BACKGROUND IMAGE: iSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES
LAS VEGAS -- IT pros were happy to hear how Citrix is reshaping its strategy under the company's new CEO.
Citrix's overall message to attendees here at Synergy 2016 is that the company is focusing on its revamped partnership with Microsoft, taking advantage of cloud technology and emphasizing continued work on its core products. XenMobile, XenApp and XenDesktop, as well as ShareFile, all saw important updates, plus the company showed off those products' integrations with Microsoft Office 365, Windows 10 and more. Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinov admitted to the company's past faults around articulating its strategy, and shared how that will change under his watch.
IT pros said the announcements show Citrix is taking solid steps to right the ship.
"The new direction of Citrix is really positive, especially in respect to their partnership with Microsoft, and their software being so well integrated," said Logan Rosenstiel, systems administrator at Rivermark Community Credit Union in Beaverton, Ore. "They're moving in the right direction with innovative technologies. Anyone who is serious about embracing cloud computing and true mobility, you'd be foolish to not at least consider them."
Microsoft steals the day
As part of their continuing partnership, Microsoft and Citrix have now optimized Skype for Business for use in XenApp and XenDesktop environments. That's a welcome integration for Rosenstiel, who came to Synergy to learn more about managing voice and video collaboration tools for his company's growing number of remote employees. Ideally, he wants employees to be able to use Skype for Business in a virtualized Citrix environment, and the Microsoft-Citrix news has made that possible, he said.
Other new Microsoft integrations focused on its cloud offerings. Citrix added support for delivering Windows 10 virtual desktops as a service through XenDesktop on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform. Citrix's ShareFile enterprise file sync-and-share platform will integrate with Office 365 to allow users to edit ShareFile documents directly in Office 365 through the web.
Rosenstiel's company plans to take advantage of the ShareFile and Office 365 integration, as well as the new security improvements, he said.
Logan Rosenstielsystems administrator, Rivermark Community Credit Union
"With it, you can manage security and data leakage prevention," Rosenstiel said. "In the financial sector especially, data leakage prevention is a huge deal for us."
ShareFile is the smallest part of Citrix's portfolio, but it is also the fastest growing, Tatarinov said in an interview.
Enabling popular cloud services and applications with Citrix products will make Citrix more desirable to IT customers as businesses transition to the cloud, he said.
"The cloud unlocks tremendous potential for Citrix in small-size organizations ... and we're very excited about it," he added.
Get the message?
Delivering effective products and taking advantage of Microsoft services is important, but so is clearly delivering the company's message and intentions to its customer base, said Robert Young, a research analyst at IDC.
"Their messaging got diluted over the years," Young said. "They have to go to market with a story of what problems their products are going to solve. [CEO Kirill Tatarinov] needs to get that message across."
Tatarinov admits communication to customers was a major problem in the past.
"This is what our marketing organization is driving religiously," he said. "It's quite important for Citrix to really explain what we are in the world in technology and how we fit."
Another major effort -- focusing its attention and resources on its core products -- has been the battle cry of Citrix for months, even before Tatarinov took the helm in January. For example, in November Citrix announced plans to spin off its popular GoTo product line into a separate company.
"Citrix has been fighting on a lot of fronts the last few years," said David Johnson, an analyst at Forrester Research. "Kirill is going to help focus the company ... on where they have strength, and he'll focus on EUC."
In his first four months at Citrix, Tatarinov has been receptive to what customers are asking for, but time will tell if he'll be successful, said Sam Jacobs, director of technology development at IPM, an IT consultancy in New York.
"He seems to be working towards righting some of the issues Citrix has had in the past," Jacobs said. "But the jury is still out."
CEO Kirill Tatarinov talks Citrix's future in the mobile world
Citrix balances technical and business experience
Complete roundup of Synergy 2016 news