Clint Newell and Ryan Parker at CNAG Courtesy of Clint Newell Auto Group
CTO Ryan Parker (right) discusses technology with car dealership president Clint Newell.

MSPs, VARs Remain Vital to Citrix Cloud Strategy, Vendor Says

Cloud and related technologies are shaking up the roles of traditional resellers and service providers but Citrix insists channel firms remain a vital part of its go-to-market approach. It’s revamping its partner incentives to make cloud more lucrative than on-prem.

There’s no doubt about it: Clint Newell Auto Group doesn’t rely on third-party IT services companies the way it once did.

When Ryan Parker took over as chief technology officer of the $60 million car dealership more than five years ago, the firm was running on-premise Citrix hardware, and paying a third-party IT consultant to handle break-fix, expanding of capacity and other architectural problems that arose.

Two years ago, they began moving more and more workloads to Microsoft Azure, as the on-premise hardware reached the end of its lifecycles.

These days, Parker and a full-time IT assistant use the subscription-based Citrix Cloud platform to monitor and manage the dealership’s hybrid infrastructure, with only occasional support from the Citrix Success Team.

“We were one of the early adopters of Citrix Cloud,” Parker said.

They hired a Citrix partner to help design the architecture and get it set up.

“We ripped all of the servers back to scratch,” he said. “It was one guy –  he came in and he set it all up for us. It was a couple of weeks and we were up and running.”

The project agreement called for the IT consultant to teach Parker how to run the network with in-house resources.

“I don’t want to rely on a (third-party),” the CTO says he told the consultant.

From setting up new virtual desktops to adding and monitoring virtual apps, the two-man team is able to fulfill virtually all of the dealership’s IT needs.

“If we run into an issue that we cannot physically fix by ourselves, we pick up the phone and file a ticket,” he said. “It goes to an escalation manager and they move forward with trying to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

“Most of the time, I don’t need Citrix to help me fix an issue.”

Self-serve IT management poses a strategic challenge for MSPs and VARs, many of which are still experimenting to find profitable business models around cloud.  

But while cloud and related technologies are shaking up the roles of traditional resellers and service providers, Citrix officials said VARs and MSPs will remain a vital part of their go-to-market approach.      

“There’s no doubt that were doing a little bit of stuff in Citrix Cloud that used to be done by VARs,” said Craig Stilwell, vice president of worldwide partner sales at Citrix. “But in the implementation, in the move, in the design; there’s still work to be done from the partner perspective.”

And, he added: “We’re not taking over everything.”

“There’s something important to understand about Citrix Cloud versus traditional cloud vendors,” Stilwell said. “What goes into Citrix Cloud is what we call the control plane – the handful of virtualized servers that control the overall Citrix Cloud.”

“The actual workloads can sit anywhere,” he explained. “They can sit on Oracle, Azure, on premise…Those workloads still need to be managed.”

Stilwell was unfamiliar with the specific circumstances at the Clint Newell dealership, but suspects that their move from a Citrix on premise network to Citrix Cloud might have made that setup less eventful.

More typically, he said, a brand-new deployment using Citrix Cloud takes just as much time as deploying to any public cloud.

“In terms of just standing an environment up, it’s pretty much the same,” Stilwell said. “We are still envisioning that channel partners are going to work with us to make those transitions.”

From patching and updating, to monitoring application compatibility and performance, many end users will still want to rely on trusted resellers and service providers, he expects.

Parker, of the Clint Newell car seller, agrees.

The dealership still uses IT services providers to manage their Cisco unified communication technology, the CTO said, citing the complexity of those tools.

Parker also doesn’t think many other vendors will want to incur the overhead of all of the additional resources he sees Citrix making available.

Still, Citrix recognizes that the evolution of Citrix Cloud is changing things for its partners and the company isn’t turning a deaf ear.

During this year’s Citrix Synergy user conference, the vendor announced it was revamping its partner incentive program from scratch.

The new program is expected to be rolled out at next year’s partner gathering.

“We’re busy working on this new program,” Stillwell said. “We did that with cloud in mind. Our old incentive program was not built with cloud in mind.

“We’re going to make the cloud more lucrative for these partners than on prem.”


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