Lessons from Rick Mack

It was recently announced that Rick Mack is now working for Provision Networks.  This might seem like uninteresting news to most but it meant a lot to me.  I worked with Rick back in 1998 at Silicon Data in Brisbane.  It’s going to be hard to explain why this news is important to me but I am sure that I can.

First of all, Rick Mack is an amazing technologist.  He has deployed so many instances of Citrix and Microsoft technology and knows so much about the environments that he is instantly recognized as an expert.  Some people would call him a genius and I would agree.

His reputation in Australia is huge and the most amazing thing is that he takes this position lightly and is actually so down to earth that it is hard to see how much influence he has over people.

I had heard that he moved on a few weeks ago but I had no idea of what the story was for his departure.  Thanks to Brian Madden, I now know what happened.

From: Rick Mack
Reply-To: < thin@freelists.org>
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2008 19:58:44 -0600
To: < thin@freelists.org>
Subject: [THIN] Re: PSE450R01W2K3005.msp

Hi People,

I got offered a job by Provision and after a lot of soul searching, I took it. And believe it or not it wasn’t about money.

But it was one of the harder decisions I’ve had to make.

Resigning as a CTP was nearly impossible. I really really admire the other CTPs and feel they’re about the best bunch of people around. And of course there’s always the ego bit.

Then there was Citrix.

I’ve been supporting Citrix products since 1993 (Winview) and having the opportunity to actually try and make a difference as a CTP was just incredible. And the Citrix people who encouraged and supported the CTP program have just been terrific, especially Brad Nunn.

I hope I was able to help in some of the changes we’ve seen in Citrix in terms of it’s connection with the Citrix user and reseller community, but there was also a lot of frustration.

My gut feeling is that Citrix are awfully close to losing the plot from a TS/SBC perspective. There are so many things in the present TS product that could be fixed with just a bit of extra effort that aren’t going to be because so much of Citrix’ energy is being absorbed into their new acquisitions. Some of the new stuff (Xen, provisioning server etc) is more than cool, once it’s properly integrated and ready for serious use.

As negative examples, until fairly recently, the whole of Citrix’ printer subsystem development was being done solely by Gary Barton. There are the 2 management consoles, the incomplete mfcom apis, non-existent Palm/Blackberry synchronization, USB redirection etc. Of course it’ll all going be fixed in the Server 2008 product, maybe, but a lot of the additional functionality will be provided by Microsoft rather than Citrix.

Citrix are desperately trying to re-invent themselves, and I still remember Novell doing the same thing 12 years ago. How can you justify losing focus on a product core that’s generating more that 3/4s of your income?

Of course there’s always Platinum edition, but what about the advanced and enterprise customers, what are they getting?

Sorry. it’s probably not appropriate to be voicing my frustrations like this, but I felt you deserved a decent explanation.

I guess I came to realise that my allegience wasn’t so much to Citrix but rather you guys (and girls) and the SBC community and technologies. And Citrix has had such a central role.

So why did I go to Provision?

The “fatal” hook was being offered the opportunity  to get involved in really helping to set the direction of the product.

Imagine being able to ask for an enhancement and watching it happen.
Imagine having a customer or reseller come to you with a requirement for something special and being able to develop and deliver what they need.
Imagine putting together an SBC product that will have ALL the bells and whistles. No third party add-ons needed to fix stuff that has been “broken” forever.  

Provision are far from perfect, their support forums suck, they’ve been so focussed on R&D and pushing out a good product that a lot of other little things have suffered.

But now that Quest is in the mix, we’ve got the resources to fix things up and maybe make something really special. Some of the stuff coming out in the next few months should really make people sit up and take notice.

Anyway, I’m not leaving, just wearing a different logo on my shirt. My heart is still in the same place and I hope I can still contribute something useful.

Oh, and I’ll try to avoid mentioning that “we can do that” too often 😉



Quest Software
Provision networks Division

I’ve included the whole email to strike a point.  I see this as a wake up call to Citrix.  I would like to see this message propagated throughout Citrix and know this important point. Rick Mack, above all, is incredibly fair and very mindful of what he says.  If he has committed to writing, it should be taken very seriously since it is most likely a fair representation of what resellers  and even customers are thinking.

If I did not know him, I would probably classify his statements as over-reactions.  However, I do know him and I also know that Rick is far more likely to understate the nature of the problem.  If he gets this concerned, you have a serious problem.

When I rejoined Citrix (leaving working with Rick) in 1999, I had the vision of making a difference again for Citrix.  Some of the very things he mentions have been on my mind since rejoining.  Obviously he sees more of the rough surfaces than I do but I do understand where he is coming from.

Please read his message a few times and let it sink in.  I think it will eventually help everyone see the light of what is not working.


Live near Brisbane, Australia. Software developer currently focused on iOS and Android. Avid Google Local Guide

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Posted in Customer Feedback
2 comments on “Lessons from Rick Mack
  1. Jim K says:

    What Jeff you mean you don’t subscribe to the THIN List? I thought all the Citrix guys were on it. : ) It should read thanks to the THIN List. LOL (subscribe at:
    http://www.freelists.org/list/thin )
    I’m still Moderator of it and STILL a Citrix CTP (though our numbers are dwindling arent they?)
    Rick is spot on and that is coming from ME the Citrix Customer not the CTP. Sorry I can’t attend the Iforum or whatever it is called but Housten in May or June? Cmon guys. This really sucks. Put it back to October in Orlando.

    Jim Kenzig

  2. jeffreymuir says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for stopping by. I subscribed to the Thin List recently.
    It is good to hear what people think out there. There are plenty of hints and direct statements based on what Rick said.

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