• VirtZine - Video Netcasts

    VirtZine #51 – Video – “Virtualization News and a Raspberry Pi Citrix Client!”

    Dell buys EMC For $67B, Citrix scales back and spins off GoTo lineup, containers come to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016, Citrix, Raspberry Pi2 & ThinLinx: High-res graphics client for $50!


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  • VirtZine - Audio Netcasts

    VirtZine #51 – Audio – “Virtualization News and a Raspberry Pi Citrix Client!”

    Dell buys EMC For $67B, Citrix scales back and spins off GoTo lineup, containers come to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016, Citrix, Raspberry Pi2 & ThinLinx: High-res graphics client for $50!


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  • The Virtual World

    A Citrix VDI Client for $50.00?!?

    Can you imagine a high resolution client for Citrix VDI that only costs $15.00? Well, they have done it!

    Citrix, Raspberry Pi2 & ThinLinx: High-res Graphics Client for $50!

    Citrix Blog – Allen Furmanski – “These days, we’re all being challenged to do more with less. People are increasingly working with high-res graphics, full-frame videos and real-time audio with their business apps, while most IT budgets are shrinking.

    The capabilities of cost-effective thin clients and re-purposed PC solutions have continued to evolve and help keep pace with this challenge.

    Why we want to support the Raspberry Pi2

    With the explosion of new, low-cost devices like the Raspberry Pi, Arduinos and Onion Omega, at Citrix we are continuously working on ways to support these devices. A Raspberry Pi2 costs just $35 and we had a lot of customers asking us to produce a Citrix Receiver for such a device, for a range of use cases:

    • People looking for that $35 HDX accelerated endpoint – with a Linux VDA and OpenOffice you have a seriously cheap yet capable VDI solution
    • Finance/Federal – so cut down this is an ultra-secure endpoint with no memory on it and nothing significant to steal (the memory stick can be stored in a safe when not in use)
    • Large enterprises – because cutting $250+ off the cost of each thin client on a 10,000+ endpoint deployment makes sense ($2.5 million worth of sense!)
    • Healthcare – those kiosks nurses/doctors use etc. become easier to maintain – so cheap an endpoint that you can pull it out and replace it rather than spending time trying to fix it
    • Military – because cheap to replace if blown up/lost/needs to be destroyed
    • Thin-client refresh cycles are long, often 5 years or more, so you can afford to upgrade and refresh more often and a Pi used for 3 years will cost less than a dollar a month.

    The history

    One of our architects, Muhammad Dawood, took a keen interest in the Pi in particular and released a prototype Citrix Receiver for the Pi along with some hardware-accelerated plugins. His blogs generated phenomenal demand and reaction to the prototype.

    Productizing this has been tricky, because producing a specialized Receiver for just one hardware device would have been inefficient. So, behind the scenes we’ve been working with the Pi Organization to ensure our existing Linux Receiver would work with their new Pi2 architecture and supported OS images.

    With the release of XenDesktop/XenApp 7.6 FP3 and the new HDX Thinwire compatibility codec, we also had a codec that would perform efficiently on the Pi2 without the need for hardware accelerated plugins. This helps enable a full supported Linux Receiver on a $35 device.

    Martin Rowan from our test team also took a keen interest and has published his results showing 19+ FPS with this setup on his blog.

    Even higher framerates – H264 hardware acceleration

    Muhammad’s prototype included a basic H.264 plugin to leverage the System on a Chip (SoC) architecture of the Pi. These plugins are not something Citrix maintains or distributes as it is usually undertaken by the thin client manufacturer or third-party vendor. One such vendor, ThinLinx has now done this and is offering a supported operating system, complete with HDX hardware acceleration support and management software.

    Introducing ThinLinx

    ThinLinx produces the ThinLinx Operating System (TLXOS) for devices such as the Pi with the ability to deliver modern workloads using the Citrix HDX protocol. With TLXOS costing $15 per endpoint and providing a supported solution with client management software, we think this will be a great solution to use the Pi2 at scale.

    ThinLinx already supported other low cost devices such as the Intel Atom NUC. In fact, we demonstrated frame rates of 55FPS+ on a $165 thin-client at Synergy 2015. We think it should be possible to obtain similar results on a $35 device now.

