Citrix Wants Partners To See Amazon As An Ally In The Cloud

Unlike VMware, whose executives have lobbed verbal grenades at Amazon Web Services, Citrix Systems has decided its best course of action is to partner with the Seattle-based public cloud giant.

That's why Citrix, which is holding its annual partner conference in Orlando, Fla., this week, won't be referring to Amazon as "a company that sells books," as VMware COO Carl Eschenbach did last February in a rhetoric-laced speech to partners.

Trash talk of that sort isn't part of Citrix's playbook, Tom Flink, vice president of worldwide channels and market development at Citrix, said in an interview last week. "That's not the culture of our business to speak about the industry that way -- about anyone," he told CRN.

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Citrix and Amazon have worked together for years. Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp both run on the Amazon EC2 cloud, and Citrix sells its NetScaler and XenMobile products on the Amazon Marketplace. The Amazon EC2 cloud is built on Xen virtualization.

Flink said roughly 2,000 partners will be attending the partner conference, including VARs, systems integrators and a "big, growing group of service providers" that are using Citrix technology to deliver services under their own brand.

Citrix also unveiled a new Certified Professional Mobility certification Monday, along with margin incentives for partners that sell XenMobile, the first product to arise from Citrix's acquisition of Zenprise last January.

At the event, Citrix will talk about how the next version of its XenDesktop product will be integrated with the Amazon cloud. This means Citrix customers will be able to run on-premise desktop virtualization software and deploy instances in the AWS cloud as needed, Flink said.

"We ultimately believe that DaaS, from Amazon, or in any form, is a validation of our business model," Flink said. "We have been working with Amazon, and we recognize that many of our customers are working with them to provide solutions for parts of an IT infrastructure."

While Citrix doesn't sell DaaS, VMware will be competing directly with Amazon in this part of the market. VMware plans to sell a DaaS service directly to customers using technology from its acquisition last October of Desktone, which has a multitenant DaaS architecture.

But just because Citrix is partnering with Amazon doesn't mean customers are ready to move everything to the cloud, Flink said. "Desktops need to be close to the data and the apps that are being run. Often our technology is used to aggregate access to all of that," he said.

Citrix, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is giving out T-shirts at the event commemorating the milestone. Citrix has hired rocker Jon Bon Jovi to perform at the conference, and Flink said it's possible he'll be wearing one of the T-shirts during the show.