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Virtual Missile Hits VMWorld!

Free XenServer rocks the event . . .

Despite the early warnings Citrix has made a direct hit at VMWorld 2009, announcing enterprise-proven XenServer will now be free. The news seems to have been well received by IT shops looking for ways to save in the tough economic climate as well as by virtualization consultants expanding the options they can offer customers. Michael Goldstein, VP at LAN Associates, a VMware, Microsoft and Citrix Reseller that specializes in IT solutions for the legal industry said “ This move by Citrix is going to really shake things up. Unless the client is totally committed to VMware, we can now also offer credible virtualization options based on XenServer that make the ROI really compelling and probably get projects approved faster “

VMware as well as some skeptics in the industry immediately speculated about a shell game of features that were shuffled around and whether the offering was Enterprise worthy. The reality however is that the product now being offered is not a cripple “free” edition that requires other costly options to put into production. This product is based on the supported XenServer Enterprise edition including XenMotion similar to VMware’s vMotion plus XenCenter the easy to use but powerful management console and system that allows multiple servers to be managed centrally. Is this going to convince Enterprises already committed to VMware to change? Perhaps not all, but many IT shops looking to gain or expand the benefits of Virtualization but reluctant to spend the premium licensing fees required for VMware now have an option to consider without the risk or expense. The product is ready to test and deploy, with no premium upgrade required for production. 

For existing Citrix XenApp customers ( previously; Presentation Server, MetaFrame ) this should be welcome news as well. Most of these companies recognize the benefits of Server Virtualization but have been put-off by the heavy overhead of running XenApp on ESX with some reporting more than a 40% reduction in scalability. These companies now can freely deploy XenApp on XenServer with less than 10% overhead due to the optimized integration.

Does this mean Citrix is throwing in the towel and de-investing in virtualization? Not at all, according to Simon Crosby , Citrix Virtualization CTO. "This move is all about accelerating the adoption of virtualization by tearing down the barriers of cost and complexity that have been in place for far too long," said Simon Crosby, CTO of Citrix’s virtualization management division in a statement. "The faster we can help customer virtualize the millions of servers that remain unvirtualized today, the sooner they can start adding significant value on top, transforming static data centers into dynamic delivery centers where every application, desktop and server workload is delivered as an on-demand service.” The new Citrix Essentials for XenServer and Hyper-V offer value-add features like HA, Automation, and VM lifecycle management that many customers will want as they expand their virtual infrastructure. The Citrix investments will also continue and accelerate in areas like Cloud Infrastructure, Storage and Lab Management, as well as Desktop Virtualization where Citrix has been the established leader.

Attendee’s at VMWorld may need to take cover the rest of the week, it should be interesting to watch the damage control in action.

More Stories By Chris Fleck

Chris Fleck is Vice President of Mobility Solutions at Citrix Systems. Chris started his career at IBM working across multiple engineering and product organizations leading to Business Unit Exec of the IBM Industrial Computer Group. As a pioneer of new technologies, Chris founded an IBM spin-off to commercialize the initial Server Blade products as CEO of OmniCluster Technologies. At Citrix Chris is responsible for mobilty solutions and alliances. As part of the Citrix CTO Office he is also involved with or leading multiple strategic initiatives at the company. You can follow him on Twitter and his blog at TechInstigator.com

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