Citrix Systems rolled out a new Express Edition of its Citrix Essentials for Microsoft Hyper-V on July 13. Designed to help IT administrators adopting Hyper-V, the application includes Citrix StorageLink, which streamlines the storage management process for Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and System Center.
In addition, the free application allows administrators to leverage storage-based features such as deduplication, thin provisioning, cloning and replication. In theory, the use of StorageLink will allow those utilizing Hyper-V to reduce their storage footprint by as much as 50 percent. Citrix claims that, for environments with highly duplicated virtual machines, StorageLink will reduce the storage consumption footprint by nearly 90 percent.
Citrix has been putting emphasis on its free products lately. In June, the company released XenServer 5.5, a cloud-based virtualization platform with features such as consolidated backup, Active Directory integration and search tools. In the case of XenServer, Citrix's use of "free" was part of a strategy intended to accelerate the rate of virtualization adoption within the market.
"Traditionally, the overwhelming majority of server virtualization implementations have aggregated VMs into a single file system, preventing a large percentage of applications from being virtualized due to inadequate performance and stability," Gordon Mangione, vice president of Citrix's virtualization and management division, said in a statement. "With Essentials for Hyper-V, customers can take advantage of the storage systems they already have."
While the Express Edition of the application can be used with one or two Hyper-V servers with connectivity to a single iSCSI or Fibre Channel storage array, IT administrators with three or more Hyper-V servers under management will need to upgrade to (and pay for) the company's Enterprise Edition or Platinum Edition. While Citrix Essentials will be compatible with the release of Windows Server 2008 R2, XenServer environments cannot be managed with the Express Edition.
Along with VMware, Microsoft and other companies, Citrix has been racing to define the enterprise's virtual infrastructure. Its other products, including Citrix Access Gateway 8.1 and Citrix Delivery Center, have allowed IT administrators to create VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) that allows desktop images to be streamed from data centers either on premises or in another location.
Citrix timed its announcement of the Express Edition of Citrix Essentials for Microsoft Hyper-V to coincide with the start of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans, which is running from July 13 to 16. In addition to high-profile speakers such as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, WPC will feature demonstrations of a variety of Microsoft flagship products including Windows 7, Windows Mobile 6.5, Office 2010 and Windows Server 2008.
Perhaps the most highlighted aspect of Windows Server 2008 has been Hyper-V, which Microsoft has positioned as a competitive alternative to offerings from VMware and other companies.