Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

SAN FRANCISCO: Citrix is looking to leverage its VARs and its relationship with Microsoft to cash in on one of the hottest emerging IT segments – desktop virtualization.

It’s a space that many VARs and CIOs are looking to as a potential money-saver as they look to reduce their administrative and management overhead at the same time they reduce the cost of upgrading their aging PC fleets.

No stranger to the channel, Citrix relies on its 8,200 partners for 85 percent of its annual revenues of more than $1.5 billion. The 21-year-old company is a small but well-established player in the virtualization and online services markets.

According to Gartner, less than 1 percent of PCs are deployed in a virtual or hosted environment but by 2013 – just three years – that number is expected to explode to 40 percent, representing a $65.7 billion dollar opportunity.

“I keep asking myself what’s missing,” says IDC’s Steve White, Research Director, Software Alliances Leadership Council, and Channels. “Why isn’t it absolutely flying out the door? I like what these guys do. They have very good technology, they have an engaged partner group, it’s almost cultish.”

And when you consider that the key message company management is delivering to its 1,200 partners at its annual channel event, Citrix Summit, is that Microsoft has embraced its virtualization technology and intends to marshal its forces to make this happen, it does sound too good to be true. Citrix executives say they’ve had a deep relationship with Microsoft for the last 20 years and they’re now poised for an even deeper and stronger relationship.

During his keynote, Al Monserrat, Senior VP, Global Sales & Services, called the expanded relationship with Microsoft a “game changer”. Citrix has 20 years of success of working with Microsoft, over 215,000 joint customers, 1 million servers and 100 million users. While he admitted that the relationship had sometimes been adversarial, that’s changed over the last six weeks with Microsoft’s March 18th announcement that Citrix was its preferred VDI partner.