now it is in Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop environments,” Anderson said. “This is the only VDI solution Skype for Business has been optimized for.”

Burley stressed that this optimization raises Citrix to a new level in terms of its ability to support Skype for Business, and thus Office 365.

“You have to use Citrix with Skype for Business,” he said. “It’s the only way to get it done, and it could save an enterprise tens of millions of dollars.”

The two companies announced multiple integrations to expand enterprise mobility capabilities. Citrix and Microsoft are integrating Citrix XenMobile and NetScaler with the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS.) Citrix NetScaler will also integrate with EMS to provide virtual private network capabilities for more secure, identity-based access to on-premises applications on Microsoft Intune-managed devices. Furthermore, the Citrix Worx Mail and Forms applications, ShareFile enterprise file share and sync and Citrix Receiver will support EMS, so customers can manage and secure these mobile app experiences using the same mobile application management capabilities used to manage Office 365 and SAP Fiori apps.

“Citrix is integrating with EMS in two big ways,” Anderson said. “Citrix will be enlightening their apps on iOS and Android with the Intune App SDK, and will be building in support for Azure Active Directory for identity. These apps, and the fact that Intune can also manage and configure AppConfig-enabled apps, makes this the largest managed app ecosystem in the industry. All Citrix apps will be EMS enabled. This means that this largest app system in the industry is now all in the XenMobile world.”

Anderson said that future collaboration will also include Citrix building a new EMM service on Azure that will integrate with and add value to EMS. A big area of focus will be on compliance and industry verticals with significant regulatory requirements.