Citrix Creates Chief Strategy Officer Role, Hires Longtime Bechtel CIO To Fill It

Citrix Systems wants to be a household name for enterprise mobility, and earlier this week it hired a cloud-savvy executive from one of its biggest customers to help make it happen.

Geir Ramleth, who spent 11 years as CIO of Bechtel Corp., joined Citrix on Monday as senior vice president and chief strategy officer, reporting to CEO Mark Templeton.

Ramleth has been a friend and go-to reference for Templeton for many years, sources familiar with the matter told CRN.

In a video shown at Citrix's Synergy conference in 2012, Ramleth talked about how Bechtel used Citrix virtualization and networking technologies in large construction and engineering projects.

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Mike Hogan, CEO of Hogan Consulting Group, a Chesterton, Ind.-based Citrix partner, said having a chief strategy officer will help the vendor compete more effectively in the enterprise marketplace.

"Right now, Citrix has great products that compete very well in the virtualization and mobility space. Unfortunately, they are competing head-to-head [against other vendors], and that is not good," Hogan told CRN.

[Related: Citrix CEO Templeton Bullish On Future, But Wall Street Might Need Convincing]

Citrix has highly regarded technology, but several partners told CRN the vendor has lost some of its competitive edge in recent years. They're hoping Ramleth can help Citrix come up with better ways of showcasing its considerable technological chops.

"They do need someone to manage their product strategy around the whole stack, and figure out where to build and where to buy," one Citrix partner told CRN. "They have good businesspeople on this, but as far as I know, there's no real technical head of this decision process."

Ramleth also has a solid cloud background and that could help Citrix come up with new types of products, the partner said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Citrix is facing increasing pressure from VMware, which is going hard after its application virtualization and desktop virtualization businesses, and also poaching some of its top executives.

Templeton, who changed his mind about stepping down as Citrix CEO in June, has vowed to sharpen Citrix's competitive edge.

"We have imitators and aggressive competitors. Citrix is, however, the real thing," Templeton said in a post to his Facebook followers in June.

Creating the chief strategy officer position, and hiring one of his top customer's CIOs to fill it, could free up Templeton to fully articulate the things Citrix does that other vendors can't match.