Take Five With Tom Fenton
TAKE FIVE: Why I Like Citrix
Here's a situation where the nice guy finishes as President and CEO.
For the past few weeks, I've been working on a profile of Citrix. I've really enjoyed the research -- because I felt like there was a good story lurking under the covers -- and the writing, which has been made easier by the great interviews I had with Citrix CTO Simon Crosby, and Citrix President and CEO Mark Templeton. Here's what I discovered.
Mark Templeton. I can't help it, I just like the guy. He was running late for our phone interview, so I had some time to chat with Julie Geer, the helpful PR person who had lined up the interview, and she was telling me how much everybody likes Mark -- I know, I know, it's not as though she's going to say what a dirtball he is, even if he was, which he isn't. When Templeton gets on the line, he apologizes left and right about keeping me waiting. My reaction: Wow, he's totally unpretentious for a guy in his position. There was no "slick" in him. On a more professional level, you've got to admire somebody who has been president and CEO of a high-tech company for 11 years and has not only hung onto his job, but has navigated Citrix through a lot of turbulent waters. Mark Templeton = good guy.
Simon Crosby. When I think of Simon, I harken back to Eric Clapton (E.C.) talking about Stevie Ray Vaughan. E.C. said Stevie Ray was like an "open channel," meaning that he never had to stop and regroup before taking off on another fabulous sonic blast. Simon is a great interview because he can talk on and on -- in detail -- about whatever he's asked to discuss. The only downside to that is trying to figure out what to use and what to edit out, which is a small price to pay for all that good content.
The Microsoft deal. When you take the time to look at this long-standing agreement (it goes back at least to the late '90s), you can see how good it is for both companies, which are complementary as opposed to being competitive. As long as Citrix can remain the company that best exemplifies what Microsoft is looking for in an OEM partner -- which Microsoft says is the case -- they can continue to earn big bucks by delivering Windows apps to that huge market. Adding to the luster for Citrix: Microsoft makes no bones about saying VMware is a competitor.
XenDesktop. The buck stops at XenDesktop, which is the real deal for Citrix as a competitor to VMware, and which is now available as part of a suite with XenApp, which has been making Citrix a lot of money for a long time. Yes, VMware has excelled in the server virtualization market -- which seems not to bother Citrix because the company still has big plans for XenServer as the hypervisor of choice for XenDesktop, XenApp and NetScaler -- but Citrix is at least VMware's equal in the VDI/desktop virtualization space, which has huge potential. XenDesktop's use of HDX adaptive technology (which includes the ICA protocol) looks to have an advantage over PCoIP, which VMware uses with its View VDI product. Bottom line: the future looks legitimately bright.
The Citrix image. Citrix has been taking it on the chin from bloggers, reporters and pundits of all kinds for quite a while now, mostly around two topics: the possible demise of XenServer as a result of its perceived poor performance in the server virtualization market, and the possibility of Microsoft abrogating its cooperative agreement with Citrix and then blowing the company out of the virtualization market. To which I reply: Citrix has announced that the next full version of XenServer will be available by mid-year, and Microsoft loves dealing with Citrix, as I noted in my third take. All of which goes to prove: indeed, image is not everything.
What do you think about Citrix and XenServer? E-mail me at [email protected].
Bruce Hoard is the new editor of Virtualization Review. Prior to taking this post, he was founding editor of Network World and spent 20 years as a freelance writer and editor in the IT industry.