I’ve gained a new respect for marketing since working with some of my colleagues in CSC recently. However for me marketing needs to work towards 3 key goals:
- provide a framework that’s allows for complexity to be reduced at a high level, but then gradually decomposed to lower levels of detail
- help people with a common need discover common services and solutions that meet that need
- improve the quality of decisions
- provide names that reduce confusion
Overall I score Citrix pretty highly, perhaps 7/10
The framework – 9/10
Citrix did pretty well here. The framework seems to have two dimensions, first there is the lifecycle, which goes:
- Delivery controllers
- All of the above essentially connect to a delivery network
Its nice and simple, maps well to the real world and has the nice analogy of the delivery of TV.
Join common needs to common solutions – 5/10
Generally Citrix did well here, except for XenApp and XenDesktop. Here the relative positioning of the two technologies was difficult to work out:
- Superficially it seems easy
- XenApp for apps and XenDesktop for desktops, but wait
- XenApp is fine for task worker desktops, and that’s 30% of users, ok so far
- 55% of users are positioned for XenDesktop – because those users need personalization, but hang on provisioning server only really supports personalisation that can be persisted in the profile – which XenApp supports anyway! So doesn’t that mean that at least some of those 55% are candidates for XenApp!!!
- That leaves 15% of people who are mobile, but one session later we are told that its projected that 30-50% of people will be mobile by 2010!!
- Finally XenApp is a great solution for mobile workers who need access to enterprise client server and sometimes web apps but that’s not mentioned.
All this confusion would have been fixed if it had been made clear that this positioning is strategic, it’s not deliverable with the currently shipping products, but new innovation will make it real over time. This is important because the client and server infrastructure we invest in for XenApp and XenDesktop is going to be with us for 4-6 years which means getting your strategic positioning right is key, since we are going to see perhaps 3 software updates on the same hardware.
As to the mobility numbers my guess is that 15% need laptops and that the remaining 15-35% would be better served by a combination of XenDesktop, their personal desktop/laptop and a Smart phone.
The decision support – 3/10
(see also above)
I do like some of the messaging, examples being:
- Separate OS from Apps from Environment
- A new PC every day
- Delivery centre not data centre
But I don’t like that even in the technical sessions they don’t really drill into the reality behind the message. There tends to be little high level positioning, for example:
- No discussion on timing, ie when some of the high level vision will be delivered to which use cases
- No discussion of completeness, ie what doesn’t work – where are the limitations
- No discussion of assumptions, that underly the message, but if not true for a customer might render the message irrelevant
I’m not going to pick through each of the messages here, but I will give an example of how they could have been improved – i’m making up the details!:
- Timing, lets take XenDesktop which is positioned as appropriate for 55% of users, Citrix could have made clear that this was their vision and said that the current product probably targets say 20% of those with the current release
- Completeness, it wasn’t made clear that XenDesktop and XenApp whilst they both use ICA and both use SpeedScreen use different versions with different overlapping but distinct features
- Assumptions, a new desktop every day assumes people logoff every day. I routinely stay logged onto my desktop PC for 25 days at a time, I can’t imagine what logging off every day would do to my productivity! Certainly it would wipe out any TCO benefit
The naming – 2/10
XenApp, XenServer, XenDesktop and netscaler are the key names it’s here that I’m less impressed:
- I really like them as high level brands:
- I really dislike the confusion around the use of the brands:
- The brands are used to name suites, eg XenDesktop Standard, that contains products from the other suites/products/families
- The brands are named after the delivery controllers, but they sometimes include other delivery controllers, repeaters, gateways and receivers
- The suites contain products, but the suite names are also used in place of the product names, eg XenApp is used to describe Citrix Presentation Server and Application Streaming. XenDesktop is used to describe the broker and the Virtual machine manager, and sometimes provisioning server
- The names are also used for families of products, ie several different NetScalers from $10K to $250K
- An names assume a single use, eg:
- XenApp is assumed to be about application delivery, but today it’s arguably applicable for more desktop delivery use cases than XenDesktop.
- It’s my guess that it won’t be long before XenDesktop is used to deliver apps, competitor brokers already support this
- NetScaler is a delivery controller, but the same hardware includes gateways and repeater functionality