Cloud Software Group one year on - theories are easy, realities are more complicated

Martin Banks Profile picture for user mbanks March 3, 2023
A year ago I speculated on what would result from the coming together of Citrix and TIBCO. Now owned by the Cloud Software Group, which was formed to allow them to continue as independent brands, it seems a sensible time to see how right or wrong that speculation was. The answer, like most things in life, is a bit of both.

right wrong

A little over a year ago I wrote a speculative piece following the announcement that Citrix and TIBCO were to merge, outlining what I saw as the direction the pairing would take in the future. I could now suggest that readers go back to that story and take it on-board, for what I wrote then is indeed where the company is heading. I can now finish writing this piece.

Except...well, it is all a bit more complicated than that, for what I wrote then is very likely to eventually be the case - even TIBCO’s Chief Operating Office and General Manager Matt Quinn hinted as much - but it is likely to be more complicated than the simplistic outline I presented back then, and will inevitably be driven by the user community – the customers of both companies.

Confused? Well, it has to be said that such confusion is usually the reality of multi-billion dollar mergers of big companies such as this. The confusion is not helped by the fact that at least one customer of both companies has actually constructed an environment that maps well onto the outline I laid out a year ago, while the pairing is no where near being in a position to say it is the future direction.

The best opinion that Quinn can offer is that it might be, sometime, if that is the way users want to go.

Just as a quick recap, here is  a precis of what I suggested as the result of the merger:

This is now the world of SDEAA (Software-Defined Everything And Anything), and if that is going to be of any value it increasingly has to operate end-to-end across the widest extremities of the network. And that network is going to stretch beyond the range of the company campus and into the networks of other companies – business partners, service providers and even customers themselves.

In combination, the pair will be important in exploiting SDEAA. TIBCO does the deep enterprise connection/integration stuff – and can reach out to the edge now, giving a real ‘end-to(via lots of specialist engineering)-end’, API-managed integration capabilities across an infrastructure of any size and complexity. Citrix provides comparable capabilities across enterprise operations, and its long-standing association with Virtual Desktop Integration (VDI) is an added advantage. Couple up these specialisms with the data delivery technologies of the Cloud, and VDI can now deliver a fast, flexible, secure and extremely well-integrated desktop work environment to staff, wherever they happen to be working.

Reality is harder

It would be easy to say, therefore, that all anyone needs to do is read that year-old piece and start making their plans accordingly, not least because Quinn acknowledges that what I wrote is right. However, he is also keen to point out that I was also NOT right in some rather important ways:

Remember that we're creating a company for scale. You have to be able to deliver services, you have to deliver world class support that's at the right level for customers and their mission critical operations. We're still in the early innings of the of the combination. It's only been September when the transaction was finally completed. So it only has been a few months. It takes time to identify those right use cases that have the broadest market acceptance when it comes to building integrations between technologies. So I agree, I think there are some definite, very interesting pieces when you look at a macro point of view, but those are going to take some time to come through in the market where our focus is at the moment. We want to make sure that we walk before we run.”

Another real world factor is ensuring the proper transition of the pair’s many existing brands, such as NetScaler, Jasper, Spotfire and others so they continue to operate as business units retaining their own identities and deliver their core services and products. Quinn says: 

We did a rigorous planning session that lasted several months to get ready for this year, But you've got to build things in waves. There's things that TIBCO needs to develop and deliver for its customers; things we announced a little while ago creating a single pane of glass across TIBCO products.

He did indicate that one of the options is to include the required building blocks to potentially join up to technologies like the Citrix VDI control plane:

So there's work that's going on, that's going to build up to those things. We reserve the option to create those combinations. We haven't decided yet whether that's going to be a direction we take the brands like Citrix and TIBCO. We are very focused on our core businesses at the moment, and it's incredibly important for our customers to hear that we are focused on the things that we do well, and that while there are bigger picture things, maybe in the future, they are going to be future, not today.


So the present for TIBCO is going to be the new Control Pane. This is aimed at providing richer management capabilities for customers using multiple TIBCO products and services. The aim now is to help this develop into a platform for monitoring and managing a complete estate of products that increasingly now extend across on premise, hybrid and multi-cloud to create complex integration environments. Quinn notes the potential for this to extend beyond just TIBCO products and on to Citrix products as well:

Citrix has a number of different things from XenServer, to the NetScaler, business, to the core VDI business, ShareFile, and others. There's a lot of great technology in the Citrix side that we could take advantage of, but we want to make sure that we're taking care of our own backyard, first making sure that our customers have what they need to grow with us, and to have that long distance relationship before we pursue any of those things. We want to evaluate those on a case-by-case basis, rather than trying for the future before users have even made the first brick.

The 'people thing’ still a problem

The logic behind Quinn’s position for TIBCO is undoubtedly sound, but I put it to him that developments were rushing ahead perhaps faster than TIBCO’s current planning might accommodate. This is certainly possible as the pressure for sustainable IT services rises and the potential offered by a combination of good data management, good data and services integration, and VDI reducing the amount of data being duplicated across corporate networks seems to be gathering a head of steam. He certainly sees the problem coming, but sees the need to attack a deeper, more human aspect first if the problem is to be tackled properly, especially in the short term. Humans will defeat all attempts at data reduction without some serious re-education. His reply: 

The vast majority of people in companies have data FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out. They hold data because it might be useful at some point. And I think that is going to be a long kind of pole in the tent to resolve. You store every permutation and combination of every piece of data that you ever got, just in case. We've all heard the stories of the companies that stack all of their data into a big data set, render some magical algorithm, and change the world. That's going to be a hard treadmill to get off. It's going to take tools that may or may not exist today.

And yet, and yet……

After all that being said about `yes, but sometime in the future’, Quinn launched into an anecdote that shows the future is also here right now for those that know they need it. The story concerns a combination of TIBCO business process management tools and Citrix VDI-equipped client systems for delivery to and from end users. Part of that choice was down to the fact that the customer – unspecified in either name or business sector – operated in a highly regulated industry, to the point where they can’t even add or delete code as they feel appropriate. Individual users, however, need access to not just the processes, but their individual interactions with the processes, wherever they are – and they do move around, he says: 

In this particular situation, here are the business processes you need to interact with and here are the steps that you need to follow in order to do it correctly. That was the right solution, because it gave massive amounts of security so that the process was only ever going to be seen and interacted with at that moment in time. And the data was all behind the application, you couldn't get access to the data, only could consume it through that.

My take

There it is in real life, and so in the end I am right, and Quinn is right. It will be needed and it can already be provided. But the rate at which it will be needed will only pick up slowly. Early adopters will, in practice, all be one-off engineering solutions. I think the rate of change – towards the arrival of a TIBCO/Citrix  `platform’ – will be faster than Quinn expects, but I won’t bet more than 50p on it. However, it will become a `norm’, and it can be done now if you need it.

The one thing he is not going to do right now is announce anything as a `platform’. He’ll let others be the judge:

Whenever you say you're building a platform, no-one ever thought that no one ever buys it. Now, basically, when a customer tells you, you've got a platform, that's a little bit the thing that we want to do. 

A grey colored placeholder image