Citrix Parent Company Names New Channel Chief, Introduces Partner Program Changes
Wade Tyler Millward
‘It’s about – how do we allow them (partners) to do their job faster, easier, simpler,’ CSG channel chief Ethan Fitzsimons tells CRN in an interview.
Cloud Software Group, the result of the $16.5 billion merger of cloud and virtualization vendor Citrix and enterprise applications vendor Tibco, has named Ethan Fitzsimons as its channel chief and promises a simpler, more predictable and more profitable partner program in 2023.
Fitzsimons, a three-year employee of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix who now has the formal title of global head of channels for Cloud Software Group (CSG), told CRN in an interview that Citrix partners will go live with the new program on March 6.
Tibco partners won’t see any partner program changes for now, but the goal is to eventually unite the two vendors in a singular program.
“It’s about – how do we allow them (partners) to do their job faster, easier, simpler,” Fitzsimons said. “How can we be simpler to work with? More predictable. More profitable. And really remove any of the inhibitors – in most cases, artificial inhibitors – that were slowing down the pace of business that we could do with our partners. … We allowed ourselves to become a little bit too complex when it came to our partner program. … That’s feedback that I received from our partners consistently.”
[RELATED: Citrix-Tibco Close $17B Deal, Uniting Virtualization And Enterprise Apps Vendors]
Citrix And CSG Name Channel Chief, Change Partner Program
Fitzsimons – the successor to former Citirx channel chief Mark Palomba – previously held the title of chief operating officer for worldwide partner sales and ecosystems, according to his LinkedIn account. He joined Citrix in 2020 with the title of managing director for worldwide distribution and channel sales.
Prior to joining Citrix, he worked at LogicalisUS for about a year in business development. He also worked at Informatica for about a year, leaving in 2019 as director of global partner programs and distribution, according to his LinkedIn account.
His resume includes more than 10 years with Tech Data – now part of TD Synnex – and Avnet Technology Solutions, which Tech Data acquired in 2017. Fitzsimons left Tech Data in 2018 with the title of director of data and networking solutions.
Fitzsimons reports to Natalie Polson, CSG’s senior vice president of global commercial sales and channels business.
Polson’s new title is also a promotion. She previously served as Citrix’s senior vice president of global customer success and subscription, according to her LinkedIn account.
She started with Citrix in 2017 as the vice president of digital sales for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. Before Citrix, she worked at IBM, leaving the tech giant with the title of vice president of digital sales for the United Kingdom and Ireland, according to her LinkedIn account.
Polson reports to Hector Lima, CSG’s executive vice president of field and channel sales. Lima reports to CSG CEO Tom Krause.
Fitzsimons’ description of the new partner program follows an interview Lima gave CRN in April about changes coming to the program.
Citrix is happy with its consumption-based Citrix Service Provider Program, but will consolidate the varieties of its Citrix Solution Advisor (CSA) resell program that have developed over the years, Fitzsimons said.
“We’re consolidating down all of those different flavors of resell programs into a single program,” he said. “So it’s a very singular, simplified program. And then we‘ll differentiate within the program for some of those nuances by partner tier. But we’re not going to have completely separate programs that have separate rules and separate requirements and so forth.”
Citrix also has plans for a set of stackable discounts applicable in real time when partners quote prices.
Fitzsimons also promised improved training, enablement and education for partners. The company will still have some required on-site training and traditional certifications, but it will offer on-demand, consumable training modules as well.
“Everything does not necessarily need to be a two-day bootcamp to pick up pieces of value,” he said. “So it’s, really, how do we deliver more easily consumable enablement and training to a broader audience than perhaps we have done historically.”
Channel partners are “more important now than ever” for CSG and its go-to-market, he said. And customer demand is “certainly still strong” despite competition in the cloud and virtual desktop space from vendors such as Microsoft and Nerdio, VMware and Amazon Web Services.
“We went through an interesting period of time over the past few years,” he said. “When I joined the company and the pandemic was hitting, obviously, that caused unintended, sometimes unnatural, things to occur in terms of the shift to remote work and so on and so forth. But that overall trend still continues. And from a technology standpoint, there‘s nothing that has slipped (for Citrix) in terms of viability or customer demand.”
Fitzsimons continued: “We have a really unique position by being the de facto standard in the space that provides us an opportunity most others don‘t have. … The shift toward our new business unit model is going to provide us a lot more flexibility and a lot more focus at the same time around driving those specific technologies and customer value points forward. Our partners will continue to see that especially as we move further into 2023 and beyond.”
Paul Kunze, CEO of Braintree, Mass.-based Citrix partner IntraSystems, told CRN in an interview that his company has benefited from strong demand for Citrix products in the health care, state and local governments and finance industries, particularly at the midmarket and enterprise level.
CSG’s NetScaler offering -- which was broken out into an independent business line within the parent company -- also continues to see strong demand from customers, Kunze said. He welcomes Citrix pushing more accounts to partners.
"We’re going to be relied on quite a bit more than we have for the last three years," he said. "Citrix is a long-standing product that many customers rely on, depend on, have. There's a culture out there of people that work within that Citrix platform that is still there."