Take Five With Tom Fenton

5 Ways the Sanbolic Acquisition Could Change Citrix

The VDI giant is evolving beyond its core competency. That's a good thing.

On Monday, Citrix made an announcement that could radically change the company's direction : It acquired a well-regarded software-defined storage (SDS) company, Sanbolic. On the surface, this may draw a few yawns from the technology community; but I believe that this could very well have a transformative effect on Citrix as a company.

Sanbolic is a provider of scale-out SDS that can utilize and aggregate storage resources in both the physical and virtual world. Sanbolic has a jump on other vendors in this workspace (VMware, Nutanix, Scale Computing and so on), as it can aggregate both local and cloud resources. Sanbolic has been in the storage business for more than 13 years. It runs on Linux, Windows, and in KVM, Xen, and Hyper-V. It can also run as a vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) on vSphere.

Here are five ways that Citrix could be radically changed by the acquisition of Sanbolic:

  1. Gaining instant credibility in the storage marketplace. Sanbolic has been around for a long time, has won multiple awards and is well regarded in the industry for its innovative storage solutions. Citrix could have spent a lot of capital on the development of a storage product and, in time, gained the clout achieved through buying Sanbolic. Now, however, it's gotten that benefit without spending the time and resources.

  2. Proving that it's serious about the software-defined workspace. In many ways Citrix hasn't established itself as one of the major players in the software-defined marketplace; gaining Sanbolic changes everything. VMware, Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat and HP have all the components to build a software-defined datacenter, but now Citrix joins that elite club and is no longer dependent on and beholden to others for the critical storage piece.

  3. Opening the way to a Citrix hyperconvergence product. VMware, Nutanix, Scale Computing and others have shown leadership in the hyperconvergence market place, while Citrix remained relatively silent. This could change the company now has the ability to leapfrog the competition, and demonstrate its leadership through building and selling the next evolution of hyperconvergent systems: a purpose-built hyperconvergent system that combines compute, storage, network and application (that is, virtual desktop infrastructure [VDI]).  Maybe this will be the product Kaviza should have been.

  4. Loosening ties with Xen. Sanbolic runs on Xen and KVM, and as such it must have some heavy-hitting KVM engineers in tow. If Citrix wants to loosen its ties with Xen, now would be a good time to do it.

  5. Branching out from being just a workspace company. Citrix has had a reputation, for better or worse, as a VDI company, but acquiring Sanbolic might change everything. This acquisition will allow Citrix to branch out into new fields -- for example, something as diverse as object storage. Object storage is hot; Sanbolic has it, and now Citrix can sell it. It's no longer bound to its traditional markets.

Now that Citrix has all the pieces to create some truly innovative, market-disruptive technology, it will be interesting to see if and how it will do it. I hold no ill will toward Xen and CloudPlatform, but they seem to have languished in the last few years. At the same time, other Citrix products like NetScaler have flourished and have great marketability. Citrix has some great clay to work with; I can't wait to see how it chooses to mold it.

About the Author

Tom Fenton works in VMware's Education department as a Senior Course Developer. He has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 20 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 10 years focused on virtualization and storage. Before re-joining VMware, Tom was a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, were he headed their Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on Twitter @vDoppler.

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