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March 25, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic created a significant increase in demand for Citrix Cloud and the company’s virtual desktops and apps. As customers embrace more hybrid workplace norms, the company is focusing partner enablement on cloud migration, and Citrix Workspace apps.
Citrix is emphasizing to partners that growth will come from its shift to cloud and software as a service (SaaS). In addition to extending desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) offerings from AWS and Microsoft, the company is enhancing its “intelligent” workspace.
As Citrix seeks expands its cloud-native microapps, the company recently announced it will acquire Wrike for nearly $2.3 billion. The deal for Wrike, which provides a SaaS-based work management solution, closed earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Citrix last fall took a key step toward putting its customers and partners into a SaaS and DaaS mindset. As of Oct. 1, the company stopped offering perpetual licenses for on-premises software, moving to subscription pricing.
Citrix channel chief Bronwyn Hastings discussed that shift with Channel Futures, along with the planned Wrike acquisition and SaaS marketplaces. We also asked her where Citrix stands with selling directly to customers.
Channel Futures: What is your core message to partners for 2021?
Citrix’s Bronwyn Hastings
Bronwyn Hastings: The theme is not about launching a large, massive new program. It is about how we are evolving the current program with the constant voice of the partner in that process, making sure that we’re being agile. And we want it to be a SaaS model approach. We told them that it’s the North Star of the vision. Workspace with intelligence remains No. 1 in that journey. And we need to move our 400,000 customers from on-premises.
In October, we end-of-life’d our perpetual environment. But we want to do that with value and unique offerings that the customers are seeing, which means it’s a very particular partner play. As we move customers, we’re looking for where the value is that the partners are bringing in that motion, and to bring value to the customer’s journey as they move. We asked the partners to move from infrastructure into what we’re calling wall-to-wall use cases.
CF: What does that mean?
BH: Perhaps you’re bringing the value to the contact center, but it’s also underpinned with the things that are very solid from our technology that we’ve been with for a long time. We went to all of our sellers and we’ve started to help them understand how to sell a contact center [improvement] approach versus only a product approach. We brought our partners in and took them through the same sales approach.
CF: Are there new expectations or requirements that go with this?
BH: We’re enabling the channel to step into workspace with intelligence, because we had already started the normal programmatic things you do with enablement, certifications and …
… all of those sorts of things. We’re helping them define the new markets that are available to derive revenue from. We’re building a more solutioning and servicing envelope around this. And we’re doing that by having our customer success teams work with them and by bringing out these sales plays. The layer we are adding on, is we’re asking them to align to some of our solution approaches and teaching them how to get into the solution areas.
CF: Have many partners have already started going down this road?
BH: When I polled the partner base, a third of them are quite far down the journey now. They’ve seen the opportunity, they have started building out other managed services, or solutioning from a very particular industry, or horizontal points of view. A third of them have started and a third of them are trying to work out what to do because it’s very much a hybrid multicloud world. The original business is still there, but what we’re asking of them is to really pivot into some of these solution approaches as well.
CF: For those partners that this approach is new, how are you helping them make this shift?
BH: When we’re planning with them, we’re looking for ways that we can either help them – I’d say ideate – or think of unique ways to bring the value of workspace to the fore. And then we’re sharing and explaining how they could build on top of it. It’s really a platform approach. We’re sharing the platform capabilities, we’re sharing some of the industry views or trends that we’ve seen, and then we’re helping them build other use cases or business approaches that actually play to their strengths.
CF: How does the acquisition of Wrike fit into this?
BH: Wrike will allow us to add to that managing how people work. It’s an expanded opportunity to define these use cases.
CF: Do you have a sense how many partners are familiar with the Wrike platform?
BH: It’s an expansion opportunity for them.
CF: Does Wrike have a partner program?
BH: I can’t go too deep on this, but they do have their own born in the cloud channel, which is a big positive for the cloud options of having a cloud-first approach as well.
CF: Some partners have been saying that Citrix has been taking some more deals direct lately. Has their been a change in approach?
BH: It’s not about taking more deals direct, it’s about how we actually have an aligned motion that makes sure that our partners are engaged in those motions in the right way. So there’s no change in direction. Partners continue to be a substantive part of our approach. And as we move to the cloud, we will need partners more and more over the life cycle of the entire customer engagement.
CF: That said, what in what instances are you taking deals direct that maybe you didn’t before?
BH: We’re not taking deals [direct] where we didn’t before. Obviously, customers have a choice. And some of them have chosen to go direct. What we’ve been trying to do is to continue to lead with a channel that brings value and make sure that it’s clear where we’re driving together on that. Obviously, in some instances, customers do choose to go direct, but we really are supporting our channel motion, and being clear about our engagements and how we drive that.
CF: What is different now?
BH: We do have segments where we say we want the channel to be the primary motion. In other segments, we’re saying we want to co-work, and we want to be clear about the roles we play in driving that. I think that’s the feedback that you’re getting, but perhaps it’s not always consistently communicated when we’re engaging in that way. We also had some differences between some of the geographies. We’re trying to make a partner strategy with …
… consistency across these geographies so that the partners know how to engage and the way that we’re going to do that.
CF: How are partners supposed to engage on deals that you’re taking direct?
BH: In deals that are direct, we can still have a co-sell motion. And to be honest, a lot of the partners are still doing the services associated with those deals. It’s very important that we plan together for those deals. And we know over the life cycle of the of the customer that the partner is still engaged in the services that are associated or the value that’s owed to them.
CF: In those instances, what is the process for determining who those partners will be?
BH: The customer is always at the center of that determination. And when we are doing things like a particular initiative, obviously, we’re going to have partners that are key to those initiatives that are engaged early in those processes. But the customer does need to make that choice of partner in that process. I would prefer early-planned, early-targeted, proactive engagement with a clear place that the partner will play during that entire process.
CF: What is the role of app marketplaces? As you move to more of a SaaS model, and how is that affecting traditional partners?
BH: We all know that marketplaces are playing a substantial role with within the market and with customers. What we’re finding is that the marketplaces are actually not disrupting partner channels. The multiple marketplaces that exist are almost always looking at, how do you keep the channels in a more comprehensive way, working across marketplaces and channels for value. What I’m finding is, whilst there was some noise in the beginning about the marketplace, what we are finding is that it is becoming complementary. And between us and different suppliers and marketplaces, we’re looking at how these things interact, where does the partner play a role if a customer buys from the marketplace. And it’s quite interesting, because it’s actually expanding.
CF: How is that causing them to work together?
BH: What you’re finding is that there are incentives being placed in the channel from different players to actually make this work together, and to do handoffs of leads to allow them to actually still play a role in servicing the customer. Otherwise, it could take away the core of the value of servicing customers. So, in fact, they’re actually interacting at this point in time. And it’s very interesting to watch.
CF: Is there a mechanism that’s causing that interaction now?
BH: I think it’s a combination of a lot of connectivity and automation between all of these things, and incentives and programs that players are putting in place to support it happening. It’s conscious connection, so that we don’t lose the value of the different coverage models of the market. So the customer truly has a choice of where they buy. And that’s the main point, that we’re trying to keep those connections happening for the customer if you put the customer at the center.
Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.
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