Akamai and Citrix, two leaders in the Web application acceleration market, have announced a strategic partnership to leverage each other's sales channels and to collaborate on technology.
With its NetScaler appliance, Citrix is a leader in data-center-based application acceleration, while Akamai specializes in managed services with its Web Application Accelerator, which uses 34,000 Web servers in 1,500 global locations to optimise application performance in the Internet cloud.
"We have a lot of joint customers," said Citrix director of product marketing Craig Smith. "So our customers were asking us if the two leading vendors in this area can co-operate. Can you align your roadmaps so you can get even better performance and it's easier to deploy each of your solutions when done jointly?"
Kieran Taylor, Akamai director of product marketing, said the strategic partnership will begin with a "partner assistance program" and an online community for enterprises that are using both companies' products. The partner assistance program will establish a series of best practices for combining the companies' products into a single integration solution.
"We anticipate that as we begin to work more closely together, the collaboration will increase and we will be able to identify additional opportunities to improve performance and cost of ownership for our customers," Taylor said. "It's the first ever solution to look at complete end-to-end Web application delivery, from the data center to the cloud to end users."
Smith said the two companies will be collaborating in product development as well, but he declined to go into detail about how such collaboration would manifest itself.
"We've identified multiple areas where we can collaborate on product roadmaps and technology development," Smith said. "Because we don't have release dates tied to those developments, that's not part of this announcement. However, this doesn't end simply with a coordinated go-to-market and cooperation in the channel. It will extend into joint product and technology development."
Lucinda Borovick, research vice president for data center networks at IDC, said the announcement amounts to a channel bundle for now, giving the two companies the opportunity to leverage each other's channels for better distribution and easier deployment of their services.
"It's really about the channel helping implementations to be more streamlined," Borovick said. "Right now, they're done independently – cloud and data-center-based acceleration. And they're hoping that one isn't canceling the other out. The whole idea would be that -- based on information that [Akamai] is seeing in the cloud -- data center networking devices [using Citrix's NetScaler] can make better decisions. If I have a failure, should I route to a backup data center in Hong Kong or a backup data center in Amsterdam? The cloud would have the information on the best way to do that."
Akamai and Citrix's statements alluding to a future partnership on a product roadmap and technology level are promising, Borovick said.
"It's interesting. Do I think that there is an opportunity for these types of services to be combined in one offering? I do," she said. "Just look at AT&T or Verizon. That's what they're doing for their customers. The question is how much of their technology are these two companies going to share with each other. I have questions about that."
Borovick said this partnership was driven by the growing onslaught of online content and information being produced by Web applications, particularly Web 2.0 applications, which enterprises must be able to organize and filter.
Smith agreed: "We also see changes in the marketplace, specifically with adoption of Web 2.0 applications," he said. "With Web 2.0, you need alignment with application delivery as well as content management. You might have content or application services coming from different locations, not just your corporate data center. So that further blurs the line between how you can optimize delivery of Web applications in your data center and what can be done in the cloud. That blurry line compels tighter partnership and alignment between Akamai and Citrix.