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Citrix Enters Embedded Arena

The embedded hypervisor arms race is heating up. The latest company to join in is Citrix, announcing an embedded version of its hypervisor, Citrix XenServer HP Select Edition, in (you guessed it) select HP ProLiant servers.

XenServer is Citrix's standard, enterprise-class hypervisor, built on the the open source Xen platform. The Select Edition is a stripped-down version of XenServer, tuned to work with the ProLiant brand. It also provides an easy upgrade path to the full version of XenServer for organizations.

You may recall that Citrix bought what was then XenSource last year for a cool half-billion dollars. Since then, Citrix has been extremely aggressive in building its virtualization portfolio. XenSource was renamed XenServer, Presentation Server was renamed XenApp, and a suite of end-to-end virtualization products, called Citrix Delivery Center, was unveiled. That's a lot for the first few months of 2008.

Embedded hypervisors have suddenly become very important in the virtualization community. There's a fight afoot for market share, with everyone trying to horn in on VMware's business, and one way to do that is to give admins built-in virtualization functionality; something they can try right out of the box. Microsoft, of course, has done it with Hyper-V, which is bundled with Windows Server 2008 (64-bit editions only).

But they all still trail VMware, which made the first big splash in the embedded arena with an announcement that it had secured embedded hypervisor deals with IBM, Dell, Fujistu-Siemens -- and HP. They are embedding a lightweight version of ESX Server, called ESX 3i, into the servers. So HP is becoming a server OEM pioneer in virtualization, giving customers a choice of which embedded hypervisor they want. It's smart business for HP, and you can bet we'll see the other big hardware manufacturers doing similar things.

Xen has been embedded in various flavors of Linux for years, so the ultra-geek admin crowd -- you know, the ones who love command-line interfaces -- have had access to a hypervisor for a long time. But Citrix is going a serious step beyond that with this announcement. You don't need to have Linux to use XenServer, or even be a CLI dweeb; Simon Crosby, CTO of the Virtualization and Management Division at Citrix, implied in a video announcement that XenServer Select will have a graphical management UI, something missing in its VMware competitor. That may appeal to Windows admins, the majority of whom prefer clicking to typing.

Citrix says that XenServer Select will be available and supported on March 31. No price was listed.

Posted by Keith Ward on 03/20/2008 at 12:48 PM


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