It's been a tumultuous year for Citrix since last year's conference, but the company's new direction is taking shape just in time for Synergy 2016.
At the Citrix Synergy 2016 user conference, which takes place May 24-26 in Las Vegas, IT professionals can learn more about Citrix's growing focus on unified management, the treasure trove of additions to XenDesktop and XenApp and other developments.
In addition, conference-goers get their first look at new Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinov -- a former executive vice president of Microsoft's Business Solutions division -- hired in January. By the time he delivers his Citrix Synergy 2016 keynote address, Tatarinov will only have been in charge for four months, but Citrix has been active so far this year with new versions of its desktop virtualization and enterprise mobility technologies, as well as the newer Citrix Workspace Cloud (CWC) platform.
All eyes on the new Citrix CEO
Wait, so Mark Templeton won't be at Synergy?
Until recently, Citrix was one of the few companies with a longtime, recognizable chief executive. In June 2015, activist investor Elliott Management Corp. -- which owns roughly 7.5% of Citrix -- voiced concerns that the company was going in too many directions and should focus on its core offerings.
That resulted in several changes at Citrix. It discontinued its storage virtualization product Melio, shut down its Citrix Labs innovation group, based in Australia, and laid off 900 employees and began spinning off its GoTo product line. Templeton headed for the exit, and Bob Calderoni, a financial executive, served as interim CEO for three months before the company settled on Kirill Tatarinov as its new leader. Tatarinov, a Microsoft executive for nearly 14 years, previously ran the teams responsible for Microsoft's Dynamics CRM and ERP products, Microsoft System Center and Windows Server.
In an interview this month with SearchContentManagement, Tatarinov said he felt Citrix's core mission is to securely deliver applications and data to users on any endpoint and any network. Tatarinov certainly has plenty of experience in his background, but only time will tell what he can accomplish at the company -- and how his Synergy keynotes compare to Templeton's charismatic style.
Citrix moves toward unified management
Citrix has invested in the emerging market around cloud-based workspace management with its Citrix Workspace Cloud offering. Now, the company is involved in a back-and-forth with VMware, which in February released its own cloud-based management platform, Workspace One, at a lower price.
Workspace Cloud uses technologies from XenDesktop, XenApp, XenMobile and the company's Sharefile enterprise file sync-and-share product to provide unified management of users' personal devices, virtual desktops and apps, and data from the cloud. Citrix unveiled CWC at Synergy 2015, but this year marks the first conference since Workspace Cloud became generally available last August 2015. In March Citrix released as part of XenApp and CWC the Citrix Secure Browser service, which provides users with clientless HTML5 access to their apps in what is essentially a hosted XenApp environment.
Citrix's push toward unified management goes beyond just CWC. In January 2016, the company announced version 10.3 of its XenMobile enterprise mobility management platform, which now includes unified endpoint management. That means IT can use XenMobile to manage Windows 10 and Mac OS X laptops and desktops, in addition to mobile operating systems (OSes). This addition makes the platform a solid option for mobile-first shops that also want to manage PCs, and it helps XenMobile keep pace with competing products such as MobileIron and VMware AirWatch.
XenDesktop and XenApp get a boost
Citrix came out with new versions of XenDesktop and XenApp at January's Citrix Summit 2016 partner conference. In an acknowledgement of the growing importance of remote business applications, Citrix integrated a new app layering technology named AppDisk into all editions of XenDesktop and XenApp 7.8. The tool allows IT to produce fewer group-specific master images, because AppDisk delivers applications separately from the base image. IT can use AppDisk with desktop or server OSes, and it also integrates with Citrix Provisioning Services and Machine Creation Services.
XenDesktop and XenApp 7.7 and 7.8 include new or improved Microsoft integrations, including full support for Skype for Business. Administrators can also now use Citrix Studio to deliver Microsoft App-V packages, which eliminates the previous requirement of a separate App-V server. Additionally, Machine Creation Services is now compatible with Microsoft Azure, and Provisioning Services added support for configuring on-premises Windows 10 virtual desktops. Plus, Citrix acquired Comtrade's SCOM management packs, providing comprehensive infrastructure monitoring for XenDesktop and XenApp Platinum customers.
The company is including plenty of sessions on these topics throughout Citrix Synergy 2016, allowing attendees to catch up on everything it has been up to over the past year.
Why the Elliott intervention was a good thing
What do we know about Kirill Tatarinov?
Citrix layoffs highlight tumultuous 2015
Before migrating to a XenDesktop farm, five things you should know