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The Sky Is Not Falling On Citrix's Head

One of my favorite comic book series is "The Adventures of Asterix." In it, the fearless Gauls who resisted Julius Caesar's Roman Empire had but one fear in life, that the sky would fall on their heads tomorrow.

Last week, Brian Madden's post, "Cloud platforms diminish Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp's value. *This* is the opportunity for VMware!" essentially implied that the sky was falling on Citrix's head tomorrow and that VMware is on the verge of achieving "Plato's Republic" in terms of tight integration among its current and acquired products, remarkable automation and orchestration, perfect agility and mobility between cloud and on premise cloud-like deployments, exemplary and complete feature set across the portfolio.

Madden makes some excellent points, but it's a bit one sided and too much doom and gloom. The same argument with exactly the same points can be made for VMware if we were to consider that Microsoft already has all the components needed.

Microsoft has a very good hypervisor and I think everyone would agree that at this point it is good enough. The company has an excellent application virtualization technology. It has RDSH and RemoteApps. It has the remote protocol, whether RDP or RemoteFX. It has an excellent management suite in System Center. It has a VDI broker. And it has Azure, a very mature and very large-scale worldwide cloud deployment. Once project "Mohoro" comes to life, Microsoft will then also have a DaaS offering.

If all the above was not enough, Microsoft also controls licensing. Considering everyone is trying to virtualize its operating systems and its applications, that would give Microsoft a definitive edge. Microsoft also has decent integration across all its products and is making great progress in terms of private cloud.

All that being said, the question now becomes: Why would anyone use VMware? And ironically for that matter, Citrix? The world, however, is not that black and white and features matter a great deal. So does performance, security, scalability, maturity, and ease of use. This exactly where Citrix has been playing since its inception and this is exactly why VMware will be able to compete and why not everyone will just use a Microsoft solution.

VMware Has Its Challenges
VMware has always had excellent vision. Heck, it practically invented an industry that did not exist, and I am a fan of that vision. But its execution has been spotty and slow especially when it comes to EUC. It took VMware quite some time to collect all the necessary pieces to fulfill an end-to-end end-user computing solution. VMware now has most of the components and if rumors are true, VMware will soon announce a direct competitor to Citrix XenApp.

That's great, but VMware is now challenged with integrating all these products and history has shown us that VMware has been slow to integrate technologies. Think ThinApp, and profile management. VMware now has to integrate AirWatch with Horizon View. It also has to integrate AirWatch's Secure Content Locker with Horizon Data. VMware has to figure out how to integrate Desktop with Horizon View and how all this will tie into vCloud. VMware has to, at some point also acquire Teradici, something I have been screaming about for years. (VMware, you cannot OEM the heart of your solution, your remote protocol.)

So, VMware has its work cut out for itself and it will be busy for quite some time with all this integration stuff. Let's not forget the fact that as it integrates them, the company has to continue to innovate across all these products to remain competitive.

What's Up, Citrix?
Citrix on the other hand has done a wonderful job building a true end-to-end end-user computing suite that spans beyond just Windows desktops and apps to include MDM, MAM, cloud storage, collaboration, topped with a suite of networking products for security and acceleration and optimization. Citrix has been building this portfolio by acquisition and by development and has been integrating for quite a while now, and while tighter integration is still needed and some enhancements are needed here and there, Citrix is very far along and ahead in some cases.

Citrix has been so focused on its mobile work styles vision that it is completely missing out on the cloud opportunity. Sure, it has a good cloud portfolio with CloudPlatform and it has been working on integrating that with its mobile work styles vision. And that's exactly the problem: Citrix is integrating its cloud portfolio with the mobile and desktop virtualization product suites instead of going after the cloud from a platform perspective. Citrix absolutely has a lot of catching up to do in this space.

I hope that Citrix realizes that its strategy of empowering cloud service providers is a 1990s approach and that making an acquisition in this space would properly position the company to take advantage of the cloud just like Cisco, EMC, VMware, Microsoft and others are doing. Empowering is not enough, Citrix -- you must own a piece of the cloud. That will be beneficial for Citrix to deliver its own DaaS solution but also expand its offering.

My suggestion is that it acquires Rackspace, a company that has built a great brand name for itself and one that I believe Citrix is capable of acquiring financially. Citrix can bring a lot to Rackspace immediately in regards to solutions, but even more important is scale. See, Rackspace has for the most part been a direct consumer sale company with very little enterprise sales experience. Citrix can bring an army of sales people and partners that would immediately be able to sell the portfolio as they are familiar with it, with only a little bit of training needed. Rackspace brings to Citrix a profitable business, a great brand name and the ability to immediately own a piece of the cloud and begin to build and offer Citrix solutions. Some OpenStack/CloudStack bickering aside, a Rackspace acquisition is exactly what Citrix needs.

So, the sky is neither falling on Citrix's head, nor is VMware on the verge of achieving Plato's Software Portfolio Republic. Both companies have excellent vision, excellent product portfolios with gaps and a lot to improve on. I see VMware competing with Citrix neck and neck, and that means we as customers are poised to benefit from that competition with reduced pricing on XenApp, and better features from either company's solutions as the competition heats up.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 04/08/2014 at 1:35 PM


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