    Citrix professional, Tobias Kreidl, of Northern Arizona University, recently did some testing with the low-cost Raspberry Pi2 running TLXOS. Impressed with the results, here is what Tobias had to say:

    The new package installs and runs AMAZINGLY well on XenDesktop under Windows 8.1. There are NO SIGNS OF HESITATIONS at all at full screen resolution and 1080p! Unigine Heaven runs very well, with smooth displays…YouTube videos run very well…Audio synchronization is spot on.

    View the video Tobias recorded to see the solution in action.

    Check out these other great videos with ThinLinx and Raspberry Pi devices:

    Have you used ThinLinx to deliver XenApp or XenDesktop workloads? Is a $50 thin client a game-changer? If so, we’d love to hear from you!”

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  • The Virtual World

    Containers for Microsoft Hyper-V

    Containers are the future, and now, Microsoft has added it to Windows Server 2016.

    Containers Come to Hyper-V

    Virtualization Review – By: Jeffrey Schwartz – “Although Docker has a large lead in container use and hype, challengers crop up nearly every day. Add to that the newest offering from Microsoft, built around its core hypervisor, Hyper-V.

    Yesterday, Microsoft released Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4, providing a first look at Hyper-V containers, an additional deployment option for those looking to create multitenant environments. Hyper-V containers offer a higher level of isolation, which offers better security, according to Microsoft. It’s available for download now along with the new System Center 2016 Technical Preview 4.

    In addition to the debut of Hyper-V containers, Microsoft has issued improvements to Windows Server containers and the Docker Engine for Windows, which made their appearance in the last technical preview, released back in August.

    ‘Hyper-V containers isolate applications with the guarantees associated with traditional virtualization, but with the ease, image format and management model of Windows Server containers, including the support of Docker Engine,’ according to Microsoft’s Server and Cloud blog post. ‘You can make the choice at deployment of whether your application needs the isolation provided by Hyper-V containers or not, without having to make any changes to the container image or the container configuration.’

    Microsoft acknowledges that while there’s still room for improvement, application compatibility is a key focus in the new technical preview. Among the applications and application frameworks that now work with Windows Server containers are ASP.NET 3.5 and 4.6. In addition, the new Nano Server deployment option allows for deployment as both a container host and as a container runtime in which the OS runs within the container. Microsoft said this is ‘a lean, efficient installation of Windows Server ideal for born-in-the-cloud applications.’ Microsoft also added support for shared folders support, which Docker calls volumes, as well as hostname configuration.

    The Nano Server, Microsoft’s reduced servicing deployment option, also includes support for Desired State Configuration, which is aimed at helping automate large server deployments, championed by Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Jeffrey Snover and lead architect for the server and cloud group. ‘These give you the tools for rapid iteration and lighter weight DevOps,’ Snover said.

    Nano Server can now run as a DNS Server or Web Server (IIS). Another key new feature added to Nano Server is the Windows Server Application (WSA) installer based on AppX, which Microsoft said provides a way to install other agents, tools and applications on the server.

    Microsoft also announced new software-defined datacenter improvements. Building on the Azure-consistent stack of the last technical preview, Microsoft has added high availability to the network controller, improved load balancing, container network and live migration support. Microsoft has also added Virtual Machine Multi-Queue to enable 10G+ performance.

    On the storage front, Microsoft has upgraded its Storage Spaces Direct feature to support all flash configurations with NVMe SSD and SATA SSD devices and Erasure Coding, which Microsoft said offers better storage efficiency. The Storage Health Service has improved health monitoring and operations, with one monitoring point per cluster. Storage QoS now supports adjusting the normalization size of the algorithm from the current default 8 KB settings, Microsoft said.

    The new security features include shielded VMs and Just Enough Administration, which restricts administrator rights. The latest preview also supports domain controllers and server maintenance roles.”

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  • The Virtual World

    Citrix Scales Back!

    Dropping XenServer, getting rid of the “GoTo” products… and laying some folks off. Ouch!

