Citrix Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CTXS) has announced a restructuring and rebranding of its key virtualization products, as well as the introduction of a new orchestration technology. My question is when will the cloud computing, virtualization, SaaS and advertising combined synergies bubble up to show Citrix's substantial strategic worth? Who will get it and bet on it first?
First things first. The Citrix Delivery Center will serve as an umbrella for a new family of products that includes XenApp, formerly the Citrix Presentation Server, as well as XenDesktop, NetScaler, and XenServer.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company said that it is renaming the presentation server to capitalize on the connection of Xen with virtualization and to make it fit in with the rest of the product line.
Citrix has also announced the release of XenServer Platinum Edition. This will give users the functionality they need to provision both virtual and physical machines. It includes the ability to stream a workload to any server or server farm and will provision servers simultaneously from a single standard workload image. It will also include capacity on demand and the ability to dynamically manage provisioning for disaster recovery and business continuity.
Back to the meaty stuff. On an even more fascinating note, came consultant Sramana Mitra's pithy ruminations this week of how a Citrix and SAP (NYSE:SAP) merger would work. And the timing of that tidbit coincides nicely with rumors of an Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) buy of Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM). I think both of these scenarios make a lot of sense, and demonstrate that strategic advantage in three years will be cast through a cloud. In other words, everyone who's anyone in applications needs a services fabric story. They will also need the ability to mine whatever relationship will emerge between enterprise applications delivery and advertising. I'd say even an IBM (NYSE:IBM)-Citrix matchup makes sense. Citrix has assembled the means to pivot and weave to work this market disruption in many directions. It can stay on-premises, go to the cloud, deliver the desktop as a service, among other permutations. And there's always the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) relationship.
Indeed, you should have seen the glint in the eyes of the Citrix executives last fall in Key Biscayne when I asked when they will inject ads into their applications delivered as services. I almost saw dollar signs amid the Florida sun-inspired crinkles by their eyes.
... advertising will surely morph into a smörgåsbord of sponsored web services, mashups for hire, affiliated networks, search-oriented lead generation, pay as you use online infrastructure, multimedia informercial snippets, and --most importantly -- more intelligent matching of a buyer's needs and a seller's outreach.
... In a matter of months or few short years, the cloud will permit much richer buyer-seller interactions, things we should not rightly call advertising. Users can get what they need to be more productive, at a price. Sellers will find direct lines to those ready to buy, for pennies per sale. It is semantic selling in one direction, and vendor relationship management, as Doc Searls says, in the other.
And this will be a productivity boon to B2B, B2E and B2C commerce. We will soon be able to grease the skids of automated matching of buying and selling, across nearly all goods and services.
Back to the more mundane (but necessary) news: XenServer 4.1, according to Citrix, offers more than 50 enhancements. A full listing of the features and functionality of Platinum Edition and the latest release of XenServer 4.1 are now available on the Citrix Website.
The new Citrix orchestration technology, known as Workflow Studio, is designed to tie together the company's application delivery solutions and integrate them with users' existing technology components.
Workflow Studio is built on Microsoft .NET, PowerShell and Windows Workflow Foundation technologies. This extensible design also makes it easier for customers to link Citrix products into broader systems management solutions from partners like HP (NYSE:HPQ), IBM, and is designed to allow everything to function seamlessly within large enterprise environments.
ZDNet's Paula Rooney sees the news as a move away from the company's open-source mission and said that Citrix officials were trying to back away from Xen by branding its products under the Citrix Delivery System banner.
While Citrix is using the Xen name for its individual products, it is positioning the entire stack — including its NetScaler web acceleration platform — as the Citrix Delivery Center. From that, it appears that Citrix is diluting XenSource’s core identity as a virtualization company in order to score points with Microsoft and catapult Microsoft’s forthcoming HyperV hypervisor as VMware’s chief rival.
Xen is profoundly important to Citrix, is changing everything about the way that Citrix develops and delivers its products. Citrix is fully supportive of open source and the community, and you will see much more than just Xen as a core community focus from Citrix in the not too distant future.
I've been bullish on the Citrix/Xen Source combo, since they joined forced last year. Back then, I said:
The acquisition also sets the stage for Citrix to move boldly into the desktop as a service business, from the applications serving side of things. We’ve already seen the provider space for desktops as a service heat up with the recent arrival of venture-backed Desktone. One has to wonder whether Citrix will protect Windows by virtualizing the desktop competition, or threaten Windows by the reverse.
The individual products in the Citrix Delivery Center family can be purchased today. A tech preview of the new Workflow Studio solution will be available in Q2 2008.
Citrix XenServer 4.1 is currently available as a public beta from the Citrix web site and will be generally available in March 2008. Citrix XenServer Platinum Edition will be generally available shortly after in Q2.
That's provided someone hasn't bought Citrix first.