It’s been amazing to watch the flurry of blogs and press articles flying around the Internet about the upcoming VMworld conference next week. There’s been rampant speculation about a huge blowout fight that reportedly erupted between Citrix and Microsoft on one side… and show sponsor VMware on the other. Articles have referred to “dustups“, “swords drawn” and my personal favorite… a “flaming handbags at dawn fight.”  Wow… sounds like a scene right out of Pirates of the Caribbean, Part IV!

I love a good story as much as anyone, but the reality in this case is actually far less dramatic. Not only have there been no fireworks or fisticuffs between Citrix and VMware, there haven’t even been any sharp words exchanged. While Citrix obviously competes aggressively with VMware in the marketplace, no customer wants to see their strategic vendors resort to the kind of childish catfights or event boycotts that some stories have reported. While these speculations make for an entertaining read, it’s important to set the record straight.

Despite reports to the contrary, Citrix did not pull out of VMworld this year. Far from it. When VMware announced the availability of sponsorships for their San Francisco show earlier this year, Citrix promptly returned the paperwork requesting a Gold Sponsorship, just as we’ve done in previous years. VMware’s event management firm responded quickly (and very politely, I might add), informing us that due to “new guidelines”, Citrix was no longer allowed to sponsor the event. When we expressed our surprise at this change (again, very politely) we were informed that the most we could do this year is set up a small 10×10 booth. They also politely pointed out new guidelines for “non VMware partners” suggesting the appropriate use of product demos and activity in and around our booth to be sure we were aware of them. Apparently we weren’t the only ones singled out, as several other bloggers noted at the time.

In parallel, a couple of Citrix employees outside of corporate marketing inquired at a nearby hotel about the possibility of renting conference rooms to hold customer and user meetings, something we frequently do at large industry trade shows. With so many customers already in the area, we find events like this make a convenient venue to hold a variety of get-togethers with folks we normally see only over email or GoToMeeting. After hearing that we were from Citrix, however, the hotel informed us (also very politely) that Citrix was on a “do not rent to” list supplied to them by VMworld, so they could not support our request.

While we were admittedly a bit surprised by these changes and wish we had an opportunity to participate more broadly, I can assure you there were no swords, dustups or angry rants. And certainly no flaming handbags. We understand that VMworld is a proprietary event run by one vendor and agree they have every right to change the rules in any way they wish. Citrix respects that right and will comply with the terms of our show contract. At the end of the day, if customers want a more open event, they will have to give that feedback directly to VMware.

Meanwhile, I’m happy to confirm that Citrix WILL be exhibiting at VMworld. Attendees can find us in booth #1938 (a cute little 10×10 tucked in between Emulex and Netuitive… you can’t miss it). And while we may not be able to fit many people in our booth this year, I can assure you we have plenty of exciting things to talk about and would love to see each and every attendee stop by. We’ll even show you how to use our products with VMware if you like!

Most of all, I want to assure you that we’re not mad at anyone, including our friends at VMware. Life is too short for that. This is an exciting and vibrant industry with more than enough room for both of us. And there are an abundance of venues outside of VMworld to talk with customers and share our vision of a simpler, more open way of delivering IT as an on-demand service.

I’d also like to be the first to personally extend an offer to VMware (or any other virtualization, networking or cloud vendor, for that matter) to sign up now to sponsor our upcoming Synergy 2010 conferences next year. We’d be delighted to have you as a silver, gold or even platinum sponsor… whatever your budget allows! If you sign up to sponsor both Synergy San Francisco in May and Synergy Berlin in October, in fact, I’ll even give you a great package deal! I’d also like to invite any of the smart folks at VMware, or anywhere else out there, to submit session topics for next year’s Synergy events. An open Call for Papers will be publicized broadly starting on September 8th with presenters chosen by a selection panel that includes folks from Citrix as well as independent industry analysts, publishers, bloggers and other thought leaders in the industry. Call us crazy, but we actually WANT competitors presenting at Synergy. It makes for a far richer and more interesting event for everyone. After all, we’re all working side-by-side at the same customers anyway, right?

And while I don’t mind poking a little fun at our friends at VMware for their overly sensitive guidelines this year (c’mon guys…what are you afraid of?), I’ll be the first to admit that Citrix has made our share of silly paranoid moves in the past as well. It’s easy to do when you’re in a highly competitive industry and passionate about your products, as both of us undoubtedly are. But I can promise you that we’re doing our best here at Citrix to be more open, more transparent and more inclusive. Thanks to all 230,000 of our customers for their business. We’ll see you all next week at VMworld in booth #1938… just please don’t all try to come at the same time!

Kim Woodward

VP of Corporate Marketing (and proud exhibitor at VMworld 2009)

Citrix Systems, Inc