Citrix Systems Inc. was founded in Texas back in 1989. In the past 30 or so years, Citrix has evolved from a developer of remote access software for Microsoft Windows to an internationally known provider of desktop virtualization, software-as-a-service, and cloud technologies. Recently, Citrix has embarked on a rebranding strategy that looks to position the company as “the new face of work.”
The overall concept of the new corporate identity for Citrix is to freshen up the overall employee experience. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, remote working has become the new normal. However, this change was already trending well before the outbreak of the COVID-19. According to the 2019 Buffer State of the Remote Worker report, 99 percent of workers would like to work remote, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers.
This prevailing movement has encouraged Citrix to rebrand itself along the lines of this new way of working. The company no longer views work as a place. Instead, it looks at it as an experience where people can execute tasks and strive for achievement with minimal distractions and interruptions.
Leading the charge in Canada is Edward Rodriguez, the Vice President of Sales and General Manager of Citrix Canada. Rodriguez has been at the helm of Citrix Canada for more than two years and, during the Jolera Interview Series, said he looks to grow Citrix Canada by improving the way people work.
“At Citrix, we believe we can grow the company by working on getting the most out of our employees. We provide an experience that empowers them to do their best. Superior employee experience is essential in fueling business goals such as attracting and retaining talent, boosting customer satisfaction, increasing brand loyalty, and ultimately increasing revenue,” he said.
To that end, Citrix has developed several secure, intelligent workspace technologies that bring tools, apps, content and devices into a single user experience that can be customized to fit any individual’s needs while helping them evolve their work style.
During his 20-plus year career, Rodriguez has focused on improving individual employee performance to grow the business.
“When you do that, it helps boost productivity and creates a sense of accomplishment for the employees, fostering engagement and drives passionate, purposeful, innovative thinking. We all know this is something we need to continue in the evolution of business,” Rodriguez added.
One of Citrix’s new brand awareness campaign’s underlining themes is attempting to tame work complexity. A typical workday could see someone dealing with more than a dozen apps, spending a quarter of their day searching for data to make the right business decision while continually being interrupted by texts, chats and application alerts.
During the Jolera Interview Series, Rodriguez outlines the new Citrix corporate identity program and its means to the Canadian market.
He also talks about the as-a-service market, mentoring young professionals, and handling the pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
Jay McBain, the Principal Analyst – Channels, Partnerships & Alliances at Forrester Research, talks to roughly 500 companies about channel programs every year. If you think that is a lot, it just skims the surface, according to McBain, who has himself transitioned from a Channel Chief for Lenovo and Autotask to an influencer at Forrester Research during his career.
During the Jolera Interview Series, McBain recognizes more than 10,000 companies in the world that run some channel program. There are also approximately 175,000 software companies doing business, of which only 10 percent have a channel program.
If you add in the emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and Blockchain, to name a few, then there could be more than 800,000 other companies to add to the channel mix. Of the emerging technology companies, only 10 percent of those organizations are running a channel program.
All this activity leads McBain to one conclusion: “Channels are about to explode.”
According to McBain’s research, the transformation IT vendors and channel partners have gone through in the last 18 months is more than what business has seen in the past 39 years combined.
“Partnerships are changing, the way we go to market is changing, and customer behaviours are changing, the growth of marketplaces and ecosystems are becoming more important,” he added.
This is where the as-a-service market kicks in. Recent data captured from CEOs from several industries help paint a direction for the as-a-service world. McBain says that 76 percent of CEOs tracked in this survey believe their current business model will be unrecognizable in the next five years. The market is moving quickly to subscription and consumption-based models such as Netflix.
“Everything will be as-a-service whether it is driving a car, renting a forklift, or buying paper-clips. You have to be rethinking your business model for as-a-service.”
All this activity in the as-a-service market has led to the creation of super-marketplaces, McBain said.
He added that if there is one trend to focus on for Managed Services Providers (MSP) today, its super-marketplaces because they will impact the channel dramatically.
And most of these super-marketplaces we know already, such as Amazon and Alibaba. But, the COVID-19 pandemic has only escalated their relevance in the market, and now we learn from a joint Forrester/McKinsey study that super-marketplaces have grown more in the last three months than during the previous ten years combined.
“In the U.S. alone, about 1/3 of all the dollars in the economy flow through super-marketplaces. We predicted 17 percent of the IT industry would flow through super-marketplaces – that’s $3.6 trillion by 2023. What COVID-19 has done is driven that prediction to next year,” McBain said.
During the interview, McBain provided insights on the trifurcated channel, the lasting impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on IT, and who the winners will be in the age of the super-marketplaces.
