This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Citrix Synergy 2017 conference coverage

Citrix CEO addresses sale 'rumors'

In a sit-down interview, Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinov reacts to reports that the company is exploring a sale. And he discusses the effects of recent acquisitions and partnerships.

Despite the news that the company is exploring a sale, Citrix is pushing forward with a renewed focus on its core end-user computing technologies.

Citrix last month enlisted the services of Goldman Sachs to seek out potential buyers, according to published reports. Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinov addressed those reports in an interview with SearchVirtualDesktop.

"This is not the first time rumors about Citrix's sale are appearing in the marketplace," he said. "Throughout history, we've developed a sufficient level of resiliency to not pay attention to those rumors, to focus on driving the business and execution, and stay the course. And that's precisely what's going on now."

The company hired Tatarinov, a longtime Microsoft executive, as Citrix CEO in early 2016 and tasked him with righting the ship after several years of leadership turnover, investor agitation and market-share slippage. In his first year, the company's profits rose from $319 million to $536 million.

Kirill Tatarinov, CEO, CitrixKirill Tatarinov

There were two keys to Citrix's turnaround, Tatarinov said. First was establishing a vision centered on desktop and application virtualization, mobility and file sharing, and reorganizing operations to fit that vision. Instead of independent business units for each of those technologies, there is now one unified structure designed to help the company better integrate its core products.

Secondly, the company took a more aggressive stance in the desktop and application virtualization market, where chief competitor VMware had made significant gains.

"In a situation where you are a leader ... you don't respond to some of your competitors," Tatarinov said. "In the past, Citrix took the high road more often than it should. We don't want to take the high road. We're fighting back appropriately."

The Citrix CEO detailed these efforts and his company's increasingly tight relationship with Microsoft.

XenDesktop and XenApp upswing

Citrix has updated XenDesktop and XenApp four times over the past year, most recently adding new bandwidth optimization features to XenDesktop 7.13. This renewed focus on these products has led to increased adoption, Tatarinov said.

"That's probably the place where a lot of innovation went in and a lot of work has happened," he said.

It's only logical for people to deploy Windows desktops and Windows applications from the Microsoft cloud.
Kirill TatarinovCEO, Citrix

The acquisitions of Norskale and Unidesk have also driven growth in XenDesktop and XenApp adoption, he added. Citrix folded Norskale's user environment management software into those products last year. This month, the company released Citrix App Layering, its new name for Unidesk's product. Citrix already had its own app-layering product, AppDisk, but Unidesk is a more established product with a larger user base.

In addition, more customers are looking to deliver virtual applications instead of full desktops, and the push to the cloud has led to a "resurgence in XenApp," Tatarinov said. The new XenDesktop and XenApp Essentials offering on the Azure Marketplace, which replaces Microsoft's own Azure RemoteApp, allows customers to deliver Windows 10 desktops and apps from the cloud. Most customers use the XenApp portion, Tatarinov said.

Existing XenDesktop and XenApp shops, as well as new customers, are adopting Citrix Cloud services, he said.

"The drivers are obvious: complexity of VDI deployment, lack of IT talent, desire to stay current on the latest technology," he added. "Most importantly, now [more] than ever before, it's cybersecurity."

Microsoft partnership

The longtime partnership between Citrix and Microsoft strengthened over the past year, and the companies will announce more joint ventures at this year's Synergy conference, Tatarinov said.

Replacing Azure RemoteApp with XenDesktop and XenApp Essentials was one of the biggest moves the companies made.

"It's only logical for people to deploy Windows desktops and Windows applications from the Microsoft cloud," Tatarinov said. "Partnering with Microsoft was of paramount importance to us, and it is helping."

Later this quarter, the companies will further integrate their enterprise mobility management (EMM) offerings with the release of a XenMobile Essentials edition specifically for users of Microsoft Intune and Enterprise Mobility and Security. This cloud service aims to let Microsoft EMM shops use the more advanced features of XenMobile, such as the ability to set and enforce policies around jailbroken devices and geofencing.

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