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Citrix certification program, sales/partner alignment in spotlight at Citrix Summit

Lynn Haber

Today, Citrix Summit 2014 kicked off with a new format that brings together Citrix sales and channel

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partners in the hope of generating alignment around purpose, focus and objectives for the year. The two-day Summit, which runs through Tuesday in Orlando Fla., has an additional celebratory air as Citrix, founded in 1989 as Citrus Systems Inc., celebrates its 25th anniversary.

With a total of about 4,000 Citrix employees and channel partners in attendance -- in a 50/50 mix -- Citrix's key message is to drive home three big themes, or sales imperatives, for the year: to sell the Citrix journey; expanding customer relationships; and increasing partner engagement.

Partners can expect to see tighter alignment with the Citrix sales team as evidenced through the work to drive sales engagements, targeted marketing activities at the field level, and lead generation.

Citrix is also introducing new incentives for partners to increase their margin capability, in particular around selling XenMobile to the company's installed base. "We're going to launch some customer promotions and partner promotions that provide incentives around the delivery of an end-to-end mobility solution to our customers that includes both desktop virtualization as well as global device management and enterprise mobility," said Tom Flink, Citrix worldwide channel chief.

The central focus of the two-day event is enabling Citrix salespeople and partners to be successful in the new year, according to Flink. Attendees have access to more than 80 breakout sessions in six tracks -- mobility, virtualization, networking, cloud, programs and alliances, and Citrix Servicer Provider -- as well as labs and trainings.

The enablement elements at Summit include how to sell the Citrix journey from tactical to strategic; sales and technical breakouts by product; industry-focused breakouts; instructor-led learning labs; and self-paced learning labs.

"We know that it takes time, effort and investment for our partners to bring their technical people to an event like this, and we want to make sure they walk away from this with more than they came with," Flink said.

Today's keynote session featured two guest vendor partner speakers: Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of cloud and enterprise at Microsoft, and Frank Palumbo, vice president of global data center/virtualization sales at Cisco.

Citrix and Microsoft addressed how they deliver better together: Microsoft around its virtualization stack at the server level and systems management combined with Citrix technologies for application and desktop virtualization; the ubiquity of platforms supported by the Citrix, that is, Windows servers and clients; the ability to help customers migrate applications and, ultimately, desktop operating systems to modernize their IT infrastructure to deliver those things as a service.

In partnership with Cisco, Citrix has seen tremendous success selling its desktop virtualization solutions to customers with Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), according to Flink. Keynote guest Palumbo highlighted how Cisco has invested heavily in validating the design, the infrastructure, the technical team support and the enablement of the company's sales organization to be able to jointly support the Citrix channel as well as engage with the customer directly in a holistic and unified way.

A major announcement that Citrix partners will be hearing about is a new solutions-based Citrix certification program that's launching as of the Summit conference. The new certifications are available for desktops and apps, networking, and mobility.

The new certification program features three levels of certification: Certified Associate, Certified Professional and Certified Expert. "This rebuilding of the company's certification program was done so in a way that benefits our partners significantly," Flink said.

Existing Citrix certifications were built on a partner's ability to manage and administer a product. "Now what we've done is taken a step back and thought about what needs to happen throughout the lifecycle of working with the customer, from designing, deploying, running and supporting a solution," Flink said.

All previous Citrix certifications are still valid for meeting partner criteria up through the end of the lifecycle of a product/technology credential, as typically occurs. "There's a smooth transition from what we were doing before to this, in that at some point in time we do require our partners to have the latest certification as new products roll in and new certification programs are introduced," he said.

What that means is that there's no set timeframe that partners must meet for getting the new certifications. The timeframes are associated with the validity of the individual product certifications, which typically follows the product lifecycle of two years. Under each new level of certification, there can be one or multiple product certifications that partners will have to achieve.

According to Flink, Citrix quietly rolled out the new certification program framework about two months ago. The Citrix Certified Professional Mobility certification, however, is new as of today.

Citrix is also rolling out SalesIQ, what the vendor calls a best-of-breed sales professional enablement platform, or portal, for partners and Citrix sales teams. The platform includes selling resources and content as well as collaboration tools across desktop and mobility platforms.


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