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Citrix’s annual gathering of channel partners, Citrix Summit 2017, which took place last week, highlighted how far the vendor has appeared to come in 12 months.
At the same event last year, the firm announced a new ‘back-to-basics’ strategy after admitting it had had allowed itself to become “distracted” by a product portfolio that had grown exponentially in recent years. Citrix decided to offload a host of products to focus on core offerings such as its NetScaler application delivery controller (ADC), XenServer and Citrix Workspace Cloud.
The move appears to be paying off; at the event in Anaheim, California, Citrix sales chief Carlos Sartorius announced a host of new customer wins and the expansion of its footprint within its existing customer base.
He said the vendor had picked up 4,476 net new customers in 2016, generating $82m in additional revenue. Out of these, 995 were new cloud customers, with Citrix claiming wins over VMware and F5 Networks.
Citing five quarters of growth, Sartorius said Citrix went “back to those things we can do well.”
Citrix was also hard at work in 2016 improving its engagement with partners, which has yielded results or the firm, with a 12-point jump in the vendor’s annual channel loyalty survey.
Elsewhere there was a 73% percent jump in partner specialisations, and a 30% increase in net new customers from partners in EMEA in 2016, despite Citrix waving off more than 650 inactive partners across the region.
Luca Marinelli, Citrix’s VP of partner sales for EMEA, attributed the upturn in channel sales to the vendor’s efforts to strengthen its dealings with the channel, which included the launch of the Net New Partner Sourced programme in May 2016, which increased compensation for partners that identified and qualified new opportunities, especially in the midmarket.
The vendor also introduced a Strategic Development Fund (SDF) for partners, which replaced Citrix’s MDF funding, as well as made it easier for partners to receive Citrix Advisor Rewards (CAR).
Citrix’s channel organisation also received a shot in the arm with the recent appointment of new partner lead, Craig Stilwell. The exec took to the stage at Citrix Summit with a promise that he would make it easier for partners to do business with the vendor. After listening to partner feedback, he said the first thing he was going to do was looking at scaling back the number of programmes and processes to which they must adhere.
He vowed to come up with “a simpler, more elegant and profitable programme” by Citrix Summit 2018.
Warning to competitors
Which leads us to wonder what else does Citrix have on the agenda in 2017? CEO Kirill Tatarinov (pictured) outlined several key areas of focus, including networking, SD WAN and its File, Sync and Share offering, ShareFile. He also announced Citrix had filled a gap in its portfolio with the acquisition of application layering vendor, Unidesk.
One of his main messages though, involved pushing home Citrix’s close relationship with Microsoft, which includes application and desktop virtualisation in the cloud, network delivery and enterprise mobility management.
“Microsoft opens up tremendous opportunities for all of us,” said Tatarinov. “The relationship was very strategic to both companies in 2016 and we will take it to the next level in 2017.”
The second was cloud, with several execs repeating the mantra that 2017 would be the year Citrix “walks in the cloud”. Stilwell provided details of the Citrix Cloud Accelerator Programme, which encourages partners to move their customers to the cloud by offering more incentives, either through renewal or selling new licences.
Tatarinov issued a warning to Citrix’s competitors, too: “We absolutely reinforce our leadership position in virtual client computing, VDI and enterprise mobility management and we are going to beat VMware,” he told partners. “We are seeing share coming back to where it belongs.”
“We will advance our leadership in gateway, ADC and SD WAN and there’s only one remaining competitors there and we’re absolutely going to beat F5.”
The CEO also impressed upon partners the urgency of selling the entire Citrix suite: “Perhaps if one thing missing in the past, is that the Citrix story has not been told with force and precision. You need to get trained to tell the Citrix story.”
UK partners in attendance seemed quietly impressed with the turnaround, although it remains to be seen whether 2017 will see them sell Citrix with the passion demanded by Tatarinov.