View from the airport: Citrix Synergy 2018

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

14 May, 2018

In the early hours of last Tuesday morning, shortly before the opening keynote of Citrix Synergy 2018, we experienced a magnitude 4.5 earthquake along the San Andreas fault zone – rattling swathes of Southern California, from San Diego to Santa Clarita.

Taking to the stage later that morning, Citrix CEO David Henshall outlined his company’s new theory of ‘people-centric computing’ – essentially an aim to provide a dramatically better user experience – and experts believe the vendor might now have what it takes to send some seismic waves of its own through the industry.

“For the first time in a while, the company has all the strategic, product, and organisational building blocks in place to execute in the marketplace,” Andrew Hewitt, Forrester’s analyst for infrastructure and operations, told Cloud Pro. “Today’s leading organisations are constantly looking for a way to simplify and improve employee experience with technology, and Citrix is well-positioned to do that.”

The overarching message the company was keen to push was its vision of the ‘future of work’. This, at first glance, seems an impressive statement, but for the fact that all its flagship rollouts at Citrix Synergy had existed, or been teased, in some form as far back as 2014; with the Workspace App, for instance, serving as the final manifestation of the company’s vision for a unified digital workspace that it has outlined in many iterations over the years.

Hewitt said Citrix needs to focus on messaging here though, differetiating its service from rival ones. He said: “For one, it needs to better delineate how its product is different from VMware’s Workspace One product, such as its inclusion of ShareFile and its strong support for MAM-only deployments.”

He added: “Citrix will need to clearly define why products like Secure Mail and Secure Hub offer a better experience than the native solutions if they want to keep moving in that direction.”

Security also featured prominently with the rollout of Citrix Analytics, a machine learning-powered tool that aims to build profiles for individual users to mitigate the threat of human error – a cyber threat echoed by many figures over the course of the week, including former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.

Hewitt noted that the product is very focused on security use cases, but that “there are doubts on how valuable those analytics will be across varied vendor ecosystems that many customers have today”.

The conference, overall, was received well, with customers and partners pleased in general with what Citrix had delivered. But for all the emphasis the company put on the ‘future of work’, Synergy 2018 was ironically lacking in any sense of futurescaping that I had been expecting.

Seeing some kind of projection for how the future of work may look in, say, five years’ time, would have complemented an all-in-all successful conference, as Citrix positions itself strongly in the market.