New Citrix CEO Emphasizes Shift to Cloud and Services at Synergy 2016

Mobility upgrades, Microsoft relationship also emphasized.

After months of wondering what Citrix's new CEO had in store to take the struggling company forward, Kirill Tatarinov outlined his key vision and priorities this week at the annual Citrix Synergy conference in Las Vegas. Chief among them is offering its entire portfolio as cloud-based services, and folding its entire product lineup into solutions and services, rather than its more recent focus on delivering products.

Tatarinov talked up releases of its Xen family of products, a major new upgrade to its NetScaler application delivery controller and new security and system management capabilities. He also emphasized his priority of helping organizations offer so-called digital workspaces, which bridge new cloud-scale modern apps with existing ones on virtually any computer or device.

The former senior executive from Microsoft, tapped to replace CEO Mark Templeton back in January amid pressure by activist investors led by Elliot Management, looked to reassure customers and partners that the company's two pronged attack -- a push to the cloud and broadening the application of its offerings -- will put Citrix back on track. Perhaps the most noteworthy change in strategy is that Citrix will move from a product focus to becoming more of a provider of solutions and services.

From Products to Services
"We are in the midst of a very significant, very important transformation, from being a product focused company to being a solution provider, more importantly being able to deliver services from the cloud," Tatarinov said in his keynote, adding that everything Citrix offers on-premises will also be available as a cloud service.

"It would be fair to say at Citrix we are all in on the cloud," he said. "In the coming weeks and months you will see the entire Citrix portfolio of products and solutions move to the cloud, to enable virtualization of applications on the desktop in the cloud, with consistent delivery, end-to-end on Citrix."

Citrix also announced a number of new products, including:

  • New releases of its Xen desktop and application virtualization portfolio (XenDesktop 7.9 and XenApp 7.9)
  • A major upgrade to its NetScaler application delivery controller and network gateway
  • A new management platform

The company emphasized plans to bolster its XenMobile mobility management offering with what the company calls a "mobile application management (MAM)-First approach."

Citrix XenServer 7 is also now available, the company announced at Synergy. The XenServer release offers significantly improved security via the company's new Direct Inspect APIs, which Citrix claims offers better protection. The API, when incorporated by security vendors, help prevent malware, viruses and rootkit zero-day attacks from hiding within the VM, rendering them unable to execute within the software.

In addition to supporting NVIDIA GPU environments, XenServer now supports the new Intel Iris Pro on-CPU, which will let remote XenApp and XenDesktop users run graphics-intensive apps with improved levels of performance. It also supports 128 NVIDIA GRID vGPU-enabled VMs, which the company said will deliver a 33 percent performance boost over the previous release.

NetScaler CPX with Docker Containers Targets DevOps
As part of its effort to provide better integration, scalability and orchestration cloud capabilities, Citrix unveiled new versions of its NetScaler application delivery controller line. The NetScaler CPX is packaged as a Linux-based Docker container. The ADC is built on the same code as the existing NetScaler offering and can be deployed using Docker command lines.

"Now organizations that are deploying a DevOps methodology can run the application delivery controller in a Docker container, together with the rest of the development environment," Tatarinov said. "I know many of you will start to deploy a DevOps methodology; this will be a key new addition in the NetScaler family."

Klaus Oestermann, Citrix senior VP and GM of delivery networks, told attendees that supporting this shift to DevOps in NetScaler is critical to bridging traditional IT infrastructure with modern apps. "There's a big divide here when you look at how you run traditional IT, and how DevOps often times relegates organizations who want to organize how they run things and how they're going to basically build new applications," he said. "We've been hard at work on this problem. With NetScaler CPX, you can give thousands of instances to developers at a very low cost."

The company also introduced a version of NetScaler that supports SD-WANs. The company's new NetScaler SD-WAN Enterprise Edition will let enterprises integrate branch offices into their WANs, providing a common management interface.

Tying its networking platform together for DevOps is the new NetScaler Management and Analytics System, which the company said will centralize policy management across devices and apps, offer service automation and real-time analytics. It will let administrators monitor and manage the entire ADC infrastructure including the NetScaler MPX, NetScaler VPX, NetScaler Gateway, NetScaler SDX and the new NetScaler CPX and NetScaler SD-WAN from one console.

Bosom Buddies with Microsoft
Perhaps the biggest headline at Synergy was an extension to Citrix's longstanding partnership with Microsoft. Citrix and Microsoft have what they argue is the longest standing partnership in the IT industry, dating back 25 years and including an equity investment to save the company back in the late 1990s.

The new partnership is the most extensive between the two companies to date, executives at both companies said. As part of this new pact, Citrix will use the Microsoft Azure public cloud to deliver all Citrix's new cloud service offerings.

Azure will provide the backplane for Citrix plan to offer Windows 10 Enterprise for Xen Desktop and XenApp as a service for those who don't want to run XenServer on premises. While Xen customers have had the option of doing so via managed service providers and cloud operators, including Amazon Web Services, the Citrix-supplied service represents the first time customers can bring their Windows licenses with them.

Hosting Windows 10 Enterprise Via XenDesktop
Citrix will offer customers who have licensed Windows 10 Enterprise (Microsoft's Current Branch for Business) the option of managing their Windows 10 images on Azure via XenDesktop without having to pay an additional license fee. Delivered as a service, it'll include the ability to use Citrix's AppDNA migration tool and deploy virtual desktops or apps.

"This is an industry first; it's the first time we announced the ability for a Windows client to be hosted in a public, shared cloud," said Microsoft corporate VP for enterprise and client mobility Brad Anderson. He joined Bill Burly, VP and general manager of Citrix's Workspace Services Business unit, on stage in Wednesday's keynote session. "It's a big, big deal for the industry. I really think this Windows 10 VDI service on Azure is going to open doors up. People are dying to take advantage of the Azure power to deliver VDI."

Going Mobile
On the enterprise mobility management side, while both companies have their own competing platforms, they will provide interoperability between Microsoft's Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) and Citrix's XenMobile and NetScaler.

"NetScaler is going to EMS-enabled," Anderson said. "What that means is, as EMS-managed apps devices come through NetScaler at the perimeter, NetScaler is going to interact with EMS services, and we'll be able to force initial access based upon the policies that are set by EMS. Literally every EMS customer can also be a NetScaler customer."

The two companies are also taking Citrix NetScaler capabilities and integrating that into the mobile application management MAM SDK of Microsoft's EMS. That will allow any app in line with the SDK to be able to connect with on-premises apps, according to Anderson. And Citrix is going to build its own new enterprise mobility service that'll run on Azure, but be offered as a Citrix service.

Co-opetition Reigns
The two companies' competing mobility offerings will interoperate with each other, Anderson said. "Citrix will bring all of their experience in security, compliance -- especially these highly regulated businesses -- and we'll do all that work in the cloud and apply that."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.


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