Citrix outlines channel priorities for 2017 at Summit partner event

Citrix’s new global channel chief also indicates that some simplifications of the program are in the works to make it easier to do business with Citrix – but likely not until 2018.

Craig Stilwell, Citrix’s Vice President of Worldwide Partner Strategy & Sales

At their Summit event for channel partners in Las Vegas today, Citrix laid out its channel agenda for the year ahead. Three elements highlighted the strategy – the Secure Workspaces Suite, cloud networking and NetScaler, and aligning better with Microsoft. Knitting them all together is the cloud.

“2017 will be the year we walk in the cloud with the channel, said Craig Stilwell, Citrix’s new Vice President of Worldwide Partner Strategy & Sales. “In 2016 we crawled here. In 2018 we will run. Partners began to be aligned with what we were doing in the cloud in 2016. The change now, beginning to walk in the cloud, means we expect that they will begin the transition to the cloud in a more meaningful way in 2017.”

Stilwell said that there has been a lot of enablement from a services perspective, focused on those three sales priorities.

“First, we are asking partners to lead with the Workspace Suite,” he said. “This will involve positioning the value of the Citrix cloud to new and existing clients. The goal here is to compete against VMware.”

To this end, Citrix is announcing new Smart Tools customers and partners deploying and configuring apps, desktops and mobile workspaces through Citrix Cloud. Smart Tools, which used to be called Citrix Lifecycle Management services, make it easier to deploy and manage Citrix workspaces and workloads. The new ones are Smart Check and Smart Scale, which simplify and accelerate the rollout of new virtual app and desktop services.

Citrix also announced a new Citrix Ready HCI Workspace Appliance Program. Atlantis Computing and HPE are the first vendor members. They have collaborated with Citrix on a new turnkey virtual appliance aimed at the midmarket, the HPE Intelligent Edge Workspace.

The second priority is cloud networking.

“We want partners to continue to attack with NetScaler and SD-Wan,” Stilwell said. “We are looking for them to use NetScaler to break into new customers. We want them to compete and win against F5 in this space.”

The related programmatic announcement here is the integration by Citrix and Microsoft of Citrix NetScaler Unified Gateway with Microsoft Intune. This will let IT admins check for compliance and the state of the end user device, in order to provide policy based access control and VPN capabilities to on-prem applications.

Last, and certainly not least, comes a call to work more closely with Microsoft.

“We want partners to align better with Microsoft in the field, and want our partners to be better partners with Microsoft,” Stilwell said. “In particular, we want them to work more closely with Skype for Business, with Windows 10 VDI, and with NetScaler for Azure and hybrid clouds.”

To support this, Citrix is introducing new packages to transition from on-premises licenses to Citrix Cloud for existing customers, services that enable Citrix and Microsoft customers to deploy Windows 10 desktops on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, and services to deploy apps directly on Azure, as well as those Smart Tools to simplify the deployment of new workspaces.

“As well, we have a services offering coming out from our Services Group, a Partner Services Delivery certification,” Stilwell stated. “Our services team will go over some of the details at the event.”

Stilwell, who took over the channel chief role in early December after his predecessor, Kimberly Martin, left the company, becomes the third person to fill the role in a little over a year. He is a long-time [17 years] Citrix veteran who was Vice President of Americas Channel Sales & Field Operations between 2003 and 2011 before moving to other sales roles, most recently VP of U.S. Commercial Sales.

“The program is much more complex today than when I was in the Americas channel role,” he said. “Back then the program was CAR [Citrix Advisor Rewards]. “We still have that today. Now though we have our Net New Partner Sourced program with additional margin for new opportunities. We have been running that for six months, and partners like it. In addition, there is Opportunity Registration for cloud networking, and CAR Plus and CAR Bonus, for partners who are specialists. Four of those five programs weren’t in existence when I was with the Americas channel.”

Long term – meaning 2018 – Stilwell would like to simplify that somewhat.

“The issue here is that it is possible to have one partner in all five programs, and participating at different levels in them,” he said. “That’s overly complex. I see 2018 as the opportunity for simplification, with this being on a longer term horizon. There is no concrete plan yet, but merging some of them together could make sense. It would help in creating some operational simplifications, because it’s especially complex when all those different orders go through distribution.”

So why not make the changes faster? Stilwell acknowledged there is a fine line to hew, given that partners like things simple, but also don’t like things being made simpler by dramatic change, or by reducing benefits.

“We want to be clear about what making it easier to do business with Citrix will mean,” he said. “That’s why I didn’t attempt to do any kind of simplification out of the gate. I want to do it right. I want to drive the right kinds of behavior from partners.”

Given that he is the third global channel chief in a relatively short time, Stilwell also is hopeful of bringing some stability to the role.

“I’ve been a bit of a fixture here at Citrix, so hopefully there will be some calmness,” he said.