Citrix launches product suite, could be aiming at SMBs

ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Citrix Systems Inc. has launched a product suite that melds its technologies and services together, allowing customers to securely access their files on any device, over any network.

On Tuesday, during its Synergy conference in Anaheim, Calif., Citrix made a slew of announcements about its plans to serve businesses seeking to virtualize their apps and desktops on multiple devices, including mobile ones. The company pulled together its virtualization, mobility, networking, and cloud services into the Citrix Workspace Suite, which works with both corporate and personal devices.

For example, a company using the suite can allow its employees to access, edit, and collaborate on documents from their desktops, smartphones, and tablets. It’s cross-device, meaning an employee can work from his or her PC at the office, then go home and work from the iPad – and he or she can securely access the same files, without needing to worry about bandwidth, high latency WAN, their 3G or 4G mobile network, or the corporate LAN.

And to give the IT department some peace of mind, Citrix Workspace Suite promises to use enterprise-level security. Employees working from their mobile devices can access company data securely, but the apps are kept in a secure sandbox, away from their personal apps. Plus the IT department can add on features like data encryption, passwords, and micro-virtual private network tunnels for specific mobile apps.

In his keynote address, CEO Mark Templeton compared Citrix’s strategy to what entertainment and content providers like Netflix, Apple iTunes, and Comcast have already done. They own less and less of their content and act as middlemen instead, providing content and services to their subscribers, he said.

So for Citrix, that concept translates into providing workspaces as a service, especially when businesses are quickly adopting both cloud and mobile. That frees up people to work on the road, in the office, or remotely – options that many of today’s employees have come to expect, he added.

“We observed this incredible, highly scalular [sic], incredible customer experience … We believe the same thing goes for IT,” he said. “The new reality of the mobile world is in personal devices, connecting on wireless, apps built as mashups in multiple layers, and offered through stores and a hybrid backend system.”

“We think that what you do is separate this notion of devices and services, and build infrastructure that is adaptive, that is flexible … Services can be made anywhere and people can work anywhere.”

While Citrix has traditionally catered to enterprise organizations, Kevin Burden, an analyst with Strategy Analytics, said he doesn’t think it’s a stretch to say the company may be eyeing the small to mid-sized business (SMB) market. By going through its channel partners, Citrix may eventually be hoping to make more of an SMB play with its Workspace Suite, he said.

“They have some à la carte-type products. ShareFile, virtualization, XenMobile – they’re all very separate-type products. So this Workspace Suite was very interesting because it’s the first time we’ve seen a comprehensive solution to all this,” Burden said.

“Any large enterprise probably is not going to want this. The reason why they’ve done à la carte up to this point is because that’s what enterprises look for … They have a variety of technologies, and they tend to go through and pick best-of-class, and they piece together certain solutions from a variety of different vendors.”

Chris Hazelton, an analyst with 451 Research, agreed with Burden.

“You don’t have specialized IT within small businesses, so having a single console to manage all endpoints is what a lot of vendors are going after,” he said, adding Dell Inc. and Symantec Corp. are already doing this.

“The enterprise mobile space has a lot of pricing pressure, so it’s about getting a large number of deals on the books … Going after that larger base of companies can help drive revenue.”

Citrix is also showing it’s paying attention to its competition. During the keynote, Citrix executives said their suite can do a lot more than VMware Inc.’s Horizon and AirWatch suites. And in an effort to lure away customers from VMware Horizon or VMware View, the company is offering a discount of 50 per cent off for customers switching from those products to Citrix Workspace Suite. They’re also giving 25 per cent off to customers migrating away from BlackBerry devices in favour of the suite.

But whether this will work is another question, as many VMware customers have invested a lot in virtualization – and it won’t be cheap to just adopt another company’s technology, Burden said.

For customers already using Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop, XenMobile, and ShareFile Enterprise, they can get the full bundle of the Citrix Workspace Suite with a discount of up to 70 per cent off. The suite is available immediately, while the company’s discounts and promotions are on offer for a limited time.

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Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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