After Turbulent Year, New CEO Introduces 'New Citrix' At Synergy Conference

Citrix Systems kicked off its annual Synergy conference Tuesday with its new CEO sharing a new vision for a company in the midst of a turbulent transformation.

Kirill Tatarinov took the stage in Las Vegas to unveil "a new Citrix to the world" -- a company diving deeper into a cloud delivery model for its legacy products, and expanding upon its long-standing partnership with Microsoft to deliver Windows 10 as a remote desktop.

Tatarinov, who took the helm of the company in January after an activist investor shakeup and the exit of longtime leader Mark Templeton, told partners and customers his goal was to help them understand the product road map and the company's priorities going forward.

[Related: Citrix Retiring 'High Touch' Account Restrictions That Were Panned By Partners]

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The Citrix solution portfolio focuses on the four "megatrends" reshaping the industry: cloud, big data analytics, mobile and the Internet of Things.

"Cloud is an absolute unquestioned reality," Tatarinov said. "We see that the majority of companies today are deploying public cloud workloads. And it's just the beginning. It's just the acceleration that's starting now."

And mobility isn't about the number of devices shipped, he said, "but how close we have moved to this dream to have one device for everything in our lives."

That's why Citrix is transitioning from an on-premises product model to one of delivering services from the cloud to those mobile devices -- "the most significant transformation Citrix has ever done," Tatarinov told attendees.

Updates are coming to the company's three primary products: the Xen family of virtualization platforms, ShareFile and NetScaler.

The Xen line will be updated with XenDesktop 7.9 and XenServer 7, supporting the Intel Iris Pro GPU.

For companies running DevOps-style infrastructure, the new NetScaler CPX puts the application delivery controller in a Docker container. And Citrix will also be releasing a new NetScaler management and analytics system, Tatarinov said.

And while ShareFile probably has the least name recognition among the portfolio, the file syncing and sharing service caters to 20 million users, according to the company. That product will be integrated deeper with Microsoft Office 365, allowing ShareFile users to edit documents online.

Citrix also has introduced information rights management to the service, ''something that's incredibly important, but surprisingly not broadly used across enterprise IT," Tatarinov said.

Citrix is also adding support for the low-cost Raspberry Pi tablet, "a very interesting and truly revolutionary form factor," Tatarinov said, with a thin client called Citrix HDX Ready Pi.

The totality of products work better than the sum of their parts, the CEO told attendees, and are elevating the company to being a services and solutions provider.

The former Microsoft exec said one thing he's heard partners clamoring for is to focus on its partnership with the world's biggest software company. The two companies have worked together for more than 25 years to help deploy Microsoft technologies to remote users.

"It would be fair to say historically our partnership was done and implemented on a very deep product level," he said, adding that Santa Clara, Calif.-based Citrix is now taking its partnership with Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., to the next level.

Emphasizing that point, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella delivered a brief video message to Synergy attendees, telling them joint efforts will yield new solutions around Azure, Office 365 and Windows 10.

"You will see some really incredible introduction of technologies as a result of this partnership," Tatarinov told attendees.

For starters, the companies are working together to enable XenDesktop to deliver Windows 10 as a virtual desktop hosted in Microsoft Azure.

"It's only logical for us to work with Azure cloud and make it our strategic choice for deploying Windows 10 VDI," Tatarinov told attendees.

The two will also be integrating NetScaler with Azure Active Directory, and working to improve mobile device management and mobile application management services for their mutual customers.

Tatarinov closed his keynote by emphasizing the dramatic changes in store for partners.

"In the coming weeks and months, you will see the entire Citrix portfolio of products and solutions move to the cloud," Tatarinov said. "It would be fair to say at Citrix, we're all in on the cloud."

That includes a cloud-based delivery emphasis for existing products like ShareFile, XenMobile and Lifecycle Management, as well as a long-in-development workspace-as-a-service offering, Citrix Cloud (previously called Workspace Cloud).

Carl Gersh, director of sales and marketing for Forthright Technology Partners, a Citrix partner based in Miramar, Fla., told CRN what he found interesting about the new CEO's first Synergy keynote was the lack of any attempt at pizazz.

"Everyone was anxious to see Citrix refocus on the core," Gersh said, and Tatarinov conveyed a "quiet, unassuming confidence" while articulating a "clear, grounded view of where to take the company."

Citrix has renewed its focus on building on is traditional strengths, and emphasizing the security benefits of its technologies, he said.

"I think that's kind of a smart move," Gersh told CRN. "When we talk to customers, the security element is an important element that Citrix brings to the table."

Several mentions from the CEO about the company's channel partners and ecosystem were refreshing, Gersh said, demonstrating what he believes is an increased channel friendliness.

Gersh said the keynote felt like the beginning of a reveal of the new Citrix. He wants to hear more as the event continues and as the new products are rolled out in the coming weeks and months.

It's time for Citrix to "buckle down, get serious and focused on what the market, customers and partners are asking for," Gersh said.