Citrix: Hey channel, we're BAAAA-ACK. Can't flog clouds without you

'Tried and failed', world has moved on. So sad

Citrix is to again allow resellers to sell a portion of its cloudy wares. The vendor claims that the increased size of the market means supporting a channel is now economically viable.

The Citrix SaaS Advisor programme is to be rolled out over the coming months with resell and referral elements for office software products such as GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, GoToAssist, Podio and ShareFile.

Kevin Bland, Citrix director of channels and alliances for northern Europe, told us that after acquiring web-based desktop access and help-desk biz Expertcity in 2003, Citrix had "tried and failed" to develop an army of software-as-a-service (SaaS) punting partners.

"It was at a point in time when cloud wasn't something that businesses said they wanted to drive toward - an environment where part or all of the infrastructure is delivered as a service. The world has moved on."

He said it was largely SMEs and individuals that signed up via its website to consume software online but reckons large corporate firms are taking the plunge too, giving suppliers a bigger target.

"SaaS has been low volume, usually a low [value] piece of revenue. I don't think traditionally there's been an appetite [for it] in channel because there wasn't widespread [customer] adoption. That is changing," said Bland.

The GoTo range, Podio and ShareFile all tap into demand from firms wanting to transform the workplace to promote aspects such as flexible working, the Citrix man added.

A senior figure within one Citrix Platinum Partner, agreed cloudy software is "creeping into the corporate world" and talked up the ShareFile offer.

"The Citrix model has been more about direct, the margins were quite low. ShareFile has a larger professional service piece and recurring revenues.

"But the GoTo portfolio offers one year of revenues, for us its about recurring revenues, so that particular offer is not as appealing," he said.

The adoption rate of cloud services was over hyped and resellers remain cautious about the off-premise IT delivery model, said Canalys principal analyst Alastair Edwards.

"The market is at a cross roads, the channel is unsure of the impact of the cloud on traditional business but are fearful of missing an opportunity if they don't embrace it," he said.

Vendor have not defined the go-to-market model, concentrating instead on building out the infrastructure for cloud service providers but had realised the need to involve sales folk in the channel.

"Now that the infrastructure has been built out there is still the issue of relatively low demand and the slow transition to IT as a service. Only now do they realise the important role of the channel".

But there is a disconnect, he added, in that channel partners want to work with vendors - the brand strength and infrastructure - not cloud providers who they suspect may have no loyalty to resellers.

The inaugural Citrix channel scheme is one of a number of fixes the US giant is making - it is also raising accreditation criteria and simplifying rebates under the Solution Advisor Programme.

As part of this, channel partners classified Silver no longer need to meet minimum criteria. Gold and Platinum partners (the latter is no longer by invite only) will need raise sales and techie staff that are Citrix certified.

Bland said as part of the overhaul it has moved from a complex matrix of rebates to one that is tied to accreditation levels, making earning more predictable and the process more transparent.

"We want this to be a reason for a partner to want to reach the next level [of accreditation]. [We want to] increase profitability so they can step up to the mark and raise their skills," he said. ®

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