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Citrix aims at mobile ops with Bytemobile buy

Thu, 06/07/2012 - 2:06pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Citrix has acquired mobile video optimization provider Bytemobile. The deal is designed to give Citrix access to Bytemobile’s potentially lucrative customer base of 130 mobile operators in 60 countries.

Bytemobile provides carriers with equipment and services to help them reduce the impact of data-intensive traffic, mainly video, on networks. Citrix, which specializes in enterprise mobility and cloud services for businesses, plans to piggyback Bytemobile's relationships to get its gear into mobile operators’ networks.

"This significantly enhances our overall presence in that business and gives us a key foothold as we address that space," CMO Wes Wasson said during a call with reporters, referring to wireless providers. Bytemobile's technology will give Citrix a "clear leg up on our competition," he said.

Wasson said the purchase of Bytemobile gave it capabilities that could otherwise only have been acquired through multiple transactions with niche providers.

Citrix is entering the wireless market at a time when operators are grappling with massive amounts of data traffic generated by smartphones and tablets. The company is betting on being able to sell carriers its load balancing equipment as they buy new gear to add capacity to networks.

Wasson said Citrix and Bytemobile are "actively pursuing further engagement" with top-tier providers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Bytemobile's current U.S. customers include Cricket Communications and MetroPCS.

The company plans to package its NetScaler application delivery controller with Bytemobile's optimization gear as a combined solution, allowing operators to cut down on the number of vendors they have to go to for traffic management products.

Bytemobile and Citrix have already rolled out a product for wireless operators under an existing relationship announced in February at Mobile World Congress. Bytemobile's T1100, powered by Citrix NetScaler, has "already been extremely well received by customers," Bytemobile COO Chris Koopman said.

Financial terms of the deal were not announced. The transaction is expected to close next month, Citrix executives said. In the company's formal announcement, it listed a more general third-quarter closing date for the merger. Bytemobile will form the new service provider platforms group led by Koopman under the Citrix cloud networking division.

In an interview, Koopman explained that Citrix’s NetScaler equipment could find a home anywhere in an operator’s network that requires application delivery controllers, sometimes referred to as load balancers.

Skyfire, a start-up that competes with Bytemobile, said that Citrix’s most difficult task could be scaling its enterprise-grade equipment to meet the needs of wireless operators.

“I think it will be an opportunity, but also a challenge, for products like NetScaler to satisfy carrier-grade requirements,” CEO Jeff Glueck told Wireless Week.

The Bytemobile transaction comes less than a month after Allot Communications closed its purchase of video optimization provider Ortiva Wireless, a harbinger of further consolidation in the video optimization space.

"It's crystal clear to us at Citrix that if you want to play in this broader trend in the cloud era … you have to have a key presence in the mobile network operator market," Wasson said when asked about the Ortiva transaction. "I would not be surprised to see others thinking the same way."

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