Citrix Synergy Barcelona “Super Session” aka Keynote

Citrix “Super Session”, Synergy Barcelona Oct 27, 2011

Otherwise called a Keynote, this morning’s session focused on three topics: Collaboration, Cloud, and Mobility. While Wednesday’s session was about announcements, this morning was about explaining the message. Mark T left the work to his minions (not sure if he was sleeping in or off somewhere). Can’t believe I am saying this, but I missed him (but only a little).

Kicked off by Citrix Online CTO Bert Christiansen, the first session on Collaboration was really about positioning the technologies that Citrix is involved with as being about changing the way work is done. There must have been something subliminal in the messaging yesterday, because that was exactly what I was thinking about over breakfast this morning.

I am convinced that we are in the throws of a serious change in how business gets done. Unfortunately, the “solutions” being sold are to today’s and yesterday’s problems. We think about enterprise employees as “task” or “knowledge” workers today, and part of what we need to do is change that thinking. Task worker jobs are jobs that either need to be replaced by automation, or fundamentally rethought of. We should be thinking about workers in categories of those that do their job by implementing processes and those that do their job by collaborating with others. For example, Call Center workers do the former. Today we treat them in a way that leads directly to customer dis-satisfaction. Rather than provide closed minded tools and encourage call volume handling to move the business forward, we should be enabling them to have better interaction with the customer to truly solve the callers problems. But how does the change being sold do this? No clue.

But the last 40 years have shown that businesses will need to use new technology to change the ways in which they get work done or they become less efficient and die. The keys, which were part of the messaging this morning are about transforming the infrastructure to get the work done. Each of the CTOs in essence talked about this, each in their own focused way.

CTO Bert used GoToMeeting, especially GTM HD Faces and the new Workspaces as a model to redefine how collaboration happens in the enterprise. More and more, getting work done involves working with people who may not be sitting right next to you. Structuring that work around tools to enable collaboration is nothing new, but kudos to Citrix for having a good one. Unfortunately, along the way, there was a very lame demo involving LinkedIn that looked to me like a perfect example of “because it can be done doesn’t mean it should”.

The demo involved Bert getting a request in Facebook for a video meeting, which he could launch right from Facebook. Really? Who spends all of their time in LinkedIn that I should receive the message there? Just send me via email, please, or else you won’t be there when I get around to noticing the request in a few weeks.

Second up was Sheng Liang, CTO of Citrix’s Cloud division, formerly from I had a great opportunity to meet Sheng and part of his team earlier this week at the CTP summit, and I was quite impressed. Again, theme was change, which of course is a necessary theme to sell cloud.

But Sheng’s message wasn’t that you need to go to the public cloud. One stat that came out of his session was the 2010 hardware shipments worldwide. 8.8M servers, 350.9M PCs. Desktops matter folks! Sheng’s message was more about using the lessons of the large public cloud to transform how you privately provide desktops. Not just hosting, but planning for disaster.

A XenDesktop deployment, managed via a private cloud using Cloud Portal was shown. It looked no harder than any other XenDesktop deployment in a demo (in other works: much easier than reality).

Although Sheng described it as “Desktop bursting into the cloud”, a great term to use with your CTO to get buy-in, I’m thinking of this more in terms of the initial part of this morning’s presentation. Creation of temporary work spaces (desktops) for a project. As you dynamically create a team for a project, create specially crafted desktops to enable them to do that job. Accessed from their permanent desktop, the user gets everything they need.

Third up was Martin Duursma, head of Citrix Labs and Chair of the office of the CTOs at Citrix. Martin’s theme was the importance of enabling Mobility. I still get a creepy feeling when the CTOs tell me that the iPhone and iPad require us to reinvent the workplace, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore the things.

Martin went into a segment about “vertical stacks” which was lost on me. Maybe it was just me, but I felt that it was either a poorly communicated message or the wrong audience for the message. I’m not even sure that the vertical stack concept is even a good one at a strategy (a good tactic for some yes, but not all).

Fortunately he moved on and we got our first announcement of the day. Martin brought Adam Jaques on stage and they made a XenApp announcement. Yes, the product was actually mentioned on stage for more than 5 seconds!

XenApp 6.5 Mobility Pack was announced. This is an SDK that developers can use to transform boring apps into ones that can use the rich local resources at the other end of receiver. Think things like display form factors and GPS and the like. In a likely first for Synergy, Visual Studio was shown and an app was transformed to work with the phone. It wasn’t anything as easy as shown to transform that app, but the concept was cool. Project GoldenGate was also shown (as a simple screen shot).

Martin also brought Ryan McCune, from Citrix partner Avanade on stage to demo using the SDK. In another likely first for a Citrix keynote, this wasn’t a live demo but a pre-recorded video of a demo. Something must have gone horribly wrong for this to happen at a Citrix keynote, but it was a demo of what the partner did and not a demo of a Citrix product directly.

It isn’t clear what Citrix Customers were suppose to take away from the keynote this morning. As my friend Dr. Benny suggested to me afterwards, there were no actions for the customers. Perhaps this was a result of Mark T not driving the show this morning, perhaps because Citrix hasn’t had enough time to absorb the new acquisitions, or perhaps Citrix themselves aren’t sure where customers should be going.

Change, yes. But change to what?

Categorized as All

By Tim Mangan

Tim is a Microsoft MVP, and a Citrix CTP Fellow. He is an expert in App-V and MSIX.