XenSource Co-Founder Ready to Take On VMware

Simon Crosby, co-founder of XenSource, says the recent acquisition by Citrix will help bring his company's open-source virtualization technology to more customers.

NEW YORK—XenSource believes that its ready to challenge VMware.

At the Ziff Davis Enterprise 2007 Virtualization Summit Oct. 24, Simon Crosby, a founder of XenSource, told the audience that the open-source virtualization company is ready to bring the technology to a much wider audience and ready to challenge VMwares dominance within the x86 virtualization market. (Ziff Davis Enterprise is the publisher of eWEEK).

Founded in 2004 by some of the same researchers who helped develop the open-source Xen hypervisor, XenSource is now part of Citrix, which bought the Palo Alto, Calif., company in August for $500 million. Simon, now the chief technology officer of Citrixs virtualization division, said XenSources technology is poised to bring real competition to a space dominated by VMware and its ESX hypervisor.

Crosby sees two developments that will help this vision. The first is the Citrix acquisition, which will boost the number of channel partners selling XenSources virtualization suite from about 350 to more than 5,000. The next, and more important, factor is that customers are looking for additional choice when it comes to virtualization.

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To provide that choice, Crosby said he wants to embed the hypervisor and supporting software within the BIOS of the hardware itself. A part of that plan began this week when Dell announced that it would begin embedding the XenSource product within its PowerEdge server in the first quarter of 2008.

"I want virtualization to be part of every machine out there," Crosby said. "I want it in the BIOS."

The ultimate goal, Crosby said, is to commoditize the hypervisor, whether its the Xen hypervisor or another, to the point where the software ships with the servers from the factory to the customer. To an extent, this is already happening. At the 2007 VMworld conference in September, CEO Diana Greene announced the ESX Server 3i, a version of the hypervisor than can fit onto flash chip, which can then ship with the server. In addition, Virtual Iron, another company looking to gain market share by offering a low-cost virtualization suite, has signed agreement with IBM and HP to bundle its solution with their systems.

"What we like to say is that we have virtualized the engine to allow it to run on any type of platform, with the real value coming from the user," Crosby said.

Analysts believe that only about 5 percent of the potential virtualization market has been penetrated so far. In the coming years, Crosby said the technology will provide better disaster recovery solutions by allowing enterprises to recreate whole data centers in secure virtual environments.

The other area for improvement is on the client side, where Crosby said Citrix and XenSource will deliver their first product—called Citrix XenDesktop—next year, which will combine a virtualized infrastructure with application delivery.

"What it will mean for a customer is that instead of having 25,000 clients across to manage, they now have 25,000 all contained within the one data center," Crosby said.

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