Citrix, XenSource will benefit users

Citrix acquired XenSource Wednesday for US$500 million (AU$612.4 million). With the acquisition, Citrix will also acquire the virtualization talent of XenSource, among them CEO Peter Levine. Network World Senior Editor Deni Connor caught up with Levine Wednesday and talked about the acquisition and how the combination of Citrix' and XenSource's technologies will benefit customers going forward.

What is the benefit to the user of the Citrix/XenSource relationship?

We are positioned to deliver desktop to data center virtualization solutions. Citrix has been a leader in application delivery solutions for the Windows platform. Now, in coupling that with back-end server virtualization, we can provide to our customers leading edge desktop to data center solutions. The other part of this is that Citrix and XenSource have a very strategic and compatible relationship with Microsoft. One of the important things for our users to understand is that we do not compete with Microsoft as does VMware. We actually will embrace the Microsoft infrastructure and build products on top of Microsoft as well as building products on top of the Xen infrastructure. For users who want to have a choice -- either Xen-based solutions or Microsoft-based solutions -- the Citrix XenSource relationship is the vehicle to enable those combinations.

What tools will XenSource introduce that allow or enhance Windows virtualization?

It would be tools around shared storage, resource sharing, live migration, and management and application delivery.

That would be using either the Xen hypervisor or the Microsoft Viridian hypervisor?

Right now, if you look at our product, we provide all of those capabilities except application delivery, which Citrix delivers. We provide those capabilities on top of the Xen hypervisor. In the future, we will those same attributes, plus the Citrix capabilities, to be added to the Microsoft Viridian infrastructure.

You talk a lot of the relationship between Windows and XenSource and Citrix. What will become of XenSource's Linux virtualization platform?

We allow Windows and Linux to run on top of our platform. We put a particular emphasis on our Windows capabilities though because that's what most of our customers want. We will continue to run Linux on our platforms as well.

Looking forward to desktop virtualization, how do you see XenSource contributing?

When we think of desktop virtualization or application delivery to the desktop, one of the ways to have application delivery to the desktop is to host all of the machines back in the data center. Then when someone wants to use a customized version of their environment, you would unlock that virtual machine and its personality and bring it out to the desktop. In a sense, a lot of the desktop virtualization is about application and virtual machine delivery from a back-end server perspective. Where we come in there is by providing all of the underpinnings for that back-end virtualized infrastructure.

Sun, Red Hat and Novell have all said they will incorporate the open source Xen hypervisor into their operating system products. How does this commoditization of the virtualization market bode for Citrix and XenSource?

Think of the open source hypervisor as an engine. What we do at XenSource is provide the automobile around that engine -- we build all of the wheels, the steering wheel and the seats around the engine. There's a lot of work going from engine to automobile. When you say commoditization of the Xen platform, our guys invented Xen and gave it to the open source community. We already have commoditized Xen, so it's about the tools and services that are built on top of the engine that become the value-add that customers ultimately care about.

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