Citrix Synergy 2015: Loving Means Listening
by DJ Eshelman, on May 28, 2015 4:48:10 PM
I was proud to once again represent GTRI at Citrix Synergy 2015 this year. If I had to distill it all down to one word for the year, it would be: LOVE.
I know, that sounds a little odd for a tech company, and certainly a little odd for me to say as well, but it’s true. Be it vendors, customers, partners or Citrix employees, we all felt connected, which, in my opinion, has always been the goal of Synergy.
I arrived early in Orlando to not only get settled and spend some time with some advance sessions, but also to attend the Global Partner Council – a “meeting of the minds” for a very select group of partners. As a leading Platinum Solution Advisor partner, GTRI was proud to be there. The council meets the day before Synergy to discuss what is coming up, and also to have interactive time with the Citrix leadership for questions and feedback. To be honest, it is usually fairly dry stuff.
This year, however, I witnessed something that blew me away, and makes me feel really good about being a Citrix partner. I can’t discuss the specifics of it in too much detail, but let me explain what I can share.
In the course of giving the partners an advance notice of some of the themes to come in the keynote, Citrix leadership was excited to make an announcement about a new product. Immediately there were rumblings about the room as the partners shifted in their seats. I echoed the concerns. The product was a good idea but with a name and positioning that just wasn’t going to sit well with our teams or you, the customer -- so we said so. For 20 minutes or so following the announcement, partners like myself voiced their concerns.
Next on the agenda was Mark Templeton, CEO of Citrix. He had prepared some things to say, but threw them all out. Instead we spent the next hour and a half – well over the time originally allotted – discussing the product and our opinions. Now here is where it gets really interesting. This is the day before the big announcement. Mark even noted that the press releases were ready, and the slides all prepared, but if we felt that it was important, they’d shred them all and pull the announcement completely. The room collectively gave it some thought, and the conclusion was made -- pull it. I knew it would make for a difficult time re-doing a big part of the next day’s keynote, and that the teams at Citrix would be scrambling to change pace very much last minute, but Citrix listened.
I have been in this industry a long number of years, and I have NEVER experienced something like this. Most companies I deal with simply tell you what they are doing, and there is no discussion. Citrix has obviously decided to listen. And that, as it turns out, was the first theme of the keynote the next day.
Keynotes and Expo
There is an old axiom – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Mark Templeton kicked off the Synergy day one keynote with news on XenApp 6.5. With millions of applications delivered via XenApp, Citrix has listened and extended support for XenApp 6.5, as well as announcing new features in an upcoming feature pack that will keep the product relevant, including support for Director and enhancements to the HDX delivery that look to be amazing.
Mark also delved into a new product Citrix launched earlier this year called CubeFree, which he described as “Yelp for Mobile Workforces.” I’ll be honest, while it seems like a fairly good idea, I am actually not sure what the use case is. It has some potential for those of us who don’t keep a traditional office – being able to check-in to places, find Wi-Fi, connect with people and even have a private edition for your workforce. It’s an interesting concept that I tried a little bit while I was there, but I’m not sure it will take off. Time will tell!
Next Mark talked about the concept of Workspaces, which are touted to provide “Whatever you need to accomplish your tasks, independently of your device.” For example, designing an aircraft can’t be done on one device. The concept here is “AND” as in, your laptop AND your phone AND your tablet AND devices (Internet of Things). IT needs to be ready for all of the ANDs that are coming.
Next, Mark went a little off script by plugging in his personal device, which didn’t go well. Though he demonstrated using LTE to avoid Wi-Fi interference connecting to the new WorkspacePod, he also attempted to use the X1 mouse, which was given to all attendees to try. Unfortunately, he didn’t pair the mouse in advance, and with thousands of Bluetooth devices in the room it was too difficult for the iPhone to handle, but the thought was there and the WorkspacePod looked awesome.
Day two of keynotes highlighted the Internet of Things (IoT) – Citrix has been investing in this space with the new Octoblu platform, and they demo’d some device-oriented workflows using devices like the Amazon Echo.
Of course, one of the things I look forward to every year is seeing all of the new innovations from all of our other partners (and potential partners) out there, and I felt that this year the expo was not only well attended but even more valuable than last year. Citrix really did put the focus on partners and vendors this year. Everything from new hardware platforms from Intel and ViewSonic, to infrastructure solutions and innovations in storage, to monitoring platforms and management tools. And that’s just what I had the time to visit.
One More Thing
Attendees at Citrix always look forward to the “One More Thing.” This year, a group called the Nimble Collective was highlighted. They are animation experts that help independent artists (the small guy) collaborate in the cloud using technology from Citrix and our friends at NVIDIA. They demonstrated 3D rendering and development collaborating with multiple people nationwide in a virtual workspace using the HTML5 receiver. See their efforts here.
I also took some time to see the capabilities of the combination of XenServer 6.5, NVIDIA GRID and the new Citrix Receiver in action. The results were stunning – imagine playing the game “Borderlands” on a thin client!
As for the rest of the conference, it was great to connect and re-connect with so many customers and partners, meet new friends and vendors, enjoy a great time and of course toast to everyone's success with the beverage of choice. For Mark T., champagne:
and for the rest of us perhaps:
I’m already looking forward to next year!
By the way, I took a lot of notes on announcements and product updates. I’ll share those in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!