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Q&A: Dye on Citrix vs. VMware, XenMobile features

How does Citrix's Brian Dye see his company withstanding pressure from VMware as it seeks new mobile innovations?

Citrix aims to stand out from the EMM crowd with its Workspace Suite while adding new functionality to XenMobile features and its suite of Worx productivity apps, amidst the ongoing Citrix vs. VMware battle for EUC supremacy.

SearchConsumerization recently spoke with Brian Dye, who was named Citrix's group vice president and general manager of its mobile platforms group in July, -- after over a decade at Symantec -- about how Citrix plans to improve its XenMobile platform, the importance of user experience and whether or not VMware is simply imitating Citrix's strategy.

There's been a significant maturation of the enterprise mobility management (EMM) market. How does Citrix keep delivering innovation?

Brian Dye: The most pleasantly surprising thing is the actual investment in both people and dollars on user experience (UX) as a function. [In] most organizations up and down the Valley, most of the enterprise-centric organizations, UX is a relatively small team. ... At Citrix, it's completely different. You've got a group of folks that really know user research, user behavior and know how to drive elegant designs and elegant workflows.

Brian DyeBrian Dye

Most of the players in the EMM market now have either something they have bought or something they have built with an email client, calendar, contacts, Web browser, things like that. On paper, if you just look at checking the boxes, it looks like the market has matured. However, when you actually look in and see how users are actually experiencing those things, what they do and what they can't, you'll find there are actually radical differences still.

Are there specific items that you would like to see addressed differently on Citrix's mobility products?

Dye: There are literally hundreds of things we can still do. … Number one is that relentless focus on the apps and the end-user experience. We just launched three new apps -- Worx Edit, Worx Notes and Worx Desktop -- that we think will really build out that collaboration flow.

The second piece is continuing to push integration across the portfolio. We've got a tremendous amount of integration with XenMobile, our NetScaler application delivery networking product, and ShareFile, our enterprise file sync and share product.

And the third one is -- and I don't think this one will ever go out of style -- lower [total cost of ownership], better time to value. We're going to continue to push very aggressively on making sure that you can stand up the solution as quickly and easily and as cost-effectively as possible.

Citrixand VMwareare among the companies offering all their end-user computing (EUC) products in one workspace suite. Is this catching on with customers?

Dye: We announced this at Synergy in May, and obviously we were copied by VMware shortly afterwards. Our initial deals have already closed on that, and we're already seeing customers be very interested. I think they are seeing the integration we have now, and they are hearing about the integration we are continuing to work on as well.

I haven’t seen anything from VMware that I'm looking to copy yet.
Brian DyeCitrix mobility group VP and GM

An example of that, that's going to provide a lot of value and really comes back to that focus on the end user and their workflow, is a project we talked about at Synergy called X1. … That's going to be tremendously valuable, because not needing to get the end user re-familiar with any new interface and have that be incredibly portable across the form factors they are using, is going to be yet another step forward in customers seeing this whole thing come together.

Has VMware done anything that will push Citrix to keep customers from jumping ship?

Dye: I haven't seen anything from VMware that I'm looking to copy yet. I think competition is great and it spurs everyone to do better. You're right, VMware has taken a big push into this market, and I think it's going to help everyone step up their game, and customers are going to win as a result.

That being said, it's easy to make claims, but you have to really deliver on those claims in order for customers to really get the value. While VMware has made some strides, they've still got a ways to go to catch up in a number of areas. … Making a post on Twitter and proving it to the customer are two different things, to be direct.

Users can be fickle when it comes to corporate applications. How do you create something they will want to use?

Dye: End users definitely have high standards, which is good, and they're not homogenous. One set of users wants X, and another wants Y. That's the challenge and where we bring that user experience team in to really make sure that we learn as much as we can, as granularly and detailed as we possibly can.

This is the area [where] we are hoping to make the biggest impact. It's easy to make everything hyper-secure. You lock things down to the point where end users can't do anything and they're super-frustrated. It's also easy to completely please your end users. You take away any security control that might get in their way, [and] who cares about the risk? Either of these two extremes are not what we're here to do. We want to hit the sweet spot in the middle.

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Is Citrix's strategy to focus on user experience a smart one?
I think it's always smart to make user experience your primary focus and a way to differentiate yourself from competitors. That's the thing that will keep customers happy and not looking elsewhere. 
I think it's already starting to pay off! Just a look at the accolades the company is already receiving on XenMobile