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Citrix acquisition of Sapho has legroom for integration

Citrix customers will get new capabilities around simplifying common business workflows with the company's latest acquisition, which could bear fruit in a number of areas.

The Citrix acquisition of Sapho improves workflow capabilities and analytics in the company's Workspace tool.

Citrix this week acquired Sapho, a micro app provider and development platform, for $200 million to integrate Sapho's workflow technology into Citrix Workspace, which became generally available in August. Citrix Workspace provides users access to all of their SaaS, web, mobile and virtual apps in one place, with security and management policies controlled by IT.

Sapho's apps provide workflow features and integrations that enable users to efficiently navigate through common tasks that require standardized processes, such as approvals or performance reviews. Sapho initially focused on mobile apps, but branched out into desktop integrations with Windows 10 earlier this year.

Together, Sapho and Workspace aim to combine a user's typical workflows into feeds and present personalized common tasks. Sapho could also feed more analytics into Citrix's tool, such as contextual elements, to generate alerts when tasks are pending or due.

"That's something that no one else has really thought ahead about a way to integrate," said Eric Klein, director of mobile software at VDC Research in Natick, Mass. "These are the huge opportunities for workflows."

Citrix's security capabilities will be a critical part of IT's ability to manage not just these workflow apps, but also specific files and data that users access, said Jack Gold, president and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates in Northborough, Mass.

"That's a prime area for Citrix to expand into Sapho, to talk about document and file flows and the ability to move information around [securely]," he said. "Citrix now can become the core management environment for documents and data."

Sapho expands Workspace collaboration appeal

As a first step, Citrix will provide between 50 and 75 of Sapho's micro workflow apps that are commonly used in the enterprise, such as Concur and Workday, in Workspace, said Tim Minahan, chief marketing officer at Citrix.

However, there are plenty of uses for Sapho in Citrix Workspace beyond just the workflow capabilities, VDC's Klein said.

"It's going to appear in a lot more elements of the workspace," he said. "It can be a very differentiating capability that they can provide to their customers."

One such area is to provide company intranets through Workspace to raise employees' awareness of what their colleagues are doing, Klein said.

"Sapho can really go a long way to get that content out in a better way," he said. "The intranet has always been another place you have to go. But, in this case, it won't be."

Citrix also plans to add more APIs to some of the most commonly used apps and improve the developer tools, so organizations can develop micro apps for customized business applications, Minahan said. Citrix could potentially use Sapho's development technology in other areas of the company's portfolio, Gold said.

Clock's ticking for Citrix-Sapho integration

The Citrix acquisition of Sapho follows VMware's release in March of Mobile Flows, which allows users to funnel common workflow tasks through VMware's Boxer email app. Several mobile app development companies, including Sapho, partnered with VMware to provide additional capabilities for Mobile Flows; it isn't likely the VMware partnership will continue in the wake of Sapho's Citrix acquisition.

The acquisition made sense to Citrix because nearly all of Sapho's customers are also customers of Citrix.

"We have almost 100% overlap, so [Sapho customers] will be able to continue to utilize both side by side, and we'll be working with them to make it more seamless to integrate within the workspace," Minahan said.

Citrix has not yet determined how Sapho will fit into Workspace licensing, but expects full integration will be available to customers by mid-2019. That means the proof will be in the pudding at the upcoming Synergy show in May 2019, Gold said.

"That's when they'll have to show all of this stuff working together," he said.

Site editors Eddie Lockhart and Erica Mixon contributed to this report.

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