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.
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.”
HP Boosting Enterprise Portfolio
At the same time, HP is looking to boost its enterprise portfolio and is reaching out to form as many partnerships as it can in the virtualization market to offer a wide array of choices and options for customers, said King. HP’s main competitors-IBM and Dell-also have agreements for embedded virtualization with VMware, and King said those two companies will likely make similar agreements with Citrix as well.
Simon Crosby, chief technology officer of virtualization and management for Citrix, said the embedded hypervisor-officially called XenServer HP Select Edition-is the better way to deploy virtualization and pool resources, since HP provides management tools that are integrated with the virtualization technology.
“We believe that this is the right way to do virtualization-by building deeply into the heart of the server,” Crosby said.
In addition to working with HP’s Systems Insight Manager, the companies have developed a new interface called ProLiant Virtual Console to manage and control both the physical servers and the virtual machines. In addition, the ProLiant iVirtualization suite allows the user to create a virtual environment either on one server or as part of a more complex virtual server, application or hosted desktop environment.
Although the VMware 3i product also integrates with Insight Manager, Crosby said Citrix lets HP create the additional management tools to make it easier for IT staffers to create these virtual environments as well as make it easier to integrate. This allowed Citrix to focus on developing virtualization technology.
“The great thing is that HP has already built all of this stuff,” said Crosby. “HP already has products in the form of its VMM [Virtual Machine Manager], which has the ability to manage not only XenServer, but VMware and Microsoft as well.”
When it becomes available, the Citrix XenServer HP Select Edition will have a starting price of $299 for a basic package.