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XenServer Now Fully an Open Source Project

Citrix also simplifies licensing for the commercial version that it will continue to sell and support.

Citrix Systems Inc. in June took the latest step in its open source onslaught by throwing its XenServer hypervisor platform into the mix. The move offers an affordable alternative to virtualization suites from Microsoft Hyper-V (which is starting to gain appeal with the latest version released last fall) and VMware hypervisor and cloud management platforms.

Although parts of Citrix XenServer were already open source, the company released the entire product to the community via xenserver.org. The new XenServer 6.2 release, which boasts substantial performance and scalability improvements, is the same software as the open source Xen, which Citrix released to the Linux Foundation back in April. The move is also consistent with the Citrix push to open source much of its intellectual property (IP), including last year's release of its CloudStack cloud compute platform to the Apache Foundation.

"We're making Citrix XenServer the commercially supported version of the open source [Xen] product," explained Krishna Subramanian, vice president of product marketing for the Citrix Cloud Platforms group. "There's nothing to change when you go from the open source version to the Citrix version. It's just a license key change."

Looking to broaden appeal for Citrix XenServer, the company is slashing the cost of subscribing to the pay version, which gives administrators support from Citrix. The entry fees are now $500 per socket, compared with an earlier initial cost of $2,500. Citrix is also now offering perpetual licenses starting at $1,250 per server. That provides all the features in its Platinum version, its highest level of support. The company is removing the SKUs providing all the features offered in Platinum, Subramanian said.

Subramanian said that there may be some negative impact on revenues for Citrix, but said that by lowering the cost of implementing the high-end version of its hypervisor platform, more shops will find it a viable option. Hence, she believes it will make up the loss by increased overall volume.

Scott Lindars, Citrix senior product marketing manager, noted that with more than 1 million downloads of the free Xen open source hypervisor platform, he believes many of those are prospects to now license Citrix XenServer, where in the past it may have been cost-prohibitive.

"We have that huge base that's already using free and will continue [to do so, but now] there's a compelling reason for them to think about moving to the paid version," Lindars said. "We see this as a big upsell opportunity and expect a groundswell of users going from free to paid."

Does Citrix believe this gives shops eyeing Microsoft Hyper-V (and its Cloud OS platform, which is tied to System Center 2012 and Windows Server 2012) a reason to reconsider? Subramanian noted Citrix considers Microsoft a key partner and the company supports Hyper-V, adding that 90 percent of common workloads are Windows-based. Those who want to use the complete Microsoft stack will go with Hyper-V, she said, while others who don't want to be tied to System Center will consider Citrix XenServer.

"This is not something we're positioning against Hyper-V," she said. "Most customers that use Hyper-V go with System Center and buy the full Microsoft management stack. Customers that don't want to do that and want to have an open orchestration and management platform that runs on a hypervisor, and they don't want to commit to a Microsoft stack, [will] still see value in XenServer."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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