San Francisco — The Citrix Synergy conference kicked off Wednesday with a series of announcements around the company's core remote access, cloud and back-end services including a new social media ofering for the enterprise. A packed hall attended the morning keynote in the same Moscone Center hall where Apple's Steve Jobs used to kick off the annual Macworld Expo.
For mobile users Citrix announced the release of GoToMeeting HDFaces for the iPad that combines video conferencing, audio conferencing and screen sharing. Citrix is touting the fact that HDFaces gives offers mobile workers a single, integrated experience that builds on the company's popular GoToMeeting software for virtual meetings.
Asked about competition from Apple's own FaceTime, Chris Fleck, Citrix VP of Mobility Solutions said there's no question families and individuals may continue to use FaceTime. "But it only works with iThings," said Fleck. "GoToMeeting can be used with almost any device or desktop, iPad 2 or 3, Android, Windows, etc."
GoToMeeting HDFaces costs $49 a month for what Citrix says covers "all you can meet." A free 30-day trial is also available.
Citrix also enhanced its cloud-based Citrix ShareFile service for file-sharing. A new ShareFile StorageZones technology is designed to give customers more options as to where they can store files, including on-premise and private datacenters as well as in a public cloud service.
Jesse Lipson, the founder of Sharefile and now VP and GM of Data Sharing at Citrix, said StorageZones are transparent to the end user but can be configured by IT administrators.
"This is not about Dropbox for the enterprise," said Templeton, "but iCloud for business that goes to every use case."
Citrix is also integrating ShareFile with its Citrix Receiver software client already used by millions of people to access business applications from their PC, Mac, tablet or smart phone. The company says this new integration means users will be able to open, view, edit, save and share documents on their personal and mobile devices, regardless of where those documents were initially created.
"We're focusing on managing the data and the apps, not the device itself, which is appropriate for BYOD" (Bring Your Own Device), Fleck told TabTimes.
Collaboration with Citrix Podio
Citrix also had news related to Podio, the social network company it bought in April. Citrix Podio, which sports a very familiar Facebook-like interface, is now available as a free service for teams up to five people and $8 / month, per user beyond that. Taking an unmistakable dig at a likely competitor, Yammer, Templeton said that "unlike other platforms where you yammer about work, Podio lets you get work done."
Among other benefits, Fleck said Podio like other enterprise social media competitors, can be far more efficient than email because there's less back and forth replies to groups and individuals that may not be relevant to many of the recipients. "You can just post a status message and anyone that needs to know that information can see it," he said.
As for advantages versus Yammer and other services, Fleck says the key difference is that Podio offers an easy way for users to build apps. "Basically anyone can build an app or workflow that traditionally required real developers," said Fleck. "So that's an advantage and also that it can be integrated with Sharefile and GoToMeeting."
Another product of particular interest to IT is GoToAssist for mobile devices. Already available for the iPad, Citrix CEO Mark Templeton announced the availability of the free app for Android devices as well. GoToAssist lets someone remotely take over the screen of another user (with permission) to assist problems or offer instruction.
"It's free so if you want to support your workgroup, Mom or Dad go for it," said Templeton. "We think it's so good that you'll want to bring the bigger product into your organization," he added, referring to the enterprise and business version a tech support group or help desk could use to support multiple users.
Citrix said over 6,200 people have registered for the Citrix Synergy conference which runs through Friday.