    Citrix Spins Off GoTo Lineup, Announces Layoffs

    Virtualization Review – By: Keith Ward – Citrix, which has been struggling for years to find a viable way forward in the current IT era, announced that it’s lopping off its “GoTo” product lineup along with about 1,000 employees, as it retrenches and restructures.

    GoTo Somewhere Else
    Citrix said in a press release that it was spinning off the products — which include GoToAssist, GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, GoToTraining, GoToWebinar, Grasshopper and OpenVoice — to ‘focus on its strategic solutions for secure and reliable delivery of applications and data.’ Citrix said those products amount to about $600 million in revenue. Given that Citrix revenues for all of 2014 were $3.14 billion, the spinoff will take away about 20 percent of the company’s sales.

    In a separate press release discussing its financials for the future, Citrix said those ‘strategic solutions’ include the products XenApp, XenDesktop, XenMobile, ShareFile and NetScaler. The moves are expected to save Citrix in the realm of $200 million annually, the company said. It expects that about 75 percent of those savings will come in fiscal year 2016.

    The layoffs themselves will cost Citrix between $65 million – $85 million, mostly due to severance arrangements, the company said.

    Anemic Growth
    “We are simplifying our business in all areas – product, marketing, sales, operations and development,” Bob Calderoni, interim CEO and president, said in the release. The simplification and layoffs, Citrix says, should result in growth of 1-2 percent next year, and 4-5 percent through 2017.

    Brian Madden, a well-known blogger covering the virtual desktop infrastructure space, wasn’t impressed by those figures. ‘For 2016, Citrix is setting a goal of 1-to-2 percent revenue growth, which, let’s face it, is codename for zero,’ Madden wrote. ‘They’re targeting 4-to-5 percent revenue growth for 2017, which, again, seems darn close to zero. I mean really… saying your best case scenario is 5% growth in two years? Yeah… I’m calling that zero.’

    Downward Trajectory
    Citrix’s downward spiral has been a long, slow one, but has picked up speed since investment company Elliott Management came on board. Elliott is known for taking an activist role, and demanding swift and significant changes for floundering businesses. They suggested early on that GoTo be spun off as a separate company. A look at the changes in just the past year paint a portrait of a company undergoing radical surgery for its long-term survival:

    Serious revenue declines in 2014, along with approximately 900 layoffs at the beginning of the year. Those layoffs were predicted to save Citrix between $90 million – $100 million. Prior to that layoff of 700 employees and 200 contractors, Citrix ended 2014 with a little over 10,000 employees, according to S.E.C. filings.

    CEO Mark Templeton announced his retirement. He was named CEO in 2001.

    The killing off of several once-important products, including VDI-in-a-Box, and, more recently, XenClient.

    The renewed emphasis on application and data delivery was demonstrated in August with the unveiling of Workspace Cloud, which Citrix described as ‘A single unified, global, and multi-tenant SaaS platform to create complete workspaces.’ One of the aspects that most distinguishes Workspace Cloud is its focus on the red-hot area of enterprise mobility management. XenDesktop and XenApp are at the heart of Workspace Cloud, which is cloud agnostic, allowing customers to use it on the Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure public clouds, for example.

    So Long, XenServer
    One product with the ‘Xen’ prefix missing from the ‘going forward’ lineup is XenServer, which was once one of Citrix’s most crucial offerings. It was supposed to compete directly with hypervisors like VMware’s ESXi and Microsoft’s Hyper-V, but never had the uptake to make it a serious player in the compute virtualization space. The main competitor to those two now is KVM, which is carving out a niche in convergence and hyperconvergence products from up-and-coming vendors like Nutanix, SimpliVity and Scale Computing. It’s also used in most OpenStack deployments.”

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  • The Virtual World

    Dell Buys EMC for $67 Billion!

    And, EMC owns VMware! What does this mean?

    Dell Buys EMC For $67B In Largest Deal In Tech History

    TechCrunch – By: Ron Miller – “In the largest tech deal in history by far*, Dell and partners MSD Partners and Silver Lake agreed to buy EMC today for $67 billion or $33.15 a share.

    This is way over the $27 price being rumored last week, and makes the deal far larger than the $37 billion that Avago paid for Broadcom just last May.

