Citrix and Microsoft are not strangers to one another. On the contrary — they’ve been successfully working together for the past 10+ years. In fact, Citrix has been one of the few companies that’s been able to dance with what many technology companies consider to be the “black widow.” But the light has been dimming between the two companies in the past few years as Citrix has experienced some rocky times, and Microsoft has enriched a competing portfolio.
As of late though, things have changed and the partnership is now reignited with recent announcements at Citrix Synergy 2016. You can read the press release and Brad Anderson’s blog to get the details, but there are a few important dynamics that stand out:
- Citrix and Microsoft need each other in the near-term to drive mobility, deliver workspaces, and appeal to enterprise-size implementations travelling in the fast lane and headed towards cloud delivery services. Citrix has the DNA and long-term experience with some of the largest and most sophisticated application, desktop, and data delivery deployments. Microsoft needs to leverage this experience, and needs the Citrix technology to host and manage desktops, apps, and data in Azure.
- It’s a platform race. Microsoft has more to lose (or win), depending on your point of view. Microsoft’s ultimate goal is to win platforms that include Windows 10, Office365, and Azure. Citrix can help drive companies towards each of these platforms and, in theory, provide a better experience for the end-user.
- Citrix and Microsoft can more effectively compete in the market by working together—as opposed to taking turns “at the plate.” Citrix needs to drive businesses outside of its existing loyal customer base, and needs the marketing and go-to-market machine of Microsoft to help accelerate growth. On the flip side, Microsoft improves its potential success against the competition with the completeness of a strategy including Citrix NetScaler (an underestimated piece of the puzzle) and the ability to host Windows (including Win10) desktops at scale where delivery-protocol choice still matters.
The Citrix and Microsoft partnership is invaluable for both companies—and one has to believe that part of the handshake between the two is to quickly get value-added resellers jazzed. I would expect them to use the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) as a forum to set the wheels in motion. This is a significant checkmark for Microsoft to fill in, and help go-to-market partners drive revenue.
On paper, this partnership looks good for businesses. However, the true measurement of their success will be how quickly these two can demonstrate the value of the partnership to customers. I, for one, will be watching to see how they communicate to partners at WPC, and publicly share customer success stories before the end of the summer. And, establishing quick momentum to fill a Q3 and Q4 sales pipeline will be important to monitor.