As with most relationships, the alliance between Microsoft and Citrix is complicated. The two companies have a partnership that extends back for decades. When a customer wants to deploy a thin client using some form of desktop virtualization, Microsoft almost always points them in the direction of Citrix. But in recent years, the companies have not always seen eye to eye when it came to mobile computing.
At the Citrix Synergy 2016 conference, the two companies moved to put that friction behind them. As part of a broad-ranging extension of their existing alliance, Citrix has agreed to host an instance of its virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) on the Microsoft Azure cloud to make it possible to access Windows 10 applications and has pledged to integrate Citrix XenMobile software and the Citrix NetScaler application delivery controller with the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) of tools for managing mobile applications.
The two companies also revealed that they are working on integrating the Citrix ShareFile cloud service with Microsoft Office 365 in a way that will enable end users to edit Microsoft Office documents from ShareFile.
Brad Anderson, corporate vice president for enterprise and client mobility at Microsoft, told attendees that Microsoft Azure is now the largest managed application ecosystem in the industry. As such, Citrix provides a way for IT organizations to remotely access those applications securely using any device. Microsoft has already signed up 27,000 customers for EMS, making it the largest mobile computing management platform in the market despite Microsoft’s late entrance in the category, Anderson said.
At the same time, Citrix is committed to making it less complex to implement its products and services; this effort is part of an evolving workspace-as-a-service (WaaS) strategy, said Bill Burley, vice president and general manager for Citrix Workspace Services.
As part of the effort, Citrix will be making available “cookbooks” that solution providers can leverage to create custom workflows that can be applied across a broad range of vertical industry segments, said Kimberly Martin, Citrix vice president of worldwide partner sales and strategy.
In addition, solution providers should be paying attention to the machine-to-machine networking platform Citrix gained when it acquired Octoblu in late 2014. That platform is at the core of a broad range of Citrix research and development projects spanning everything from next-generation cloud applications to the Internet of things.
For solution providers such as Patterson & Associates Consulting, a tighter alliance between Citrix and Microsoft is good news on multiple levels. Patterson & Associates CEO Craig Patterson is looking forward to advances in the solutions the company can provide to customers. It also makes it possible for Patterson & Associates to manage the company’s relationship with Microsoft via its participation in a Citrix channel program that is less complicated to navigate, he said.
Citrix is in a transition period as it tries to reinvent itself for a new age of computing that is advancing rapidly. A big part of that strategy not only includes Microsoft but also a broad range of technologies that Citrix plans to deploy inside and outside the cloud to make it possible for solution providers to create solutions around workflows that will bring them closer to their customers than ever.
Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for more than 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.