Earlier this year at Citrix Summit, we recognized IntraSystems as our first-ever Citrix Worldwide Partner of the Year. With 66 percent growth in Citrix bookings, a strong Citrix Solution Provider (CSP) business, a leadership role in key strategic Citrix Cloud deals, and alignment with our vision for the cloud, IntraSystems demonstrated an ability to achieve a high level of success in today’s competitive tech marketplace.

IntraSystems was the only partner recognized for this award – not only because of the quality of their solution offering, but also because of the strength of their relationships on both ends of their business with Citrix and their customers.  These relationships have enabled them to deliver optimal business value and execute flawlessly.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Paul Kunze, the company’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing. He shared what he believes to be his organization’s keys to success.

Change and continuity

Organizations need to embrace change because it’s a constant in our business,” Paul shared. “From the early days of application virtualization to today’s anywhere, any device, any network digital workspaces, IntraSystems has certainly seen a lot of changes.”

At the same time, IntraSystems also knows the value of continuity. Paul reminded me that IntraSystems has worked with Citrix for 22 years and has employees who have been at IntraSystems for 15-20 of those years. This continuity and longevity has helped them earn a very high level of comfort with their customers.  He noted, “companies in the mid-market space truly want someone to help them get from point A to point B. Today, that means showing them the right way to move to the cloud as well as make them aware of the changes that will happen from a business perspective. IntraSystems plays that trusted advisor role well; customers recognize the value we provide and that we’ll be able to take them to the next level — whatever the market brings.”

Finding the right mix of change and continuity also applies to the evolution of your technology and market strategy. “When you’re building a cloud practice, don’t try to go outside of your comfort zone,” Paul says. “If you’re currently playing in the mid-market space, then your cloud practice should concentrate on that vertical (and not the SMB or enterprise) as you already know the who, what, and where. Most companies can’t be everything to everyone, so focus on what your organization does best.”

Capitalizing on cloud

IntraSystems recognized early on the potential of the rapidly growing cloud space. They also understood that to capitalize on the cloud opportunity, they would need to make changes to the way the company does business.

“In the beginning we were very much a project-based organization,” says Paul. “You’d sell your solution, then move on to the next deal. But as we got more involved in where the market was going with cloud computing, we realized that we needed to get more into some type of recurring revenue and provide more consumption-based IT for customers.” He noted that this wasn’t an easy process; the company had to completely change their customer relationship management (CRM) and professional services automation (PSA) systems and is now better equipped to meet their customers’ requirements. “As you sign new customers and want to add specific cloud-related services — whether it’s backup, DR, security – we now have a system to build, provision, provide support, manage ticketing, and so on,” stated Paul.

On an organizational level, IntraSystems has complemented its existing, often long-serving engineers and consultants with new hires who bring different types of skills to the table. “We have a lot of our current consultants that we want to eventually move into the cloud environment (which will happen); however, to get the immediate wins — the immediate mindshare and at-bats, if you will, from the customer — you need to have someone that’s very well-versed in cloud, cloud security, and identity management.”

Paul said that the sweet spot for cloud deals tends to be among customers who are currently in refresh mode. “It can be hard to move customers who’ve already invested heavily in infrastructure,” says Paul. “We’re going after customers who don’t want to be in the data center business anymore (there are a lot of them out there!) — typically, in the mid-market or high-end SMB space.” The most compelling benefit for clients is typically agility (more than cost) and as with any transformation, the biggest barrier to overcome tends to be fear. “They’re comfortable where they are. They’re putting out fires left and right, but they know the fires they’re putting out. They worry that if they move things somewhere else, they might lose control.”

Growing a Citrix Service Provider business

As an early and highly successful CSP, IntraSystems has grown and expanded its business through a unique approach that relies on a strong ISV relationship and close working relationship with the Citrix salesforce. Paul said that they “are probably a little different that most CSPs out there.  We didn’t want to simply provide Desktop-as-a-Service in the SMB space. We wanted to find an opportunity where we could work with Citrix and their ISV’s to focus on an underserved market.”

A prominent healthcare ISV was a good fit because the ISV did not want to get into the hosting business, but rather rely on their business partners to provide a hosted offering. We saw this as an opportunity to provide hosted solutions for the healthcare industry — specifically, hospitals with fewer than 500 beds.” Paul told me that they “have worked with the healthcare ISV  to develop a SaaS version of their offering. We built and host a demo facility for them. Now when the healthcare ISV salesforce finds an opportunity for cloud hosting, they come to IntraSystems to engage the client together. It’s a great partnership  and we have since expanded into adjacent markets and are working with additional ISVs. It’s creating new opportunities for service and growth.”

Key to the success of this model is their relationship with Citrix. “We also work closely with the local sales representatives from Citrix to make sure that they understand what we are doing and how we’re engaged with the healthcare ISV and the customer,” Paul noted. “We walk the whole process of value, the NetScaler value, the Citrix value.” On top of generating net new business, it has led to incremental sales of NetScaler and the large hosting facilities provide an excellent opportunity to leverage the SDX platform.

A business of trust

Paul highlighted that it’s important for channel partners to work closely with vendors. As part of the M7 consortium, a group of seven organizations in similar businesses who share marketing and business insights, IntraSystems meets quarterly with Citrix executives. Beyond the substance of the discussions— product and strategy roadmaps, feedback from the field, emerging opportunities — the relationship has built strong trust on both sides. “I’m all in with Citrix and you have my trust,” Paul tells me. “It’s nice to be able to have a true conversation with someone and know there’s no hidden agenda around it. I have the comfort of always knowing that Citrix is doing the right thing. If you don’t have that trust from the executive level right down to the street level with a vendor, then you’re probably working with the wrong vendor.”

IntraSystems is a valued CSA and CSP. I’m proud of our long-standing relationship with them and wish them even greater success in 2018 and beyond!

I encourage our partner community to look closely at the business opportunity that cloud presents. Leverage the people, resources and experience you have, and be willing to make investments where needed. Be open to the change. Citrix is committed to you and your success, and we want to accompany you on your journey to the cloud. If you have questions or would like more information, I’d encourage you to reach out your Citrix Partner Account Manager or Distributor or visit https://www.citrix.com/partner-programs/ to find out more about how we can work together.

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