Citrix looks to move beyond virtualization in articulating sales strategy at Summit

Citrix is emphasizing to partners this year that their Citrix Workspace for unified mobile data access should be positioned beyond the traditional virtualization market, in order to reach the more than two-thirds of organizations who don’t use virtualization at all.

Craig Stilwell, Citrix channel chief

Today, Citrix launches their Citrix Summit sales kickoff in Orlando, their annual gathering of both their channel and direct sales teams, with over 5,000 total attendees. This year, the message is somewhat different than it has been in past. While the Citrix has always been an application and desktop virtualization vendor, they are increasingly emphasizing that their portfolio now has the capability to move beyond virtualization, and want partners to articulate that message. They see this as significantly expanding their market share to the many customers who do not need virtualization.

“We really do believe that 2019 is the year Citrix will have the biggest opportunity that we have ever had,” said Craig Stilwell, Citrix’s VP of Worldwide Partner Sales. “Citrix has been an app and desktop virtualization company forever – and this we will continue to do. But this is the year that we break out beyond virtualization. With Citrix Workspace, we can serve customers who don’t need virtualization, and that’s 70 per cent of companies out there. We can give them the benefits of virtualization for computing done through SaaS, mobile apps and Web apps.”

The messaging and strategy this year is that Workspace is for all customers.

“It’s all about getting it to everyone,” Stilwell said. “We can increase our total addressable market by as much as 4x. we need to break away from being just a virtualization company and this is how we will go about it. To do this, it’s all about execution, and we will do lots of education and tons of enablement to accomplish this.”

Stilwell noted that the shift to a broader focus beyond virtualization wasn’t something that could have been done earlier, but was made possible by Citrix Workspace.

“At Synergy last year, we announced meaningful enabling technologies that would be in a browser, not virtualized as well as contextually aware security,” he said. “We also just announced the acquisition of Sapho, which allows us to increase the productivity of workers that are connected to a SaaS based application, by giving us the ability to stream recurring common workflows in a SaaS based application, outside virtualization.” The Sapho technology has been incorporated and is now part of Workspace at no additional cost.

Stilwell emphasized that this new strategy comes on top of significant successes in 2018, including the expansion of Citrix’s cloud and subscription services, which has been a top priority for the last two years,

“Last year, we completely revamped our channel program,” he said. “The old program was really five different ones meshed together, and was too complex. We simplified it to make it easier to do business with Citrix, and make it easier to bring more sellers into the mix, from within existing partners as well as from new partners. We wanted to build a program thoughtfully with cloud and the subscription model in mind, and we achieved this. Citrix Cloud grew by over 300 per cent year-over-year. For the first time, the Citrix CSP [Citrix Service Provider] program crossed 1.7 million active users per month in 2018.”

While Stilwell has only been the Citrix channel chief since late 2016, he is celebrating his 19th anniversary with the company, and recalled well Citrix’s past failed attempts to expand into the SMB market, with the acquisition of Kaviza, and even Citrix Fundamentals before that. The Citrix CSP strategy has finally brought the company into that space.

“That is what has helped us get down into the S part of SMB, and is the magic of how we are now addressing that market,” he said. “We have found all these little ISVs who would like to be SaaS providers, but their applications are Windows-based and they don’t have a way to take their app into the cloud. Citrix is the enabling technology behind making this happen. The growth in that business has been tremendous with the CSP motion, and Microsoft has been a big help in this.

“In addition, overall partner productivity was up 16 per cent, which is strong for a business of our size,” Stilwell added. “We also added 900 new partners who transacted with us for the first time. New partners tend to do smaller deals, so they are likely to show more momentum in the year ahead.”

Citrix Summit is typically the time when the company announces its new channel initiatives, although Stilwell emphasized that having just rebooted the program last year, they weren’t eager to make more big changes.

“There are some tweaks,” he said. “The program is a little less focused on renewal and a little more on driving value, by rewarding partners for getting customers up and running on driving usage and adoption within Citrix cloud. We had that huge cloud sales increase, and that 300 per cent growth. We trained partners to go after those deals very aggressively, and they did an amazing job. But I want to make we don’t wind up in a situation, where they take their eye off that ball with the customers they have acquired.”

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