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Despite advancements, desktop virtualization can still be expensive and complicated. Vendors offer a slew of different products and services that organizations can choose from to fill their needs.
As Citrix Synergy 2017 approaches, IT professionals have high expectations for a more simplified vision from the desktop virtualization market leader. Here, Mark Bowker, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., discusses what IT pros should dig into at the conference, how Citrix needs to prioritize the cloud desktop model and whether Microsoft could potentially acquire the company.
What are the biggest areas where Citrix has made progress in the last year?
Mark Bowker: Most of their progress has been better organization inside the company. What Citrix has done is take a lot of their products now and tell a cohesive security message that resonates across all of them. It's not just about NetScaler delivering more secure access to applications. It's not just about being able to use VDI to centrally run desktops. It's not just about being able to use ShareFile to secure data. They're going to really talk about being able to have better security visibility as a whole with all of these products that they can snap together.
What are the security risks that IT should prepare for?
Bowker: The threat perimeter has expanded. When I was in IT ... it was pretty simple. You protect the network and protect the data center and have some antivirus, and you're good. But today, people use smartphones and tablets and applications that are consumed not just from the data center, but other cloud resources. All of those introduce new threat vectors.
What products do customers want to hear about at Citrix Synergy 2017?
Bowker: In the past, Citrix has been pretty split up as a company. You'd go to the event, and there was everything from GoToMeeting to XenDesktop, XenApp, XenMobile, NetScaler, CloudBridge, ShareFile and all these differences pieces. Based on your interests or usage of those products, you would hone your agenda toward them. But I think you're going to see those all come together, really, to get people thinking of Citrix as a complete platform.
How can Citrix maintain its upswing in the eyes of IT?
Mark Bowkersenior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group
Bowker: You've got some fairly large Citrix environments, and they're still tagged as being complex and costly. That comes down to the cost of the administrator to run that environment, and the training and certification and the salary that that person may demand. And it comes down to the investment they have to make for that infrastructure.
Citrix really needs to communicate to those customers that moving to a different economic model -- maybe more of a consumption-based model, leveraging the cloud, for example -- is going to be important. There are alternatives to deploying a very costly infrastructure to support a Citrix environment, and ... Citrix customers still need to make that transition.
Do you think Citrix will be acquired?
Bowker: Ever since I deployed Citrix many years ago, there was discussion about why doesn't Microsoft buy this technology. So, it's not new. I think since [CEO Kirill Tatarinov has] come on board, he's done a fantastic job getting the company on track, to where it is really aligned well from a product perspective and aligned well to what the market needs are. Sure, they're always an interesting acquisition candidate. You could find many traditional IT vendors that could be potentially interesting suitors for the technology, as well as private equity firms.
The thing to recognize is Microsoft's interest in Citrix is really the customers ... and the Microsoft support it has out there. I don't think the technology is as interesting to Microsoft, because at the end of the day, it kind of complements a lot of what Microsoft does. If Microsoft ever sensed there was a risk of not being able to extend their hand and help Citrix customers easily ... that would make things interesting from an acquisition perspective. But Microsoft [today] can still reach out and work with the customers.
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