    What makes this deal even more interesting is that Dell, with a valuation of around $25 billion, was by far the smaller fish at approximately half the size of EMC.

    The biggest part of EMC by far is VMware, which was included in the deal and will continue to be a separately publicly traded company, but EMC will go private and become part of Dell ending the company’s long history as a publicly traded company.

    The two combined companies will make the Dell and EMC the world’s largest privately controlled, integrated technology company, according to a statement released by EMC.

    As expected, Dell will lead the newly formed organization and long-time EMC CEO Joe Tucci will retire. Tucci has put off retirement a couple of times because of problems finding a suitable successor. Michael Dell will run the combined organization.

    The question is with any deal of this sort, how will two massive companies with entrenched cultures come together into a single entity — and that remains to be seen.

    Aija Leiponen, an associate professor at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management thinks the companies could have problems.

    ‘Many if not most mergers actually destroy value, and merging two companies that have had trouble renewing and reviving themselves rarely succeed when combined. The merger is thus extremely risky. EMC and Dell are in complementary segments of the computer industry and if all goes well the two companies might be more valuable together than apart. But that’s a big if,’ she said.

    Dell has been looking to move away from the server business, which has grown commoditized in recent years and get deeper into enterprise with private cloud computing and storage where it could compete with IBM, HP and other traditional vendors, as well as Pure Storage and newer vendors.

    ‘Dell looks like they want to be the last man standing in cloud infrastructure,’ R Ray Wang, founder at Constellation Research told TechCrunch.

    There’s no getting around the fact that this is a huge gamble on Dell’s part, forcing it to find a new financial partner to make the deal happen, but the fact is this is the only way it could get big enough to compete in this space.

    For EMC, it gives Tucci a way to retire on a high note after more than 15 years as the company’s leader, leaving shareholders with the maximum value they could have possibly hoped for. Even though CNBC is reporting Tucci said, there is a “go-shop” provision that will allow the data storage company to seek out other buyers and give EMC a discounted breakup fee if it finds a more desirable deal,” the chances of anyone offering this kind of dough for EMC are slim.

    The deal is expected to close in mid-2016 and is of course subject to regulatory approval. It also remains to be seen once this deal closes whether Dell will sell off some of the pieces of EMC, particularly VMware, to help pay for it.

    Rumors of this deal began surfacing last week, and as we wrote, when a rumor is this strong, chances are there is something to it. As it turned out, there was.

    * The acquisition of Time Warner by Aol (owner of TechCrunch) in 2000 for $106 billion was actually bigger, but it was a media/tech deal. Dell buying EMC is the biggest tech acquisition in history.”

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  • VirtZine - Video Netcasts

    VirtZine #50 – Video – “Container Computing, and Other News”

    Get ready for containers! Virtualize your AD Domain Controllers, Enterprise computing and Docker, Microsoft Hyper/V increases market share as Citrix market falls, VMware still king, Citrix CEO Mark Templeton to retire, will VMware buy EMC?


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  • VirtZine - Audio Netcasts

    VirtZine #50 – Audio – “Container Computing, and Other News”

    Get ready for containers! Virtualize your AD Domain Controllers, Enterprise computing and Docker, Microsoft Hyper/V increases market share as Citrix market falls, VMware still king, Citrix CEO Mark Templeton to retire, will VMware buy EMC?


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  • The Virtual World

    Will VMware Buy EMC?

    VMware has put in an offer to buy EMC, it’s parent company.

    EMC Considers a Buyout by Its Own Subsidiary VMware

    re/code – By: Arik Hesseldahl – “Data storage and IT giant EMC is contemplating a deal under which it would be acquired by VMware, the software company in which it is a majority owner, according to sources briefed on the discussions.

    That is one of several options EMC’s board is exploring as part of a wide-ranging strategic review of its operations and as a partial response to pressure from an activist shareholder. Over the last several months it has explored selling the company to both Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, as well as acquiring other companies and selling off assets. Pressure has also increased for CEO Joe Tucci, 68, to get the company on a solid footing before he names a successor and retires.

    The discussion to have VMware buy out its parent company comes after Re/code outlined the possibility that EMC could buy out its remaining stake in VMware as part of a more conventional deal. VMware’s shares jumped nearly 3 percent Tuesday after the story. EMC currently owns 80 percent of VMware.

