Wes Wasson: As Citrix, We Would Worry The Day People Stop Talking About Us

Wes Wasson, SVP of Strategy at Citrix, talks about the virtualization major's latest advancements towards building a solid enterprise mobility portfolio, its plans for the Indian market, and its steps to ensure being relevant in a tough market.

CW: You stepped down from a couple of roles earlier this year, but continue to head strategy for Citrix. What changes have happened in the last quarter and what is your focus now?

Wasson: We see that the end-user is now the decision-maker. My focus surrounds three areas. First is mobility, namely, mobile work-styles. We witness a number of changes in the IT world. So, while IT struggles to make sense of the phenomenon, we have--at our disposal--XenMobile, which is going to be the answer to some pieces of the puzzle. Second is cloud transformation. Citrix is building itself into a successful cloud player. The third area is XenDesktop. We want customers to derive the best of experiences we can offer.

CW: Experts believe Citrix has nailed its enterprise mobility strategy quite effectively. Is MDM the last piece, with the acquisition of Zenprise?

Wasson: Citrix is focused on apps data. For the first time, Citrix is now stepping into the device security domain, and MDM is certainly an important component. We are entering an era of managing information, and different organizations are figuring out the ways and means. Some customers say they adhere to "Do not own stuff," while some say they swear by "Do own information".

In this amalgam of developments, while we still believe that apps data is going to be critical, we are also aware that users have to be able to use all of that in a secure way. It has to be done in an elegant way. That's why MDM. .

CW: Where does CloudGateway fit into your enterprise mobility portfolio? What are your thoughts on some remarks that Citrix hasn't made optimal use of CloudGateway?

Wasson: What is true is we haven't fully announced all that we want to do with CloudGateway. We just wrapped up the MDM acquisition. We will be focusing on some important CloudGateway announcements at the Citrix Synergy 2013, Citrix's premier global IT conference, next month. So, essentially, it will be the apps, from our app store front, MDM, and CloudGateway--the three layers together to provide a single experience for customers. We are saving some of the big announcements for the event. You will get to hear from us soon.

CW: With VDI and mobility solutions being the thrust, it looks like Citrix has taken a strategic call to rest its server virtualization piece. So, is it adieu to XenServer?

Wasson: There are two important factors here while we talk about XenServer. One is XenServer's role as a tech ingredient. In the case of NetScaler, which is the fastest-growing business in Citrix, we took the team four years ago, and skilfully put it together with our XenServer team. Once you own it, you can innovate. Datacenters are going to see a whole host of things: Hyper-V, Xen etcetera. We fully know that virtualization at that level is about acceleration. So if customers have VMware or Microsoft, we tell them it isn't a problem and top it with XenDesktop or XenMobile. Therefore, at the enterprise datacenter, we are not really focusing on selling or pushing XenServer. Second, the big disconnect is that analysts and journalists spend time talking to CIOs and understand that XenServer is present here and there in the enterprise datacenter. For us, today, the major growth is in the cloud. And XenServer is essentially focused on cloud. Today, interestingly, 80 percent of the public cloud operates on XenServer. So, it's incorrect to say we are not focused on XenServer. It's just that conversations have changed in telling the customer to move beyond the commodity and look at areas that drive business value.

CW: Citrix was looking at buyers a few months ago and Cisco was reportedly a prospective buyer. Why did the rumour fizzle out?

Wasson:The Cisco rumor coincided with some strategic announcements we made in terms of partnerships with them. The goal was never acquisition. We can work well as partners. We believe our best opportunities are grown as an independent company. And I figure these rumors are bound to happen because we happen to be placed in a sweet spot right now. We are going to work with Cisco, but as two independent companies. As Citrix, we would worry the day people stop talking about us. The day we stop being relevant.

CW: Citrix has seen some interesting growth points in the Indian market over the last couple of years. Do you believe India has the highest growth potential in the APAC region?

Wasson: We are at the cusp of a new era. In terms of potential, yes, India does win. So, from a Citrix perspective, we would make our investment bets here for products, markets, and whatever it takes to deliver best-in-class. The development organization and the sales teams work closely to understand market dynamics. These are a combination of formal and informal processes that are at play--an interesting phase of collaboration.

CW: Citrix's partners have openly expressed that high BOMs due to licensing costs are going to make it tough for them to have any kind of dialogue with customers, and that it is the duty of players such as Citrix to sort out licensing and royalty issues across the table at a global level with Microsoft. What is your take on this?

Wasson: The biggest issue in licensing that customers talk about is in VDI, which is the biggest Windows client that runs on our server. As far as Microsoft is concerned, the simplest way to look at those environments is we tell customers that licensing is easy in our core products. XenApp technology can simulate a Windows Client Desktop. So, it is only in classic VDI, which is a sub-sect, where we will have to deal with licensing. It is in the way we deliver services to customers. The conversations change, since the BOM automatically changes in favour of the customer. It is a whole set of variables. Microsoft has various licensing models based on use cases. We try to work around it and give the best solution to the customer. Maybe in three years from now, licensing issues and discussions will become a relic of the past. It is a declining issue as it is. Partners are going to play a key role in driving the message.

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