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Citrix Systems laid out a broad, bold tactical product roadmap and showcased a solid, long term strategic vision at its Analyst Summit held in Denver on September 16-17.
Desktop virtualization, cloud computing, on-demand computing, self-service IT and expanding the company’s strategic vendor alliances and channel partnerships represent the key thrusts over the next six-to-12 months, according to Citrix president and chief executive, Mark Templeton.
All of the aforementioned initiatives will also be the focus of several, separate Citrix’ fall and winter product introductions. The first announcement is slated for later today.
Templeton delivered the keynote to the approximately 70 assembled analysts, stating that as Citrix celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, the company’s goal is “to stand out from the [virtualization] crowd and avoid the status quo.” Templeton, a 14-year Citrix veteran served up some encouraging company statistics noting that while revenue has been essentially flat over the past year – which he considers a positive in the ongoing economic downturn – Citrix’ business is growing in almost every other area (see chart below). “Flat [revenue] is the new growth,” Templeton joked, referring to the company’s 2009 first half revenue of $762 million.

Citrix Expands Product Portfolio

Templeton said that Citrix is moving to aggressively solidify its place as one of the top tier virtualization vendors – along with VMware and Microsoft – by growing the business both organically as well as by acquisitions. ITIC survey data indicates that the top three virtualization vendors: Citrix, Microsoft and VMware account for 90% market share – particularly in the server virtualization arena, where VMware is the clear market leader with over 50% share. In recent months, the more mature server virtualization market has seen a spate of mergers and acquisitions, most notably Oracle’s purchase of Sun Microsystems, Inc. and niche market player Virtual Iron.

Citrix’ own purchase of XenSource in October 2007 and its subsequent partnership with Microsoft to support the Redmond, Washington software firm’s Hyper-V product have given the company a strong foothold in the server arena. Additionally, the Citrix Xen virtualization technology is embedded in a variety of operating system platforms including the open source Debian Etch; Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 and 11; Red Hat’s Enterprise 5 and Oracle’s Sun Solaris. Dell also includes the Citrix XenServer OEM Edition as an embedded hypervisor as an option in its Power Edge Servers.

Most recently Citrix has notably bolstered its desktop and application virtualization product portfolio with the addition and enhancement of a number of key offerings including the NetScaler (Application Optimization, Application Delivery Networking, Load Balancing, Web Application Acceleration and Application Firewall).
Citrix is also exerting and extending its influence via the open source Xen.org community project, which Templeton said, now boasts more than 3,700 individual members; 250 contributing companies. Unique code contributions, he added increased 110% from 2008 to 2009. Central to the Xen.org strategy is the Xen Cloud project, which is an open source, open platform for cloud providers. It features broad interoperability among various competing hypervisors; broad industry support and serves as a platform for an overarching open source ecosystem, Templeton said.
Cloud computing is central to Citrix’ long term strategy and the company is building a wide array of desktop management and security add-ons to facilitate corporations’ migration to both private and public cloud infrastructures.
“Consumption based costs is becoming an imperative for users,” Templeton said. “If you’re not a leader in this area, it will kill you,” he added.
Citrix Ramps Up

Templeton noted that Citrix had spent $1.8 billion in acquisitions over the past 18-to-24 months, to bolster the company’s three business divisions: the Online Division; the Desktop Division and the Datacenter and Cloud Division.

In particular, Citrix intends to cement its position in the fast emerging desktop and application virtualization markets by highlighting the increasing trend towards self-service IT. According to Templeton, Citrix’ Software as a Service (SaaS) group is among the “fastest growing part of the company with over 100M online virtualization sessions” to its credit.

Templeton and Wes Wasson, the company’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) said Citrix’ Xen Desktop is the centerpiece of the company’s short term tactical and long term strategic plans and goals. “Desktop virtualization, Templeton and Wasson said, “can help take big chunks [reduce] the time spent on daily systems management chores” like patching and rolling out updates which consume an enormous amount of IT managers’ time.

“Our agenda is to offer the broadest set of virtualization technologies in the industry – separating desktops and applications from the physical server, to address the growing numbers of mobile, remote and telecommuting workers,” Templeton said. This is crucial he noted, because industry wide, IT spending remains flat in the low single digits. In contrast, “the velocity and amplitude of change” facing customers continues to accelerate.

“For many businesses the current infrastructure design is not suitable for the emerging dynamic business environment. Citrix is responding to market dynamics and market realities where the only constant is change,” Wasson said.

The Citrix executives said they recognize that in the current depressed economic climate, the balance of power has moved from vendors to customers. “No vendor will be successful with a lock-in strategy,” Wasson said. Hence, Citrix will continue to pursue a platform agnostic approach to ensure that its products will work in all operating system environments; the company also provides interoperability and integration with offerings from rival vendors like VMware. The company is also shoring up its partnerships with software vendors like Microsoft and Novell as well as hardware OEMs like Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

This strategy has helped Citrix garner new customer wins among large enterprises accounts. During the summit Citrix showcased corporate accounts such as Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, Ga., which uses Citrix Delivery Center to cut costs by 60% for an anticipated operational savings of $1.5 million in 2009, according to Michael Thomason, Lead IT manager. Tesco, a British based international grocery chain and retailer said it replaced 1,500 traditional servers and consolidated using virtual blade servers and Citrix XenServer technology, according to Chris Brockelsby, the company’s lead IT Director.

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