    EMC board directors are now looking at a second scenario in which VMware would effectively buy out its parent EMC in a transaction known as a downstream merger. In this instance, VMware would issue new shares in exchange for EMC shares in combination with cash raised from the issuance of new debt.

    EMC shares rose by more than 3 percent to $26.85 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday. VMware shares fell by $4.82 or more than 5 percent to $86.12.

    The move to have VMware buy out EMC is being supported by activist fund Elliott Management, according to sources. Elliott, led by billionaire Paul Singer, had a hand in installing two new EMC board members earlier this year and owns a little more than 2 percent of EMC’s shares. Previously, the firm has publicly pressured EMC to divest its stake in VMware, arguing that the investment has left the parent undervalued and has caused the two companies to compete. Tucci has remained steadfastly opposed to selling EMC’s stake in VMware.

    Elliott has lately signaled to EMC’s board that it would oppose a move by EMC to buy out the remaining 20 percent of VMware that it doesn’t already own, according to sources. It’s unclear which way EMC’s board is leaning for the moment. A standstill agreement under which Elliott has agreed not to pressure EMC publicly expires next month. Spokespeople for EMC, VMware and Elliott Management all declined to comment.

    Specific terms of the downstream merger deal proposed — including prices and potential premiums — could not be learned, and sources stressed that no agreement has been reached and a deal may not ultimately materialize.

    However, the rough outline of the deal under consideration by EMC’s board would work like this, according to sources:

    VMware would issue somewhere between $50 billion and $55 billion worth of new shares. A portion of those shares — about $30 billion — would be used to cancel EMC’s 80 percent stake in VMware, which currently has a market value of $38.5 billion. The remaining new VMware shares would be issued to current EMC shareholders, who will also get some cash generated from the issuance of about $10 billion in new debt. EMC shares closed Tuesday at $26.01, valuing the company at about $50 billion.

    The downstream merger arguably makes better financial sense, because VMware’s shares currently trade at a higher valuation relative to earnings than EMC’s shares. EMC shares are trading at about 12 times estimated 2016 earnings, while VMware shares are trading at more than 20 times forward earnings. It’s unclear what the management structure of the new company would be or who would be its CEO.

    If EMC decides to combine with VMware in some way, the process would be driven by EMC’s board. While VMware has a measure of independence as a publicly traded company in its own right, five of its nine directors, including Tucci, also sit on EMC’s board. As of March 31, regulatory filings show EMC owns 80.6 percent of VMware’s common stock and has more than 97 percent voting control over VMware’s common stock.

    Once combined, the companies would likely save on operational costs. Amit Daryanani, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, estimated in a research note to clients last week that combining EMC and VMware into one company would reduce their combined operating costs by as much as $946 million in 2016. EMC pledged last month to cut as much as $850 million in annual operating costs by the end of 2017.

    Downstream mergers are rare. In one notable example, hard drive maker Seagate used the technique in a complex three-way transaction with Veritas Software and the private equity firm Silver Lake in the late 1990s. (As part of that deal, Seagate briefly went private, but returned to public markets with an IPO in 2002.)

    EMC acquired VMware in 2003, paying $625 million for the startup whose software is used to make one computer act like many, a technique called virtualization. Four years later, EMC sold about 15 percent of VMware’s shares in an IPO that valued it at about $19 billion, and retained most of the rest. (Cisco Systems owns a little less than 5 percent.) Today VMware is worth about $37 billion and accounts for about 75 percent of EMC’s valuation.

    The arrangement has led to an unusual corporate structure that EMC calls a ‘federation.’ Tucci has said the structure allows both companies to jointly approach customers and compete fiercely against shared rivals. EMC’s core business is selling data storage systems to large companies. Other companies in the federation include Pivotal, a big data and analytics software startup it launched in 2013 with an investment from GE. It also includes RSA, a computer security company EMC acquired in 2006.

    VMware’s software has emerged as one of the fundamental technologies that companies use in their data centers especially as they shift their computing operations to the cloud, and has recently branched into cloud services and storage hardware that arguably competes against some EMC products.

