XenSource Inks OEM Agreement with Dell

Dell plans to embed the Citrix XenServer software suite across its line of PowerEdge servers.

Dell is bundling XenSources open-source virtualization technology across its line of PowerEdge servers, which will give the systems makers customers an alternative to VMwares ESX Server and Virtual Infrastructure suite.

The two companies will offer details of the agreement at Citrixs iForum conference Oct. 23. Earlier in 2007, Citrix Systems announced that it would buy XenSource, whose founders helped develop the open-source Xen hypervisor, for $500 million. The move will help make Citrix a significant player in the virtualization space.

At the iForum conference, Citrix announced Citrix XenServer, the rebranded version of the XenEnterprise suite, which will be the virtualization platform that Dell bundles with its PowerEdge servers. Dell will not begin shipping servers with this bundled virtualization suite until the first quarter of 2008.


Citrix is introducing a number of XenSource products. Click here to read more.

The bundling of the XenServer suite on Dell servers gives customers an option when deciding to deploy virtualization technology in a data center. Although virtualization is considered one of the most important developments in IT in years, few companies outside of the Fortune 500 have tried a wide-scale deployment because the software is usually a separate purchase and it has required a significant investment to understand how the technology works.

A Forrester Research study of 211 North American and European businesses found that 29 percent of enterprises and midmarket companies have been deploying virtualization for less than a year, while 23 percent have been using some sort of virtualization for only a year.

Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said Dell is trying to open the door for more companies to use virtualization by bundling the technology with the hardware, much like an operating system or management tools. The bundling move and integration with Dells OpenManage management suite could also help Dell position itself as a significant virtualization vendor, he said.

"In the x86 space, virtualization has really shown itself to be a valuable tool and a lot of companies are looking to make it part of their business strategy and these companies are asking server vendors about it," King said. "Simply bundling it [with] the hardware make a lot of sense."

At the VMworld conference in September, Dell announced that it would be one of several OEMs to bundle VMwares ESX Server 3i hypervisor with servers later in 2007. The ESX Server 3i is small enough to be carried on a flash chip and is a bare-metal hypervisor that can partition a physical server into multiple virtual machines.


To read about updates to the Xen hypervisor, click here.

Dell has had a longstanding relationship with Citrix—earlier in October the two companies announced a "streaming" desktop solution that will use Citrix software to stream operating systems and applications to Dell desktops. That partnership helped bring the XenSource virtualization software to Dells hardware.

"Being a partner with Dell is very profound for us and after this comes to market, there will be no more doubters that XenServer is not enterprise-ready," said Simon Crosby, chief technology officer at XenSource, in Palo Alto, Calif.


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