Templeton talks access awareness

Citrix Systems Inc. President and CEO Mark Templeton took time out from the access technologies company’s annual iForum user conference in Las Vegas this month to speak with ComputerWorld Canada senior writer Jeff Jedras about Citrix’s recent acquisitions, its vision for access and an expanding Microsoft.

You’ve made a number of acquisitions over the past few years. How did you see the company before then, and what is the vision you have for the company now that the acquisitions are complete?

We’ve always been a company that’s in the access area. Remote access was what we were all about. We’ve dropped the word remote along the way, but I think we still felt we had a limited view of what access was about until three or four years ago when we said, ‘What we really want to do is take the stack of technologies that are in use during an access session and try to touch as many access sessions as we possibly can.’ It gets down to providing single sign-on, as well as hosting a virtual display, and creating an encrypted connection. If you think of it that way, you can see how it all makes sense. The benefit is we can take a technology and touch a customer, first on single sign-on, and then bring them an SSL-encrypted connection, or a virtual display or optimized Web connection. It gives us multiple entry points to meet a customer’s needs.

You spoke in your keynote about the need for people to take a holistic view of access. What did you mean by that?

Companies have a security strategy, they have a networking strategy, they have a desktop strategy, but [many don’t] have an access strategy. You’ve got all these strategies but the most important one (access), you’re accepting in a default mode. I ask companies to consider how much of their IT budget they’re spending in the data centre and how much from the door of the data centre to the user, where access is. I call it the first mile because, without it, the data centre is useless, because you can’t access it.

If you look at the cost and the value of the first mile, it is the most costly, most valuable and least controlled, and you don’t have a strategy for it. An access strategy is around how you provide a really high performance, agile, flexible and secure first mile.

During your keynote you also spoke about Citrix’s longstanding partnership with Microsoft, but are you concerned they’re beginning to move into your territory with some of their new products and services?

Our partnership with Microsoft has as a built-in assumption that Microsoft is going to build the operating system for providing general services in lots of areas like file services, print services and Web services, as well as terminal services. What we’ve done is continue to innovate, to embrace Microsoft’s technologies around terminal services, and leverage those into presentation services and application virtualization. That’s what Project Constellation is all about. It’s like any platform ecosystem. The platform gets more and more robust over time, and that enables value-added solutions that are built on top to become more and more robust. It’s just whether or not the third parties have the ability to innovate fast enough and take those innovations to market successfully. So far we’ve been blessed in our ability to do that, and that’s the game plan going forward.

Is there an overarching theme you want to send your users home from the show with?

It’s around being the brand you’ll turn to when you have a challenge on that first mile, providing secure, high performance and cost-efficient access. That is the thread running through it.

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