Cisco held their Data Center Partner Connection event last week in Maui as a sort of annual sales kick-off for their best partners in the Americas.

I drew the “short straw” and represented Citrix at the event as a key sponsor (it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it).

The event kicked off with a bang, with Mötley Crüe founder Vince Neil took the stage on the first night and rocked out his best hits. The mini-concert was energetic and extremely loud as the hard-driving rock-n-roll rang out inside the modest ballroom through a sound system that was designed for a much larger arena. Over the next few days, the hard-charging concert atmosphere gave way to a more serene and business-like tenor on the Hawaiian island as Cisco and the event sponsors presented their key objectives for 2016.

Attendees at the event are responsible for about 80% of Cisco sales in the Americas. From Day 1 through the end of the week, “Digitization” was drumbeat of the event. This is a trend we have seen in recent months from a variety of industry leaders. Cisco sees many areas of opportunity in Digitization including:

  • Purpose-built killer apps and micro-services across all verticals. As businesses move in this direction, they will need more infrastructure and more expertise in creating and delivering these apps and services.
  • Business transformation and agility. By moving to a digitized state, businesses will become more efficient and agile, allowing for work/access from anywhere scenarios and reduction in unnecessary steps in critical business processes.
  • Better analytics. As companies are able to better digitize their processes, workflows, inventories and records they will benefit from new efficiencies that were hidden to them in the past when these things were handled manually.
  • An explosion of devices. We have heard this one before! As Digitization takes hold, more and more devices will become network-resident and/or network-aware (think IoT) and this will lead to a vast amount of items to track, manage and secure. This also applies to end user devices which will continue to proliferate faster than ever before.

The Cisco execs went on to highlight the importance of cloud, namely hybrid cloud for the foreseeable future. It’s going to be a hybrid world for at least a decade or so as businesses slowly transition some workloads to public cloud while maintain certain business critical or sensitive workloads on-premises. Cisco believes many businesses will want to build private clouds that mimic public cloud consumer-like experiences so that developers and departmental consumers of computing can have an alternative to public cloud for bursting and test scenarios.

This premise-based alternative is seen as having a few key benefits:

  • It is more secure than public cloud for what might be considered proprietary apps and data that companies do not want out in the open.
  • It provides the flexibility benefits of public cloud to the internal consumers, without the inherent risks.
  • It re-establishes IT as a value-added business partner that is providing a crucial service to the business.

Gartner estimates the hybrid cloud market will reach $85bn by 2019, while we have seen that about 75% of businesses still do not have a repeatable or rationalized cloud strategy. An illustrative example was given regarding Netflix. In their annual 10K filing, they disclosed that they have no real alternative to AWS should there ever be a system wide discontinuity with that service. They have no easy way to switch to an alternative provider should the need arise.

While the thought of the entire AWS system succumbing to a worldwide disaster sounds remote, this does raise the question that should be on the mind of all business leaders who are thinking of leveraging public or hybrid clouds.

Do you have a strategy for leveraging the best of all the public clouds that are out there? Is your platform and control plane nimble enough to help you easily transition workloads from one cloud to another should the need arise (or economies dictate it)?

Citrix was well-positioned at the event with our industry-leading graphics apps delivery solution presented on the main stage. The combined Cisco, Citrix and NVIDIA graphics app delivery platform includes Citrix XenDesktop taking advantage of NVIDIA’s GRID vGPU technology to deliver graphics workstation-like performance and experience to any user on any device, anywhere.

The opportunity for partners in this space is exciting as there are quite a few aging designer and engineer workstations in businesses today and customers are likely to want a centralized option for delivering graphics intensive applications for many reasons including:

  • Ease of management. The same tried and true manageability benefits apply as they do for standard desktop and app centralization scenarios.
  • Ubiquitous accessibility of models/data. Once the apps and data for 3D apps are centrally accessible, users can easily refer to, make changes and share information more quickly from any device at any location. The accessibility also applies to a wider variety of users than ever before. Not only will designers and engineers have access to models, but consumers of those designs down the value chain will require access as well and this multiplies the opportunity even further.
  • Better than local experience. Graphics-intensive apps mean large data files that can take several minutes to upload and download from/to endpoints and centralized servers. With a graphics app delivery platform like Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp, the data and apps are right next to each other on a fast network and load times are reduced to seconds or less.

During our sponsor session, we presented some key joint initiatives that both companies have been working on. Over the course of our partnership, we have designed, validated and tested many joint solutions resulting in Cisco Validated Designs (CVD). The latest designs shown to our partners were:

The Cisco UCS lead rounded out the Citrix highlights at the event by covering an M-Series solution for 2000 XenApp users at $119 and 1.29 W per user. Overall, the event was positive for Citrix and the partners went away with a solid impression that 2016 will yield quite a bit of opportunity in multiple areas where Citrix and Cisco provide world class solutions including:

  • Windows Server 2003 migration. There are still millions of servers out there waiting to be migrated.
  • Windows 10 migration. An opportunity to transition businesses to app and desktop delivery with XenDesktop.
  • SQL Server 2005 migrations.
  • Desktop virtualization/VDI. A key area where Citrix provides the industry leading app and desktop delivery solution.
  • Graphics workstation delivery. As previously discussed.
  • Hybrid Cloud.