Two decades ago, the term RMM or Remote Monitoring and Management was not in anyone’s IT vocabulary. Back then, Gavin Garbutt founded N-able Technologies in Ottawa and developed an RMM solution that fits well in the SMB market and created a new managed services economy for the channel.
Today, Garbutt is starting a new venture called Augmentt. Once again, creating a new channel of revenue for managed services providers (MSPs) with a Software-as-a-Service solution helps MSPs better understand their customers’ SaaS usage, apps, and the costs associated with those apps, identify shadow IT and enforce security policies.
According to Garbutt, Augmentt tries to solve the same problem that N-able tackled 20 years ago.
“The idea of N-able was started when I was at a cocktail party at Christmas time. I talked to a $5 million VAR (Value Added Reseller) and asked him if there was one thing, he could use that would propel his business forward from a profitability and operational perspective,” he said.
The business owner told Garbutt a remote monitoring tool that would inform him of issues ahead of time would be ideal. This type of tool could save the VAR precious time and money from dispatching a truck filled with technicians. This tool could also fix the issue remotely or pinpoint what equipment the technicians needed to bring for onsite remediation. Garbutt’s response to the VAR owner was solutions such as HP OpenView, CA Unicenter, and IBM Tivoli already existed for that. However, those solutions were all enterprise-grade and not well suited for small to medium-sized businesses.
“Eureka! Here’s an opportunity,” Garbutt said.
Fast forward 20 years and all those devices MSPs are handling have moved to the cloud, and the important part of IT is no longer monitoring the actual devices but the applications that run on them.
“So, my view is the next pivot is on cloud services and apps management. This is how MSPs can help customers improve their performance,” he said.
Garbutt does not consider himself to be a pioneer. Instead, he described himself as a person who worked to innovate industries. When starting N-able, he looked at the current landscape and saw the MSP model at 120 devices managed per technician and thought, how can I get that up to 1,000, while still improving service delivery?
“N-able started just after the Dot-Com bust. We tried to create technology to help VARs, at the time, move away from a reactive services model. Back then, their real value was to be inside the customer’s environment and work to fix things. We changed that with remote monitoring and management tools, which took those businesses to a new level. My aspiration was let us take the old model where we managed 120 devices per technician at $60 per month, per device and increase it to 800 or 1,000 per technician: still at $60 a device per month. That now increases your EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) profit by 20 to 30 percent.”
Garbutt’s approach to entrepreneurship is to “go big or go home” and to have the ambition that you can make a difference in a large industry or with a small business owner.
Also, during the interview, Garbutt talking about his experience starting a company during a worldwide pandemic. He also spoke about his leadership style in times of crisis and what the second “T” stands for in his new company Augmentt.
If you ask Denis Gaudreault, the Country Manager of Intel Canada, to describe the chip-making giant, you might be surprised at his answer. Since Intel gained mainstream notoriety with its “Intel Inside” marketing campaign in 1989, the company has been best known for its microprocessors. He mentioned that many do not realize Intel has been in business for more than 50 years. Through Intel’s history, the company has gone through many different stages. Today, Intel is a data-centric company that builds technology from end-to-end such as edge devices all the way up to the data center.
“We do the full spectrum of digital transformation,” Gaudreault said.
While Gaudreault admits he does not have a crystal ball, he did say the COVID-19 global pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has accelerated the realization of digital transformation.
“We are on our way, and we have been advocating for this, especially in Canada, for quite some time. Now people have realized how critical this is to an organization, and we see the behaviour change.”
Gaudreault added that telehealth and education are two sectors that he has seen a massive acceleration for digital transformation in Canada. In its own way, Intel is working to address the many new waves of innovation, such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and 5G. According to Gaudreault, all these new waves of innovation are key elements of the company’s strategy.
“We see them as leads for digital transformation, and they provide an important infusion to our solutions,” he said.
Intel has always been a channel-centric organization from early in the company’s history. In the past year, the Canadian operation has developed several partner programs to ensure business continuation during this difficult lockdown.
“There has been a big shift already to the as-a-service model, and with the pandemic, this has only accelerated. The as-a-service model helps to save on capital expenditure and provides more agility and flexibility. Those who went that route, I believe, reacted better to the pandemic,” Gaudreault said.
Gaudreault also brought up his passion for career development, and during the Jolera Interview Series, he spoke about how important it is to be life-long learners. Intel Canada has added significant investment in this area for training and building career plans for its staff.
“We push people to develop themselves, and it’s not only good for their career, but it helps Intel evolve and grow as well,” he added.
Gaudreault also gave his perspective on what young professionals will say about the COVID-19 lockdown in 20 years and how leaders will be seen based on how they acted during the crisis.
