Citrix's Top Technical Exec To Retire This Month As Employee Exodus Continues

Citrix Systems has seen several executives head for the exits in recent months, but it's doubtful any of them have contributed as much to the vendor's success over the years as Brad Pedersen.

Pedersen, chief architect and senior fellow at Citrix, is retiring at the end of the month after 26 years at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based vendor. As the seventh employee hired at Citrix, Pedersen helped the vendor stake an early claim in areas like remote access, application virtualization and the Windows ecosystem.

One of his biggest achievements at Citrix was developing the Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) protocol, now called HDX, which allows data to be transferred from servers to clients across different platforms. Many of the 37 U.S. patents Pedersen holds pertain to ICA.

[Related: Sources: Citrix Mulling Sale Or Spinoff Of Its Online Services Unit]

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Tal Klein, vice president of strategy at Lakeside Software, a Citrix partner based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., said in an interview Wednesday that Pedersen "has had a huge influence" on Citrix's technical direction" over the years.

ICA has given Citrix the advantage it has today over its competitors in the application virtualization space, said Klein.

In addition to his technical abilities, Pedersen also played a key role in helping Citrix adjust to changing marketplace dynamics as well as technology shifts, according to Klein.

"He knew in the future, apps would be delivered not only from servers to users, but also over the web," Klein told CRN. "He was always seen as someone whose decisions were driven by technology and market adoption, rather than by brand awareness."

Pedersen, in a Q&A posted to Citrix's website earlier this month, said security is an area that is getting much more attention now than when he started out at the vendor.

"Twenty-five years ago we didn’t even talk about security. I would argue that most of the same security issues existed back then but the use of mobile devices wasn’t prevalent enough to make it worthwhile," Pedersen said in the Q&A.

"I believe the situation will improve since we are now much more focused on security. But we still have a lot of work to do to make sure all the legacy code doesn’t have security issues," said Pedersen in the Q&A.

Although Pedersen is retiring, Citrix has seen a number of top executives leave recently, including several that weren't part of the 700 job cuts the vendor announced in February. Citrix is also facing growing competition to many core products and warned investors last week that it would miss its profit and revenue forecast for the current quarter.

Citrix is also considering selling or spinning off its online services unit, home to products like GoToMeeting and GoToMyPC, sources told CRN this week.

Klein said he doesn't think Pedersen's departure has anything to do with the current turmoil, nor does he believe it will negatively impact Citrix's technical direction. He said Pedersen is "too intrinsically involved" with Citrix not to remain involved at some level.

"Citrix doesn't need to replace Brad, but they need to ensure that the architectural philosophies he brought remain intact," Klein said.