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XenServer 6.0 Beta Available Free

It wasn't all that long ago that XenServer was on the ropes and headed for what many observers figured to be a career-ending knockout at the hands of VMware, but Citrix made a smart move by converting its beleaguered server virtualization product into a fundamental component of XenDesktop and XenApp, the latter of which is a mega cash cow to the tune of $1.5 billion-plus. Just for good measure, the company further enhanced the free XenServer by making it the foundation for the strategic direction of NetScaler, the company's app-delivery platform for Web apps and clouds.

Voila--from the doghouse to the penthouse in short order.

Now, as the free downloads continue rolling out, Citrix has announced XenServer 6.0 Beta, which is available gratis for download at mycitrix.com.(You'll need to have or start a mycitrix.com in order to take advantage of this right-priced offering.) You can also bone up on v6.0 this Thursday, July 7 at a live webinar.

Citrix is luring in beta users by telling them they will play a "critical role" by helping the product development team tweak v6.0 into top form before it becomes GA.

In this burgeoning age of simplification, Citrix has taken three notable steps with XenServer 6.0. They include simplifying the management infrastructure requirements for capabilities such as workload balancing, Citrix StorageLink--which enables virtual server infrastructures to leverage all the resources and functionality of existing storage systems--and Site Recovery.

On the architectural front, XenServer 6.0 is based on the Xen 4.1 hypervisor, and according to Citrix, the Open vSwitch (OVS) is now the default network stack for the product. The company also notes that OVS was first introduced in XenServer 5.6 FP1 as a post-install configuration option, and in this beta version is the "basis for the distributed virtual networking (DVS) features, NIC bonding improvements, and jumbo frames support."

XenServer 6.0 caters to the ever-expanding number of do-it-yourself users who are on the lookout for self-service and cloud-building tools by supplying its Self-Service Manager for private clouds. Self-Service Manager supports not only XenServer, but VMware vSphere (at least until the new vSphere 5.0 debuts very soon).

According to Citrix, "Self-Service Manager is easy to deploy and manage via a simple virtual appliance and web-based UI. It offers multi-tenant support for creating VM service catalogs used by delegated administrators to deploy and manage their own applications and resources."

V6.0 also jumps on the Microsoft System Center bandwagon by providing users with the ability to manage their XenServer hosts and VMs via the highly touted, but yet-to-be-released System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012. The value of this flexibility has yet to be proven, but given the close relationship between Citrix and Microsoft, it seems like a natural move. This integration will come with a "special supplemental pack" from Citrix.

XenDesktop users also stand to benefit from this rollout, as the company says XenServer 6.0 is the first release that includes HDX capabilities for optimal desktop virtualization. Specifically, Citrix notes that "a physical GPU can be assigned to a VM so the applications running in the guest can leverage GPU instructions, aka ‘GPU pass-thru.' This provides significant TCO benefits for the XenDesktop HDX 3D Pro technology used for delivery of CAD and other graphical applications via virtual desktops."

Other additions include guest OS support updates, a 1TB increase in host RAM support, and the localization of XenCenter into Japanese and Simplified Chinese. Also, Lab Manager has been superseded by Self-Service Manager, some StorageLink array support is being retired, and Site Recovery is no longer based on StorageLink.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 07/05/2011 at 12:48 PM


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