After working at Citrix for about a week I thought it’d be fun to write a blog about what I was seeing: an openness of past mistakes, a massive pivot towards web-enabling and simplifying our offerings, and a vision for the future of the way we all work. I liked the idea of just sharing what I saw and so the first blog was born, it was a very easy blog to write as I was very much an outsider at the time and was happy to hear Citrix own up to its mistakes. I promised a second blog though, one on pivots within the company, this blog has been anything but easy to write.
One of the reasons I find it difficult to write a blog on pivots is that Citrix doesn’t own this; the entire industry is going through a pivot. We call this pivot many things: BYOD, the Internet of things, the webification of apps, and of course the cloud. In short, everything that most admins have been doing for the past several decades is changing.
Apple is the golden child of change. They were already designing great laptops when they invented the iPhone then the iPad and now the Apple Watch. They had the fortitude to look beyond the horizon of where they would go with their successful laptop business and choose to introduce devices that take us off our laptops. Most businesses run away from anything that could upset their core. Apple ran towards it, and we are all better off for it.
Citrix’s core product for many decades has been XenApp (MetaFrame, WinFrame) yet over the past several years we’ve pivoted with the industry. We’ve acquired and extended our market, from file sync and share solutions (ShareFile) to enterprise mobility management (XenMobile) to networking (NetScaler). Pivoting has been fundamental to our growth as a company. However, in all of these pivots XenApp/XenDesktop has remained much the same. Given the pivot that’s still happening in our industry, where should we go from here? Before I answer that I’d like to share some stories:
- I was at Nexenta’s OpenSDX summit a few weeks ago and a senior person from Well’s Fargo shared something on stage that most of the industry shrugs off. She said that Wells Fargo had no intention of releasing control of their data to a cloud provider. At the same time she did mention she was open to the cloud for some use cases.
- I was at Citrix Synergy’s Geek Speak where someone from the audience had a microphone and blasted anyone still building data centers. The crowd erupted in enormous applause, then a small voice picked up the microphone and said he wanted to go to the cloud (for desktops). He tried to go to the cloud but said it wasn’t financially viable. His question was completely ignored.
- I was at Gartner Catalyst last year where the CTO of President Obama campaign organization asked everyone to raise their hands that still had datacenters. He then berated everyone with their hand raised for wasting money.
I could share more stories, the theme would be the same. There are many pundits of the cloud era out there, then the reality sets in. Work still exists in the data center. Would we like to get it out of the data center and into the cloud? Absolutely! But its very difficult to flip a switch and be on AWS/Azure tomorrow. No one is debating that the cloud is the target, my contention is how we move from the data center to the cloud, and vise versa. I believe the answer to this is a massive undertaking, a pivot if you will, happening here at Citrix; that pivot has a name: Citrix Workspace Services (CWS).
CWS is a bridge to the cloud. One that enables customers to dial up or dial back what services they want on-prem, and which they are willing to push into the cloud. CWS isn’t a vision of how we are going to sell you on “our” cloud. Citrix doesn’t have one, it takes billions of dollars to make a successful massive scale cloud. This is why it takes a Microsoft, Amazon, or a Google to have the pockets to build one. On the other end of the spectrum is small and highly customizable cloud providers, which can cater their offering for a specific vertical or business. The point is that one cloud does not rule them all, however some clouds may bind you. Citrix believes in “anyness”, which traditionally has meant any device, over any network, connecting from any location, our goal with CWS is to add “any cloud” to that list.
This is not a vision, or a dream, this is the reality of what its like working inside these walls. I honestly don’t know a generic term that would fit what we are building, Citrix as a Service makes it sound like its just us, but long term this is much larger than just the services we offer. Windows as a Service focuses too much on one workload of many. Desktop as a Service, just rubs me the wrong way because a desktop is simple, a highly customizable experience (apps, data, personal) is so much more than just a desktop. We call it Citrix Workspace Services as a product. Mark Templeton likes to call it the software defined workplace.