The last two days at Synergy San Francisco have been absolutely phenomenal – and for so many reasons. I’ll try my best to capture some of my favorite moments from Day Two here, including the keynotes and the Best of Synergy awards. You can find my recap of yesterday’s highlights here. You can also visit Synergy Live! for the streamed online version of the entire Citrix Synergy event! But read on for my “Cliff Notes” version.

Today kicked off with the Best of Synergy Award winners, an impressive group of partners that are pushing the boundaries of the “new IT” and taking companies from the PC era to the cloud era, as we’ve been discussing throughout the event. We received 45 incredible submissions, and a panel of esteemed judges from Computerworld, InfoWorld, IDG Enterprise and Citrix had the difficult task of selecting the winners in each category according to some pretty stringent criteria.

Best Partner Solution for Accelerating Cloud Adoption: this award recognizes the company that makes the cloud transformation process easier, faster and/or more secure.

  • Gluster was chosen because they provide a highly available, vastly scalable storage solution for the Amazon public cloud, proven to accelerate cloud adoption by enabling customers to migrate huge quantities of data between private and public clouds easily and transparently.

Best Partner Solution for Virtual Data Centers: goes to the company whose solution best leverages the virtualized data center to deliver IT as a service.

  • App-DNA was selected for their ability to create a workflow that simplifies and speeds migration with a focus on maintaining productivity during the process.

Best Partner Solution for Desktop Transformation: honors the partner that radically accelerates the deployment of desktop virtualization as demonstrated through a real customer example.

  • Abiquo garnered the win because they enable IT to more easily create private, public and hybrid clouds, leveraging the virtualized data center to deliver IT as a service while automating and managing the creation of the cloud.

And the coveted Best in Show award went to the company that provided a superior, horizontally scalable storage solution for the cloud. A solution that is ideal for large file storage and is highly affordable thanks to open source licensing, with the ability to virtualize diverse storage resources and deliver high performance in a cloud environment. Please join me in congratulating Gluster!!

After the awards presentation, we moved into a series of keynotes, which were notable for the charisma of the presenters as well as their content. Citrix CTO Simon Crosby promised to be irreverent as always. He used a competitive sailing analogy and Moore’s Law to describe the heightened pace with which IT must deliver innovation to customers and users. The traditional notion of locking down or limiting what employees can do is dead, since they’ll just figure out a way to go around you. Progressive IT pros must safely enable whichever apps and devices people choose and empower them with “follow me” apps and data. That’s how IT will live up to its mission to empower the user and protect the enterprise.

Next up was Wyse Technology’s president and CEO, Tarkan Maner, who shook up the crowd with his high-energy myth-busting. He laid out the Top 5 myths, trends and recommendations for cloud computing, emphasizing the best ways to get started, the importance of open standards, and why you should prioritize users, content, apps and policies.

Ironically, it was the presentation by the federal government that had me rolling in the aisle – who knew the government could be so funny? The Defense Intelligence Agency’s Mike Mestrovich, Senior Technology Officer for Innovation, also made an extremely compelling case for desktop virtualization. In just two years, his department has reinvented its approach to next-gen desktops, especially thin clients. Not only did his team eliminate inefficiencies on a massive scale, but they have “leapfrogged forward” (his words!) to support mobile devices and modern apps today and in the future. If the government can do it, certainly you can do it.

Simon then rejoined the stage to explain that the real public cloud exists today in Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, SoftLayer, Terremark, and many others. Thanks to Xen, Citrix is in all the public clouds, and we have learned from experience how to deliver a secure public cloud at 1/20th the cost it takes to build a private cloud. Why would you trust anyone else?

In fact, Simon called upon Zynga CTO Allan Leinwand to explain how the Internet game maker initially turned to the public cloud to handle their immediate infrastructure needs as the number of Farmville users exploded through the roof. As they learned to anticipate workload and demand, they decided to create their own private cloud built on Xen. Today’s Zynga hybrid infrastructure includes both public cloud (on Amazon) and their own private cloud (zcloud), architected and operated as one unified system. They went from concept to production in just six months and increased physical server capacity 75 times within two years.

As Simon says, that’s some extreme innovation. Is your organization ready?

With that, I will sign off by saying that Train was fabulous at the Synergy Party which rocked on with DJ Solomon at the helm late into the night.  Work hard, play hard and have fun doing it.  I just love Citrix!