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Virtually Speaking: Citrix Lays a Foundation

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Feb 12, 2008


Citrix removed any lingering doubts as to its commitment to being a virtualization player on Monday when it unveiled new products and brand repackaging.

The newest virtualization vendor on the block laid out its virtual infrastructure options and announced some new products.

With this announcement, it is, "upping Xen brand to show its emphasis on virtualization," Mick Hollison, vice president of product management for the Desktop Delivery Group, told ServerWatch.

Citrix XenServer 4.1 and Citrix XenServer Platinum Edition are the first releases to the server virtualization product line since Citrix's acquisition of XenSource was completed in fourth quarter of last year.

Citrix XenServer Standard edition will offer enhanced scalability, faster performance and basic automation capabilities, such as the capability to conduct live virtual infrastructure platform upgrades and automated patching. It also adds support for NIC bonding, 10Gb/s networking, and 64-bit enterprise Linux guests as well as XenApp-specific optimization. The company claims 50 new enhancements, in all, covering ease-of-use, performance and increased support for enterprise storage systems.

XenServer Platinum Edition will take it up a notch higher. XenSource CTO Simon Crosby described the offering to ServerWatch as a "Virtual Infrastructure 3 category product." It will offer resource pooling capabilities as well as licenses for three boxes running Citrix's Provisioning Server.

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Provisioning Server will feature Citrix's Provisioning Server capabilities that enable dynamic provisioning "for all servers, whether virtual or not." It thus "brings the benefits of virtualization to native servers," Crosby said. Provisioning Server captures, encapsulates and returns a response to a user's device or preference.

XenServer Platinum Edition, Crosby said, is essentially "a bundling for purposes of pricing" (e.g., as a stand-alone product, Provisioning Server is priced at $5,000).

Virtual Blueprint

In addition to the XenServer release, and as a proof-point of its commitment to becoming a virtualization company, Xen took the wraps off the blueprint of a virtual ecosystem that will span several types of virtualization: desktop, server and application, as well as the workflow processes behind it.

The Citrix Delivery Center will be the wrapper that envelops four product lines, Hollison said. Within that sit four major product lines: XenDesktop, XenServer, XenApp (formerly Presentation Server) and Net Scaler.

All four product lines will feature Standard, Enterprise and Platinum editions, with increasing levels of functionality and services in each. Customers will also have the option of buying in at one level and adding functionality a la cart, although is more economical to do so at the package level, Hollison said, likening the editions to car models within lines.

Although enterprises can pick and choose products for the Citrix Delivery Center buffet-style, the company would obviously prefer they standardize on Xen offerings. Therefore, an orchestration layer between the four products was needed, Hollison said.

Cirtix Workflow Studio, a graphical, script-free tool, fills this gap. Hollison noted that, "this is not a systems management play. Rather, it's about policy-based automation and orchestration. We will continue to work with Microsoft, Tivoli and others."

Availability

Citrix XenServer 4.1 is currently available as a public beta from the Citrix Web site. It's expected to be generally available in March. Citrix XenServer Platinum Edition is slated for a second-quarter release. Pricing will start at $900 for the Standard edition, $3,000 for Enterprise Edition and $5,000 for Platinum Edition (assuming 2 CPU socket systems in all cases).

Cirtix Workflow Studio will be available second quarter as well.

XenApp, which Hollison described as a repackaging exercise of Presentation Server, is available now. No changes have been made to it. XenDesktop is also currently available, with a Platinum Edition scheduled for release in second quarter.

Provisioning Server for Data Centers, a key component of XenServer Platinum Edition, is currently available in version 4.5. Version 5.0 is scheduled for release in second quarter.

Citrix has wasted no time in integrating the Xen world into its own. Building its virtual world around Xen is a clear way to build an infrastructure that will be, as Crosby said, the virtualization brand Citrix will "hang their hat from." Hopefully, enterprises will want to hang their apparel from it as well.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering virtualization since 2001.

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