Citrix quietly announced that it has acquired Norskale, a French-based startup with a proven track record of optimizing workspace performance, accelerating application delivery, and enhancing environment scalability. The company has operated throughout the European, Asia-Pacific and Americas markets by providing a full-featured workspace and user environment management solution. With more than 100 customers worldwide and enterprise deployments reaching up to 80,000 seats, Norskale brings a welcomed amount of performance and scalability value to the Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop application and desktop virtualization solutions.
Demand for business mobility by end-users is creating far-reaching implications for how mission-critical applications are being delivered. These businesses are increasingly searching for solutions that help simplify the management of end-users as they move from desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones due to the complexity of managing these assets in silos.
But in the last couple of years, Citrix has fallen behind in this area. The company, which was once a market leader in this space, seemed to find itself playing catch up with competitors like VMware who in February of 2015 acquired Immidio to beat Citrix to the punch by offering its own Workspace Environment Management (WEM) solution. With that acquisition, VMware gained a strong UEM solution which they have been integrating more and more into their existing product lines.
Now, with this acquisition by Citrix, the market for User Environment Management once again shifts; and Citrix can now add a few more important checkboxes to a growing feature comparison matrix that compares themselves with other vendors in this market.
"This was a necessary move for Citrix," said Jason E. Smith, Vice President of Product Marketing at Liquidware Labs. "After VMware raised the bar about 18 months ago with its acquisition of Immidio for VMware UEM, Citrix lacked policy management in comparison."
Going back to 2008, Citrix acquired the source code for what became User Profile Management (UPM) from Sepago. In those days, Citrix provided customers with built-in profile management capabilities. Their user profile management (UPM) technology was enhanced over the years to provide a profile optimization service that enabled IT to maintain a single user profile that followed the user as the user roamed between physical and virtual devices. It was also enhanced to prevent profile bloat, a common cause of extensive logon times as more user preferences and information became stored in the profile. However, much has changed with technology, applications, and user requirements in recent years; and limited enhancements to UPM has caused Citrix to fall further behind.
But the user profile is only one component in the overall user environment. To optimize the workspace environment, you need a management solution that dynamically assembles a virtual workspace based on the ideal combination of user profiles, personalization, application settings, system policies, and system resource consumption. And that's where Norskale's workspace environment management solution comes into play. It complements the existing profile management technology already owned by Citrix, and the addition will help them to deliver a better workspace performance, desktop logon and application response time for a more dynamic virtual workspace.
"Norskale has a holistic view of the workspace that includes the user, application, desktop and underlying system resources," said Bill Burley, Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Workspace Services at Citrix. "Norskale leverages patent-pending machine-learning technology to monitor and analyze user and application behavior in real-time. Only Norskale has the ability to intelligently adjust the way applications utilize systems resources such as RAM, CPU and Input/Output (I/O) to optimize resource allocation across all users. This algorithm intelligence, now unique to Citrix, ensures that each user has the necessary resources to be productive while conserving overall resource allocation in a way that instantly increases server scalability by up to 70 percent, dramatically increasing your ROI."
This latest acquisition is yet another in a series of moves by Citrix to meet market demands. According to Smith, Citrix has been assembling tools over the years from Sepago for UPM, RingCube for PvD and AppDisk and Norskale for policy management to form basic UEM capabilities. But will this latest acquisition be enough to fully round out their offering for customers?
Smith doesn't necessarily think so. While he believes this was a nice add for Citrix, it may only slightly move the needle, at least from an enterprise perspective, as there are more modern issues that need to be addressed. Liquidware Labs, which provides technology for both Citrix and VMware environments, offers ProfileUnity and other technologies which profiles challenges that UPM does not solve. Smith went on to say that Liquidware Labs provides additional comprehensive features such as handling challenges like Microsoft Office 365 caching, supporting mixed Windows OS environments, eliminating profile corruption, and offering granular profile management when needed to include the ever common long list of poorly written application profile data bits.
Smith added, "When customers need to step-up to an enterprise User Environment Management solution with FlexApp Layering options, we'll still be the best answer and we'll still be a proven Citrix Ready partner."
Norskale has an excellent reputation in this industry. And with this add-on, existing Citrix customers will see an additional benefit within their XenApp and XenDesktop environments.
The new Workspace Environment Manager, based on the Norskale solution, will be available to all Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum edition customers with active Software Maintenance as a separate download. After that, we'll have to wait and see how well the technology will be integrated.