    ‘VMware has become one of the key companies that provide the glue that holds a data center together,’ said Pat Moorhead, head of the research firm Moor Insights and Strategy. ‘If you’re building data centers, VMware has to be part of the conversation.’ VMware ended 2014 with more than $6 billion in revenue, up 16 percent from the prior year.

    EMC’s core data storage business has been under pressure in recent years, as new storage technologies based on flash memory have emerged and challenged its dominance and sales of conventional hard-disk-based storage systems have leveled off. The business posted $16.5 billion in sales, up 2 percent from the prior year. It has acquired flash storage companies like XtremIO in recent years and has recently become more aggressive in that relatively new portion of the storage business, challenging upstarts like Pure Storage.

    Tucci’s successor hasn’t been named, and contenders include both David Goulden, CEO of EMC’s $24 billion (2014 sales) information infrastructure unit and Patrick Gelsinger, a former Intel executive who is VMware’s CEO.”

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  • The Virtual World

    Citrix CEO to Retire

    Mark Templeton is retiring from Citrix, the company he has led since 2001.

    Mark Templeton To Step Down as Citrix CEO

    Virtualization Review – By: Jeffrey Schwartz – “Citrix CEO Mark Templeton has announced his retirement from the company he’s led since 2001. It was one of several announcements that promise to shake up Citrix, which appears to be on the cusp of a new era.

    Templeton first joined Citrix 20 years ago as vice president of marketing. In 1998 he was elevated to president, and was handed the reigns three years later. Under his stewardship, profits grew enormously, but in the last few years Citrix has begun to struggle badly.

    Elliot Management Gets On Board
    Because of those problems, the company has agreed to give activist investor Elliott Management, which holds 7.5 percent of Citrix’s common stock, a seat on its board. The seat will be filled by Jesse Cohen, who will replace Asiff Hirji. Citrix also said the company’s board has formed an operations committee to work closely with the company’s management team to find ways to improve margins, profits and its capital structure.
    The board has also agreed to Elliott’s demands that it consider the sale or spinoff of the Citrix ‘Go To’ business, which includes Go To Meeting, Go to My PC and Go to Webinar, among other related product lines. Citrix said it will conduct a review of strategic alternatives for that business.

    Elliott last month sent a letter to Templeton and Citrix chairman Thomas Bogan, indicating it wants to see the company improve its operations and spin off some assets, arguing the Citrix is significantly undervalued, suggesting its stock could be worth up to $100 per share by the end of next year. The stock closed at $61.47 per share on Thursday, though rose on the news and slightly better than a better than expected second quarter report with $797 million in revenue, up 2 percent year-over-year, and $103 million in earnings.

    In addition to the new board director Cohen, the operations committee will include Citrix director Robert Calderoni, who was also named executive chairman of the board. Bogan was also named to the committee and he’ll become lead independent director of the Citrix board.

    ‘Fresh Perspectives’
    “We believe the addition of new and fresh perspectives to our board will ensure Citrix continues to lead in application networking and virtualization markets,” Bogan said in a statement. Added Elliott’s Cohen: “We are confident that the initiatives announced today and the addition of new directors to the company’s board will allow Citrix to build upon its position as an innovative industry leader, and to drive significant shareholder value.”
    Citrix, best known these days for its XenDesktop and XenApp desktop virtualization platform, is also betting big on its new Cloud Workspace platform. The company demonstrated Cloud Workspace for first time at its Synergy conference in Orlando, back in May. Citrix Workspace Cloud is the company’s next-generation digital workspace for Windows-based PCs, Macs, iPads, Android tablets, Chromebooks new Linux-based systems and even embedded devices that enable Internet of Things-type environments. It’s based on a cloud delivery architecture that provides orchestration across servers and nodes.

    Second Retirement
    This isn’t the first time Templeton has announced his retirement. In February 2014 he said he would retire later that year, but in June 2014 he reversed himself , and said he’d be staying on. He said in the press release at the time that “While I had planned to retire within the year following my leave of absence, my personal circumstances have changed, and I am more determined than ever to lead Citrix through its next wave of transformation.” It appears now that the transformation will happen without him, after all.”

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