Citrix Summit: Citrix partners to capture NetScaler opportunity in 2015

Citrix is trying to put NetScaler on the radar of pure-play networking partners with its Citrix Networking Elevate pilot program.

LAS VEGAS -- Citrix is trying to put NetScaler on the radar of pure-play networking partners with its Citrix Networking Elevate pilot program that includes Citrix NetScaler Test Drive, SearchITChannel learned here at Day 2 of Citrix Summit 2015.

Rafael Garzon, managing director for the Americas channel at Citrix, positioned NetScaler as a way for networking-centric partners to expand their networking business in 2015, using the application delivery controller (ADC) as a door-opener to additional customer sales, particularly XenMobile.

While Citrix NetScaler is a sophisticated ADC for mobile and cloud services, many in the pure-play networking channel haven't moved beyond selling NetScaler as a load balancer, according to the company. "The opportunity here is to help and enable these Citrix partners to better understand where the market is going and how applications play in the network," said Graham Melville, senior director of product marketing for cloud networking at Citrix.

That's where the Elevate pilot program comes into play.

For the past three months, about five U.S.-based Citrix partners with networking in their DNA have been involved in the Elevate pilot program. Partners are offered about a half-dozen classes to get up to speed on the broad customer sales opportunity for NetScaler, which then leads to the Citrix NetScaler Test Drive, a combination of structured education and hands-on experience for customers to "test drive" NetScaler.

Citrix partnered with Firefly to deliver the two-day training event.  Citrix, with Firefly, ran similar test drives in Europe in 2014 for its regional sales teams and distributors. The U.S. is the first launch of the pilot program for partners.

The test drives are aimed at customer decision makers who are already in the process of looking for ADCs for a project and are serious about making a purchase, according to Melville. The test drive, a lab environment, has 12 spaces for technology and decision makers to kick the tires, i.e. learn what the product does and participate in a targeted hands-on experience.

For Citrix partners, the test drives relieve them from having to do a proof of concept or having the required dedicated resources to fully understand everything that the ADC does.  The goal of the program is to accelerate the sales cycle, increase deal sizes and win business.

Citrix Netscaler Test Drive

Garzon said he wants to offer this type of program to all Citrix partners. While the details around who foots the bill for the two-day training is decided, eligibility for the program will require that partners bring to the table five to 10 customers who are serious about making a Citrix purchase.

IT solutions provider Presidio, Citrix North American Partner of the Year, was one of the initial Citrix partners in the Elevate pilot program. The partner had many NetScaler opportunities on the table when it was approached by Garzon to participate in the program, according to Jay Gilchrist, sales manager with the virtualization practice at Presidio. The partner also had a number of recently closed NetScaler sales.

"I said that we were absolutely interested and would reach out to our customers and see if they were interested in the Citrix NetScaler Test Drive," he said.

An email blast that described the NetScaler test drive concept was sent to potential customers  and it received an immediate response, particularly from customers who were evaluating a load balancing and secure remote access type of product and who wanted to send multiple people to the two-day training event.

"It worked out great because the customers who came to the event saw the ease of the administration of the NetScaler and one account in particular had already owned a competitive product for three years. However, there was big turnover in this customer's IT staff, but the new IT manager had some familiarity with NetScaler and wanted to get his team exposed to the product and how you administer it. His team was sold on it after they came to the two-day training," said Gilchrist.

The customer, a healthcare provider with about 1,500 employees, got rid of the competitor's product and bought new NetScalers. They also had an interest in a mobile device management product for the 200 iPads that were issued to clinicians for an electronic medical records (EMR) product deployed as an app on mobile devices. "They wanted to secure the app on the iPads, so they did that with XenMobile," he noted, adding that the XenMobile and NetScaler sale pulls together nicely.

For a sizable partner like Presidio, the attraction of the NetScaler Test Drive program was that it provided customers with in-depth exposure to the product in an environment without distractions, something that even a company like Presidio would be hard pressed to obtain.

"The value of the program and the test drive was getting our customers right in front of a NetScaler and configuring it to do a certain thing, such as configuring to load balance Exchange, [and] configuring it so that our customer were able to see how easy it was to do that and how easy it would be to fail over to another appliance and access Exchange," said Gilchrist.

Presidio had 18 individuals from multiple customers attend the two-day training, something that would be difficult for them achieve on their own. "We also were able to get in front of all these customers at the same time and talk about our Citrix practice and our facilities and resources," he noted.

On the flip side, the program gave Presidio a better understanding of their customers' critical applications, why they need NetScaler and where the partner can continue to add value.

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