For Bill Brandel, the country chief executive of Ingram Micro Canada, acting fast to help the many thousands of channel partners that rely on Ingram Micro Canada for its supply of IT solutions became the priority for the long-time distribution executive.
Brandel has been the Ingram Micro Canada leader for just over four years. In that time, he has gained a great perspective in the marketplace because he deals with hundreds of vendor partners and thousands of channel partners. As Canadian business and society were heading into an unknown lockdown because of the massive spread of the Novel Coronavirus, Brandel understood that financing was going to be crucial if any of these businesses Ingram serves were going to survive.
He decided to explore corporate financing programs and found a U.S.-based plan called KickStart. Ingram’s normal course of action is to launch programs in the US and then bring them into other geographies such as Canada. Since Ingram Micro Canada is run autonomously, Brandel decided to take KickStart and Canadianize it immediately. Called Future Funds, it extends roughly $110 Million in additional credit to channel partners, while also waiving significant financial service fees. Future Funds also offers exclusive payment terms to solution providers who are members of Trust X Alliance and SMB Alliance communities.
“It was always important for us to get out of the gate with the COVID-19 lockdown. We could see right away that this was not going to be a quick thing that was going to pass through the market. We knew this was going to leave a long-lasting impact. The biggest challenge is managing working capital. Even without the pandemic, many companies were transitioning from a project-based business, which is a buy/sell relationship to an as-a-service or consumption-based model. Those models put a lot of strain on working capital as many companies have to purchase the hardware upfront to develop customer annuity buying programs,” Brandel said during the Jolera Interview Series program.
Brandel does see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. “I am the eternal optimist, and I do see the light at the end of the tunnel as things are getting better in Quebec, for example. BC is getting back to normal, and in Ontario, while we are more conservative, I am encouraged that we’ll get back to normal based on the good feedback I received from Quebec,” he said.
In this unprecedented time, the Buffalo-native has been amazed at the resilience of the entire Canadian IT community and how quickly they have responded to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. “When you look at the impact this could have brought to channel partners, vendors and the supply chain… at one point it looked overwhelming, but this group has done an amazing job, and it speaks to the ingenuity of the customer base,” he said.
As a young adult, Ryan Narinesingh enjoyed taking things apart and figuring out how they worked. Building computer systems for small to medium-size businesses is how he got his start in the Canadian IT industry. It is this yearning to know and understand the inner workings of things that helped Narinesingh develop one of the more vibrant channel ecosystems for Veeam Canada, a backup solutions vendor that can deliver cloud data management.
The long-time channel leader for Veeam Canada embarks on a new challenge in his career, taking on the role of Area Sales Director for Veeam in Central & Atlantic Canada.
During an interview for the Jolera Interview Series program, Narinesingh said that his track record working with channel partners and building strong relationships would help him transition into the Eastern and Atlantic market, which has a unique set of challenges such as language and market size.
“I took on this new role because I want to get closer to the customer and see what challenges are out there. I want to find out what keeps these people up at night. We’ve been blessed at Veeam Canada to have more than 13,000 customers across the country, and many of these people chose Veeam. Some have said that Veeam solutions saved their jobs. I want to better understand why and help organizations who are struggling to succeed,” he said.
During his time building the channel for Veeam Canada, Narinesingh understood he was competing with several other backup vendors, but he credit’s Veeam’s three pillars – Growth, Technology and People along with a channel first strategy – that helped him gain a foothold with the channel community in Canada.
One of Narinesingh’s more audacious moves was developing a partnership with Jolera Inc., which enabled Veeam to go deeper into the as-a-service market.
He said that his lifelong drive to find out the inner working of things helped bring him to Jolera.
“I thought there were a lot of parallels with Veeam and Jolera. Both believe in partnership and leveraging the best of breed technology, tools, processes, and people to accomplish the end user’s goals. Today, customers are looking for that, and it’s inherent in the culture of Jolera. They are very familiar with the OPEX model and managing it all for the customer instead of just selling product X, and hopefully, it works out. They want to own the result and maintain strict SLAs; maintain uptimes for organizations, which’s a significant risk for an organization. Not all organizations what to take that on. Jolera was open and ready to take on this risk, and we have seen great results so far with the partnership,” he added.
Narinesingh believes these types of as-a-service partnerships will drive the market today and into the future. Recently, Veeam reported an annual recurring revenue increase of 20 percent year-over-year for the second quarter of 2020. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, this was Veeam’s biggest second quarter in the company’s 14-year history.
During the interview, Narinesingh talked about Veeam’s go-to-market strategy, the challenges posed by COVID-19, the rise of the remote worker, mentoring, activities in the community and his leadership style in times of crisis.