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Citrix partners play role in vendor's cloud push

Citrix’s continuing transition into the cloud business is getting a reinforcing push from Citrix partners, with newcomers playing a role.

The company transacted business with more than 6,100 partners in 2018, 900 of which were first-time Citrix partners. That’s about 15% of the transaction volume. Among the new partners are many born-in-the-cloud partners and channel companies that have built a solid business moving customers’ workloads from on-premises systems to the cloud — with Microsoft Azure the typical target, noted Craig Stilwell, vice president of worldwide partner sales at Citrix.

“A lot of those [partners] have a strong Microsoft skillset,” he said.

Stilwell said the Microsoft skillset translates well into Citrix technology. Indeed, Citrix and Microsoft have a long-standing technology alliance. That alliance has multiple threads including the ability to offer customers virtual desktop infrastructure with Citrix Cloud services on Microsoft Azure. Citrix Cloud is a platform that lets organizations create digital workspaces for users from a single console.

While Citrix and Microsoft offer technology integration, the companies also aim to coordinate channels as well. Citrix Solution Advisors and Microsoft service providers, for instance, can tap the Azure Marketplace to sell a combined offering consisting of Citrix Workspace, Microsoft 365 licensing and Azure cloud capacity. To further underscore the channel partnering point, Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president, One Commercial Partner Organization, at Microsoft, was on stage at Citrix Partner Summit 2019 to talk about the companies’ collaboration.

Beyond virtualization

Citrix, meanwhile, set the channel groundwork for the cloud direction in 2018, revamping its partner program with subscription revenue and Citrix Cloud in mind. At Citrix Partner Summit 2019, held in January, the cloud focus continued as an important theme. Stilwell said products such as Citrix Workspace, which is powered via Citrix Cloud, will dramatically expand the addressable market for Citrix technology. Citrix’s traditional desktop and application virtualization products meet about 30% of a customer’s desktop computing needs. But with Citrix’s cloud-based offerings, the other 70% is in now in play.

“This is the year we really go beyond virtualization,” Stilwell said.

Cloud and subscription-based revenue are already making an impact at Citrix. The company’s SaaS business grew more than 200% in 2018. Another data point: The Citrix Service Provider business crossed 1.7 million active-user-per-month threshold at end of the 2018. Citrix Service Provider companies, a partner program subset, offer desktop as a service, application hosting and other subscription-based technologies.

“The service provider business is mostly a subscription consumption business,” Stilwell said, noting that business is growing 33% year over year.

To support its cloud and subscription momentum, Citrix has tweaked its rebate program to reward Citrix partners that get customers up and running on Citrix Cloud as quickly as possible. The idea is to focus on customer adoption and cloud consumption.

Citrix, Stilwell said, has moved “some incentives away from on-premises, perpetual maintenance renewals and shifted that toward driving real adoption, real usage of Citrix Cloud.” 

Citrix partners span enterprises, SMBs

Citrix’s ‘beyond virtualization’ initiative is getting a lift from a range of partner types. At one end of the spectrum, large global systems integrators are helping Citrix land projects. DXC Technology, for example, is teaming with Citrix at Saab on a digital workspace project that relies on Citrix Workspace as a key component.

“We’ll … continue to work more and more with large global systems integrator companies like DXC,” Stilwell said. “However, that doesn’t mean we are going away from the regional systems integrators and regional partners that we work with.”

Indeed, while the global integrators bring in large-scale projects with enterprises such as Saab, Citrix Service Provider companies will focus more on small and medium-sized businesses.

“We will continue to expand on both fronts,” Stilwell said.

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