Citrix seeks cloud savvy partners

Craig Stilwell, Citrix

Citrix is rejigging its partner programme; here's what to expect.

Craig Stilwell has been with Citrix for 17 years, and tells me ‘it feels like I was born here’.

Stilwell, vice president, worldwide partner strategy and sales, says 98% of all its transactions flow through partners of one kind or another.

“We’re going to continue to be very partner led. We have a very strong channel of about 8 000 partners worldwide,” he says, adding Citrix was revamping its entire channel incentive programme.

“We’re starting off with a blank sheet of paper. In today’s transactional programmes we have five different partner incentive programmes, and each one totally makes sense. But when you stack the five of them on top of one another, some of them are stepping on each other.”

Keeping cloud in mind

“So we’re going simpler, and in addition, our programmes were not built with cloud in mind. Specifically, we want to be able to award for things like usage. When usage happens, there’s no transaction, no money changes hands. Our cloud model is largely a subscription model, so you subscribe and get up and running and hopefully you’re driving good usage, which will ultimately lead to a renewal, and happier customers.”

Stilwell says Citrix have only been in the cloud for a year, and if he spoke to core Citrix partners, ‘they’ve grown up with us, they understand the programmes and maybe they even use them to their advantage because of their complexity, but if you go one click down to people who do a handful of transactions a year, it’s really difficult for a rep to understand how much money they’re making’.

He says streamlining the partner programme is his number one priority, and he’s planning on rolling it out in January 2018 at its summit event in Orlando.

He was also looking for partners which were more cloud savvy, and had better capabilities around managed services.

“For us in the cloud, managed services are going to be a big deal. The actual workloads - the virtualised apps and desktops - need to live somewhere else. It could be Azure, it could be on-premises, and somebody needs to take care of those workloads and do the implementation and long-term managed service work. And if a customer is interested in going to the cloud it’s a fair bet they want to own less stuff and manage less stuff. And that creates an opportunity for the partner to do that.”

Stilwell says distribution in southern Africa was massively important for the company, because it didn’t have the manpower to help enable and recruit partners, support them and get them up to speed.

“We rely heavily on distribution to do that. One of the opportunities is to line up the incentives in distribution with what we’re really expecting to get out of them. We’ve been tweaking that along the way, to make sure that what they’re doing for us works for us, and works for them.”

Stepping into Africa

The company announced this week it was increasing its footprint in Africa, and its channel in East and West Africa would now be managed and supported by Citrix South Africa.

A key part of this initiative is the appointment of Drive Control Corporation as a second distributor in Southern Africa and will focus on providing software-defined networking solutions. The company’s other key distributor in Southern Africa, Axiz, will also expand its reach to include East Africa.

Crawl, walk, run

Stilwell says there’s no doubt that cloud was the future for Citrix.

“Last year we talked about crawl, walk, run. So this year we’re walking, and we set some goals for ourselves about where we wanted to be, and we’re double where we wanted to be. It’s still a very small piece of the revenue, and we’re still building up. The demand is there and customers are already moving to the cloud anyway. What’s really helpful for us is that Microsoft is pushing all the workloads it can into Azure. So they’re spending a lot of energy in the channel, and we’re able to ride behind that. They’re a great partner of ours, and have been since the very beginning.”

Stilwell says Citrix is also going to continue to be building products aimed at security.

“Citrix, but nature, has always had a security angle. If I take all your stuff off the desktop and put in the data centre, you’ve got to be able to lock it down better. But we’ve never been first and foremost a security company. But the big trends in the marketplace are security and cloud, and we’re going to react to that.”