My name is Rick Braddy. I been with Citrix for about 5 years as of this posting. It been an incredibly exciting ride – one that just keeps getting better and going faster…
My first week with Citrix was attending iForum in Orlando in October, 2001. At this particular iForum, Citrix introduced its Workplace vision, which included showing that thought-provoking Virtual Workplace video (that I ended up seeing so many times I could almost recite it word for word at one point).
In a word, I was in awe at what I saw. Now I was really excited! This looked like an incredible opportunity to change the world…Little did I know just how much this video would affect the trajectory of our products…
At the time, I was in a product strategy role, having just joined as Citrix Director working for our then CTO, Bob Kruger. At one point following iForum, I decided we needed to engineer what we saw in the Virtual Workplace (VW) figuring out what and technologies it would take to make it reality. Fortunately for us, we picked a few things we seen that were of real, sustainable value and focused on them (instead of trying to build a product that delivered exactly what the video conveyed). In particular, the business quality mobile video conferencing technology just wasn feasible (and still isn today, from what I seen, although it getting better).
It kind of interesting… some of the features and products that arose after that VW video included Smooth Roaming, aspects of Smart Access, single sign-on (Password Manager) and good ole MCM (that is, the MetaFrame Conferencing Manager . One of the most prominent aspects of the VW video was the compelling, futuristic collaboration vision. We all realized at the time Web Conferencing was really the way to go, but we chose not to pursue at the time (this was before Placeware was purchased later by Microsoft). Of course, we later acquired ExpertCity, with its then fledgling GoToMeeting product still under development at the time. We all know how that story has evolved – GoToMeeting really rocks! (making Web conferencing both affordable and easy)
Eventually, the impacts of the VW video began to fade away, as more pressing business and technology needs came to the forefront. In 2002, I took on the role of Citrix VP, Product Management. Things were about to get really interesting…
We were in the midst of finalizing Presentation Server 3.0, and had to choose what to focus on next for CPS 4. We had just introduced the Access Suite, which was basically a bundle of products that had little integration initially (today, it a nicely integrated product set). One of my most memorable moments in those days was while I was on stage at iForum/Orlando. I was playing the role of Rick in a skit where I showed the use of Smooth Roaming and GoToMeeting combined in a live demo to thousands of attendees.
Wow! What a rush! I managed to fumble the mouse at one point, losing focus on the target window and not noticing what had happened. It all turned out good (thanks to help from my compadre on stage), and from what I could tell, was somewhat entertaining for most everyone, including me that time, our top corporate imperative was standardization – becoming a standard piece of infrastructure for enterprises. At the time, therefore, it seemed like the obvious questions to ask were… ARE the barriers to enterprise standardization (for CPS)?
are the barriers to adoption in general? often heard you ask good questions, you get good answers the time, we didn know most of the answers to these simple questions – something that would change over the balance of that year. Our PM team became focused on answering the above two questions (in addittion to gathering more general customer needs). As I recall, the team met with partners and customers all across North America for months. We also spoke with customers and partners in EMEA and abroad…before long, we had a prioritized list of the biggest barriers to CPS adoption and enterprise consumption. Using this newfound knowledge, we set out to address these barriers as best we could in the time alloted for development of CPS 4. I was (and still am) extremely proud of the job our Product Management (PM) and development did defining and delivering CPS 4 product.
As it happened at the time, our Advanced Products team was engaged in an advanced R project evaluating CPU and memory management technologies, in a project code named One of the key barriers that been identified by PM was density per server, as this directly affects TCO and capital costs for the farm. CPS 4 requirements and the project coincided nicely. As it turned out, we would license both CPU and memory management technology for CPS 4, which resulted in a nominal 25% increase in user density. As fortune has done over the years, it smiled once again…
Microsoft was working on their x64 version of Windows Server 2003. It wasn long and we forked our development team and had created project Argo – the x64 port of CPS 4, which was planned for 6 to 9 months following release of CPS 4. Today, x64 chips are the defacto standard server platform, with tests showimg awesome user density improvements as high as 300% in some cases. These days, running 32 bit apps under a 64 bit Windows Server operating system should be the default approach taken (especially for new farms), since the 64 bit OS platform manages memory so much better than its 32-bit predecessor (and kernel memory is one of those things in a multi-user OS you just can seem to have too much of).
