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Citrix Channel Chief Mark Palomba Will Leave His Role As Company Mulls New Structure

Wade Tyler Millward

‘Because we are decentralizing some key functions on the role, I think it gives us a greater opportunity to actually bring on board or promote channel chiefs that are specific to channel types. We’re debating whether that is a more effective approach to make sure that we tailor to each partner type,’ says Citrix Chief Customer Officer Hector Lima.

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Ahead of a Citrix Systems stockholder meeting later this month to approve plans to take Citrix private and merge it with Tibco, Citrix has been making major changes in the name of “decentralizing” its partner program, pushing more resources for partners “out to the edge” and making Citrix easier to do business with for partners.

One of the biggest changes for the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based virtualization and cloud computing vendor is the end of Mark Palomba’s time as the company’s channel chief.

Hector Lima, Citrix’s executive vice president and chief customer officer, said Palomba will leave the role as Citrix reorganizes its channel partner program to provide a simpler and faster experience for partners.

[RELATED: Citrix Exec Vows ‘More Focus On The Channel’ Amid Big Changes]

“A lot of what I’m talking about here is decentralizing what we have now as a centralized channel function,” Lima said.

He said that partners’ voices “will be amplified now because we’re moving that empowerment to the field.”

Palomba—or more formally, the company’s senior vice president of worldwide partner sales and ecosystems—will stay in his role through the acquisition, Lima said. After that, Palomba may transition into a new role or leave the company.

Lima declined to talk about changes for Tibco’s channel partner program, saying more information will come after the shareholder vote to approve the deal on April 21.

CRN has requested an interview with Palomba.

Ray Wolf, CEO of Southlake, Texas-based Citrix partner A2K Partners, told CRN that he is happy with the overall investments Citrix is making. Although A2K is not yet a Tibco partner, Wolf is interested in how the two companies stitch themselves together.

“Now that it’s starting to reveal itself, what the future looks like and the focus where the investment is going to go—we’re pretty jazzed about it,” Wolf said. “We’re fired back up. I’ll say we’re ‘pre-pandemic-fired-back-up’ about Citrix.”

Palomba began handling channel chief duties after his channel chief predecessor, Bronwyn Hastings, left Citrix in May for Google Cloud. Palomba joined Citrix in 2020.

His role transition came during a period of multiple leadership changes for the vendor. Lima himself received his new job title in July, moving up from executive vice president of customer experience.

And interim President and CEO and Bob Calderoni took his role in October after former President and CEO David Henshall stepped down.

As for a single channel chief that succeeds Palomba, Lima is considering various options.

“Because we are decentralizing some key functions on the role, I think it gives us a greater opportunity to actually bring on board or promote channel chiefs that are specific to channel types,” Lima said.

“We’re debating whether that is a more effective approach to make sure that we tailor to each partner type. That’s what we’re thinking about now. But, still to be determined.”

Planning With All Channels From The Beginning 

As part of the effort to decentralize the partner program, Citrix will move partner account managers into the sales organizations instead of their current position—rolled up in a central channel function under one channel chief. The move should allow partners to adapt faster to customer needs, Lima said.

“They’ll report into each of the geography vice presidents that basically are the GMs for those businesses,” Lima said.

“It’s all about alignment, moving that decision-making out to the edge and really making sure that for our partners and in all types of routes to market, they are really integrating and working with one Citrix team as opposed to maybe multiple teams. That’s key for us.”

Citrix will also move global partner functions—including operations and go-to-market programs—into “the respective broader global teams that do those functions, not just for the channel but for all of sales within the organization,” Lima said.

Having channel functions separate from Citrix’s global teams creates two teams and slows down efficiency, Lima said. This is why he wants channel functions embedded in the broader Citrix teams.

“We’re integrating those global functions into the greater operations and go-to-market teams that we have in the organization,” Lima said. “So why do we think this is important and why are we making the move? Our entire global go-to-market strategy will benefit greatly by having the channel embedded in it from day one. Whereas the first one, it’s all about the edge—this is really day one planning. How do we ensure that everything we do from the planning to execution has the channel embedded from day one into each of those functions?”

He continued: “Making sure that we plan with all of our channels and routes to market from the beginning is something that we tend to continue to go back and try to readdress. I think if we start with that from the beginning and have the channel embedded, we’ll have a much better flow of all of our go-to-market strategy, our programs, our incentive plans and so on and so forth.”

Although Citrix partners will notice some changes right away, Lima said the changes put the company in a better position for next year.

“This is a big, established business for us. And anytime that we’re going to make any strategic changes, it takes time. So I’m really doing this now because I want to hit the ground running come 2023, but definitely we’ll see things start to change this year.“

More Program Changes

Along with the upcoming changes, Citrix has made adjustments to its incentive programs over the past six months, Lima said.

“We made our most profitable incentives tied to our SaaS strategy so it aligns to what we‘re doing as a business. We simplified the quoting process for our transition and trade up—our TTUs—so it’s much easier for partners to quote.”

Citrix also introduced auto-approvals for partners who bring opportunities to Citrix. “While it was great that we had these incentives, partners were saying, ‘Hey look, the approval process, if we’re going to get it or not, sometimes it’s ambiguous,’” Lima said. “So we put some auto-approval processes in place. So that way it has predictability.”

Third, the company revamped its renewal rebate incentives to better suit partners by tying it to the SaaS business. “That aligns not only what we want as a company to make sure that we enhance our SaaS business but also brings our partners along for that journey, because now it protects their profitability and their predictability of their financial model as long as it’s within our SaaS business,” Lima said.

The company also invested in more proof-of-concept enablement for partners, with more automation in the enablement process, he said.

Citrix has tried to spread out its incentives across the entire sales life cycle so that partners are rewarded at the beginning and end of a deal and aren’t just collecting transaction fees. These partners are also better set up to sell a customer more products and services later on, he said.

“That’s why you also see things that are triggered based on adoption across that customer life cycle. because we want to ensure that partners are not just there—and I know many of them don’t—but they’re not just there for the transaction fees, but they’re also helping that customer realize that value,” Lima said. “It’s best for everybody. It creates loyalty with that customer. it creates incremental dollars and opportunities for that partner as they manage those environments.”

The channel will remain important for Citrix’s business, Lima said. Executives at Vista Equity Partners and Elliott Management—the two private equity firms taking Citrix private and merging it with Vista portfolio company Tibco—were attracted to Citrix’s success in part because of its channel partners.

In February, a high level source close to the deal told CRN that improving Citrix’s channel execution is part of the plan for Citrix’s future.

Partners participate in upward of 70 percent of Citrix’s business, he said.

And for partners, Citrix remains a top contender in the field of Desktop as a Service, cloud and virtualization, he said. And partners of the biggest cloud vendors—Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google—should look at Citrix for a way to add to their offerings.

“Those partners that really grow and scale their business are those that find logical adjacencies to our technology,” Lima said. “So many of them say, ‘Look, not only do I make money on selling Citrix solutions and then managing those solutions, but there are these other logical technologies that I can add around them that allow me to increase that wallet share with that customer.’ That’s what you typically see with those best partners that are maximizing returns for themselves.”

He continued: “Customers tell me all the time that Citrix is a pull technology for them. Once they have that as one of their beachheads, it pulls a lot of other solutions that they can bring to the table to their customers, and that’s really what they look for as they try to round out the portfolio products.”

Wade Tyler Millward

Wade Tyler Millward is an associate editor covering cloud computing and the channel partner programs of Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix and other cloud vendors. He can be reached at wmillward@thechannelcompany.com.

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