Citrix, Microsoft Aim to Corner Virtualization Market

Citrix Systems is rolling out a virtualization product called "Citrix Essentials" that integrates with Citrix XenServer virtualization and Microsoft's Hyper-V. Citrix Essentials reflects Citrix's increased attempt to wrest virtualization market share away from market leader VMware. This teaming of Microsoft and Citrix in the virtualization sphere adds another dimension to the 20-year relationship between the two software companies.

Citrix Systems is releasing a virtualization product called "Citrix Essentials" that integrates with its own XenServer hypervisor, as well as Microsoft's Hyper-V, and is designed to further position the company as the main challenger to VMware.

Citrix Essentials is crafted to make these hypervisors-the essential software that makes x86 virtualization possible-more manageable, scalable and flexible, the company said. Citrix announced its latest virtualization product Feb. 23.

Citrix also announced the decision to offer free licenses for XenServer, which is available in Express, Enterprise and Platinum editions.

"The Enterprise Edition becomes free; [the] complete virtualization standard platform is free-free to download and deploy, with free resource pooling," Simon Crosby, CTO of Citrix, stated during a presentation. "We make money not off XenServer, but off the advanced virtualization management."

Citrix argues that offering free XenServer licenses provides a substantial economic benefit to the enterprise, especially in a dour economic climate, by eliminating the bulk of entry costs associated with virtualization. Crosby asserted that free virtualization will make enterprises' entry into the realm of cloud computing a more realistic and affordable proposition.

Citrix has no plans to open-source its XenServer product, which will now be supported by Microsoft System Center.

Click here to read an eWEEK Labs review of XenDesktop 2.1.

The pairing with Microsoft on XenServer is part of what Citrix has code-named Project Encore, and effectively expands the two companies' 20-year relationship into the arena of application management. Under Project Encore, the partnership will be expanded from applications and desktops to servers, will center on a joint marketing strategy and will "add significant enterprise value" to Microsoft's Hyper-V, the companies said.

"Project Encore began almost immediately when XenSource was acquired," explained Crosby. "It has been about finding the core capabilities that will be built on Hyper-V."

Citrix Essentials for XenServer and Microsoft's Hyper-V is the "advanced virtualization management" for which customers will have to pay. Cost will range from $1,500 to $5,000 per server. Citrix Essentials will feature automated lab and life-cycle management and dynamic provisioning from single master images and will also include StorageLink technology that simplifies enterprise storage configuration and operation, workflow orchestration to automate common tasks, and advanced high availability and workload balancing.

Since its acquisition of XenSource in October 2007, Citrix has been making aggressive forays into the virtualization market as it looks to compete with the likes of VMware. On Jan. 21, Citrix and Intel announced a joint development agreement, centered on combining Intel's vPro with Citrix virtualization technology, including XenDesktop.

Citrix then followed up on Feb. 4 with the release of XenDesktop 3, virtualization software designed to handle both streamed and hosted desktops.