HP Embeds Citrix XenServer in ProLiant Systems

The agreement with Citrix gives the OEM another out-of-the-box virtualization package to complement its recent agreement with VMware.

Hewlett-Packard is adding another virtualization option to its line of ProLiant systems.

Company officials announced March 19 that they will begin embedding a co-developed version of Citrix's XenServer virtualization software into 10 different ProLiant systems starting March 31. They also have developed a set of management tools that will create and control the various virtual environments.

The embedded Citrix XenServer hypervisor, which is only 366KB, is stored in the system's internal flash memory and will boot up along with the hardware when the server is first installed. HP and Citrix will also sell the hypervisor in a USB drive for those customers who want to retrofit older ProLiant servers with the virtualization technology.

The deal with Citrix follows a similar agreement that HP struck last month with VMware, the largest of the x86 virtualization vendors, which will embed the ESX 3i hypervisor across the ProLiant line, giving customers a much easier way to access virtualization. The move might also appeal to midmarket and small-business users who are interested in the technology but lack the IT know-how to get started.

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The ESX 3i, much like the Citrix XenServer, sits directly on the hardware and allows a user to easily partition the system. At 32MB, the 3i is larger than its counterpart, although both reside within flash memory.

At its European customer conference in Barcelona, Spain, March 17, HP also announced a range of new services and software that look to make deploying virtualization across the data center much more practical. One offering, Virtual Server Environment, works with any hypervisor and allows the IT department to pool resources across the data center.

Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT, sees the recent announcements of embedded virtualization from Citrix (which entered the virtualization market in 2007 by acquiring XenSource) and VMware as a reaction to the upcoming Hyper-V virtualization option that Microsoft will offer with Windows Server 2008.

"The sense I get is that there is a firm belief from the folks in these firms that the hypervisor embedded in the operating system gives an extra competitive advantage to Microsoft," King said. "Having options, such as the ones VMware and Citrix are beginning to offer, ensures that they will have parity, if not superiority, when the Hyper-V product finally comes to the market."