When Zen is Spelled XEN

Sometimes it is just a feeling you get, and if you are lucky enough to get it, it permeates every atom of your being. Last week I got that feeling, though I must admit – just a tad of it was the awesome weather in the San Jose area. The rest of it came from being at a company that is really different than most because from the CEO down they couldn’t stop being just plain nice people. The company name might surprise you – Citrix – where I and several of my colleagues got a couple of days of up close and personal time with their top execs. It is always enjoyable to listen to people who are passionate, driven, and who can tell a story. Listening to Mark Templeton, Citrix CEO, was just like that. And it is much more than charisma – it is his love for all things technology related, his passion for his company’s mission, his belief in how they are changing the world. His presentation started with their company statement on creating value: Culture plus empathy, employee value plus customer value.

And the feeling didn’t stop with Mark--it was everyone from Citrix I met. And it wasn’t just about the people – I got to see their latest technology face to face, demonstrated live. Nothing like going into a demo center filled with OTHER COMPANIES' gear. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell, HP, Cisco, and so on. Citrix end point solutions demos were really stellar - because of the technology, the geek ambiance of the room, and the demo guru who was funny and excellent at his job. Seeing XenMobile, XenDesktop used on an iPad used as a Surface with full support for Microsoft gestures – you have to see it to believe it. Or moving from an Android tablet to a latop running Windows to an iPhone with the session moving from device to device seamlessly. And it doesn’t stop there – they continue to enhance their security and deep networking technology based on NetScaler as well. This was matched to their strategy of: Work is not a place, simpler is better, any-ness wins. XenDesktop and XenMobile provide an awesome end-user experience that goes way beyond the virtual desktops of yesterday.

Next we spent some time talking to their cloud folks. With CloudStack, Citrix has all the parts needed for the Service Provider and the Enterprise to successfully convert their virtualized data center to the cloud. You’d think they’d be myopically XenServer but they are definitely not. OpenStack, VMware, and Hyper-V environments can all be managed from one portal with their CloudPortal. CloudPortal comes with APIs and partners' connectors for a myriad of applications including ActiveState, Caringo, and CloudSoft, not to mention providing self-service capabilities. Since CloudPlatform also supports availability regions it is easy to see how regions can be used to segment workloads by department, location, tech stacks (e.g., hypervisor), or by business requirement like SLA or Trust (e.g., compliance regulations).

Citrix combines the ability to homogenize the disparate endpoints that come with BYOD strategies via their XenMobile and XenDesktop technology, and provision data center and cloud services on their CloudPlatform – making them one of the most complete and mature cloud ecosystems in the market. Citrix also offers a blend of open source and proprietary products allowing customers to do try-and-buy for specific use cases like test/dev and then commit to full support and licenses for mission-critical applications.

Like I said at the beginning – I’ve not met a nicer group of people who love what they do and where they work – and it shows in the products they offer as well. They have hundreds of service providers using their cloud products and I’m sure we’ll continue to see more interesting innovations from them and their partners as their cloud ecosystem matures with more ‘as-a-service’ offering built in as well as deeper integration in the Xen products. Now its time to go outside for some Zen time and go for a walk with my music and enjoy listening to Blue October as the fall weather sets in.

Topics: Cloud Services & Orchestration