When combined with the Maloo technologies, the number of users that could be supported per server increased markedly – yielding the TCO improvements many enterprises needed. The CPU management technologies are really key, as they smooth out CPU spikes and provide more for additional users (in the past, application startup spikes would trash a server CPU, drastically reducing the number of users that could be supported). In addition, better CPU management provides a more consistent user experience by reducing service variability.
Among the top adoption barriers identified by customers back then were:
- Improved user density per server
- Better application compatibility, especially for non-TS compliant apps
- Unique IP addresses per user session (many apps assume a unique IP address for each user; e.g., IM, PDA Sync. and many more)
- Printing – there were still numerous gaps in printer support, so we decided to completely redesign the print subsystem…
- Enhanced USB device support for cameras and PDA rest is history. We listened and responded. CPS 4 shipped in May 2004, addressing all of these top barriers (plus some other cool features). By that time, I was in an acting role as VP, Product Marketing and Product Management – doing something I never dreamed of…launching CPS 4 in Munich, Edinburgh and South Africa that year.Another piece of credit for our successful CPS 4 and overall product strategy goes to our Customer Council, along with Corporate Marketing team who enables those awesome events to happen twice a year. I recently read things where some people apparently think Citrix doesn listen to its customers…
Well, without blogging, I sure we been unable to connect as broadly and deeply as we prefer, but I assure you our Customer Council has seen the tremendous we made addressing their biggest concerns and issues over the years. In fact, I been told on many occasions by customers how well Citrix listens and actually acts on their input. Many of these customers involved in customer forums for other companies, and typically don see the kind of responsiveness they do from Citrix.
In addition to our Customer Council, we meet regularly with all types and sizes of customers, gathering a broad view of our market. I hopeful that through increaesed blogging, we open up the lines of communications at a level of granularity and frequency that can enable us to become even more aware of and responsive to the market and our customers needs.
One thing for sure, though. It always tougher than it seems from afar to make the difficult tradeoffs required in any product release. There always limited time, and limited resources available, to invest in every product that built. Based on the results, it clear to me that CPS 4 hit the mark exactly as we planned. We continuing to evolve the CPS 4 platform (a topic for another day, perhaps from our PM team).
My hat off to the CPS 4 team for the incredible job with the product. Of course, there always more to do… for example, the re-write of the printing subsystem was absolutely necessary and the right thing to do. Anytime you completely redesign a complex, mature of enterprise software, one thing is almost assured – there going to be some unforseen issues crop up. Fortunately, the CPS 4 print system is now very solid and dependable, as well as robust, especially when the latest hotfixes (HRP) are applied.
As you can tell, I quite passionate about Presentation Server. It been the company bread and butter for over a decade. It simply an awesome product and technology. I often amazed the business issues are able to use it to address (we be talking about many of those in future blog postings). In fact, there so many real-world uses for CPS, at one point (while in my prior Product Marketing role), I decided we needed to write as many of them down as possible – documenting the army knife blades, so to speak.
In case you not aware of it, you can find many of the top uses for CPS (and Citrix other products) in the form of what we call Answers I highly recommend taking a few moments to have a look at them if you haven recently. Our Access Answers are really taking off, with downloads soaring and breaking new records every month. Another great place to see how broadly applied CPS is today are the many Case Studies available on Citrix.com.
There was a six month period in 2005 where I took on a dual role of VP, Product Services and Product Line Executive for our IdM business, focused primarily on Password Manager. During that time, I had a lot of fun working on our CPM product and business strategy, and with our localization, pubs, UI design and process teams.
Today, as the CTO of the Virtualization Systems Group (VSG) at Citrix, I now responsible for our group business and technology strategy, product architecture, intellectual property and patents, competitive intelligence and technical marketing areas. It a heck of a lot of fun, working with a tremendously talented team here at Citrix.
In case you wondering, the VSG group is responsible for our application and desktop virtualization products, including Presentation Server, Access Essentials and the Access Suite, and Password Manager. VSG is also responsible for Project Tarpon (streaming/isolation for desktops), other new products we planning and contemplating from time to time.
Well, it about time to close this entry off and call it a day (or a night, perhaps).
In closing this entry, I just reiterate that in my five years with Citrix, there never been a more exciting time filled with more new challenges and big opportunities. Today, I see more the marketplace for Citrix and our teams than ever before in our history.
The best is definitely yet to come – it a whole lot of fun being a part of it. And it be even more fun sharing it with everyone through our blogs as we move forward.