Citrix Gets BYOD Ready With Podio on iPad

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Citrix revamps the Podio for iPad, bringing native social collaboration, custom apps and productivity tools to the iPad. Will Citrix's tablet ambitions spark the first of many mobile-first approaches to BYOD and tablet-based productivity?

Back in April, Citrix Systems Inc. acquired software-as-a-service (SaaS)productivity company Podio ApS, which specializes in delivering a online productivity suite with deep social communication integration. Also included are a few other goodies, like project management, integrated CRM, an ISV app store and Google Doc integration.

Amid the wave of Google Inc.'s Apps and Mircosoft Corp.'s Office 365, Citrix was smart to scoop up Denmark-based Podio – mostly to keep it away from competitors.

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The initial acquisition looked like Citrix, of Santa Clara, Calif., was positioning itself to directly compete in the SaaS productivity space; but Citrix seems interested in capturing the more casual SMB SaaS world and the tablet space inside the same demographic with the release of its newly revamped Citrix Podio App for iPad.

Citrix explains, "Tablets [are] becoming standard devices for business productivity," and with the rise in the bring-you-own-device (BYOD) to work trend, Podio for iPad is set to deliver an intuitive "collaborative work platform." Once installed, the Podio app will deliver applications and services purpose-built for sharing and providing "social alternatives to spreadsheets and e-mail."

The Podio App Market allows users to download over 700 other applications already on the Podio platform, or build custom applications with a drag-and-drop interface – no coding required. Tablet power users will enjoy access to workspace collaboration tools, activity streams and file-sharing integration. Connectivity options for Google Apps, GoToMeeting, Exchange and other popular platforms are also readily available.

On a deeper level, Podio is about shifting paradigms. Citrix is delivering a natural tablet experience, eschewing its own virtualization backgrounds to focus on a new market entirely. It's a highly interesting strategy and one worth acknowledging, especially in the channel.

Citrix's moves show the company is highly aware of the cross-pollination happening between virtualization and BYOD. It isn't content to simply grow virtual desktops on tablets and shoe-horn Podio technology. Instead, Citrix is taking the tablet platform more seriously, essentially building out a mobile-first approach. The reason is a practical one: Podio for iPad is designed to "help you get work done," and the best way to do that is to go native.

There's a layer of abstraction when a virtualized desktop is pushed to a tablet. Touch controls can be unintuitive and without a keyboard, and using real productivity applications like Outlook or Word can also be cumbersome on a smaller screen. Thus, tablet-built apps create a more approachable platform that users can quickly understand and easily access. Putting Podio into a solution portfolio is an easy value-add.

Best of all, Podio for iPad is free to download, and it's free to sign up for a Podio account. Value-added resellers, managed services providers and solution providers can all give the platform a spin and determine if leveraging Podio is ideal for their uses. The SMB may be the sweet spot for this kind of solution, but there is no reason internal groups at enterprise corporations can't leverage the platform, too. CIOs may even be intrigued.

In earnest, Podio for iPad isn't groundbreaking, but Citrix's dedication to the platform (post-acquisition) shows the foresight the company has in understanding that mobile applications are the wave of the future, that the mobile workforce must be highly enabled, and that this future is just around the corner. 

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