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Citrix Syncs With Microsoft Hyper-V In Virtualization Push

VMware's relentless growth, reporting revenue of $1.3 billion last year, has brought the two allies even closer together.

Microsoft and Citrix Systems on Monday raised the stakes in their competition with virtualization market leader VMware.

Citrix will make its XenServer hypervisor, previously priced at $3,000 per server, available for free. It will sell two service packs, Citrix Essentials Enterprise and Essentials Platinum, that add virtual machine management capabilities on top of the hypervisor.

The $1,500 and $3,000 Citrix add-on service packs will work with Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor as well as Citrix XenServer, synchronizing the two companies' virtualization product lines.

Citrix is a longstanding partner of Microsoft's. Its Presentation Server (now renamed AppServer) was a high-performance form of Microsoft's technology for meeting the needs of hundreds of terminal users at a time. Microsoft includes code that works with AppServer in each version of Windows Server. But VMware's relentless growth, reporting revenue of $1.3 billion last year, has brought the two allies even closer together.

"This addresses a key need for us to get our product in use inside a wider customer base. ... With this move, we're going to dramatically change the competitive landscape," said Simon Crosby, CTO of the XenSource unit of Citrix Systems.

Citrix had previously sold 5,000 copies of XenServer, he said.

Crosby said the two companies' stance acknowledged that current economic distress might make market share more readily attainable. "Customers have little cash," Crosby noted; free XenServer and Hyper-V hypervisors will give them an incentive to realize data center savings with little up-front costs. They are then likely to become $1,500-a-year support contract customers or $1,500- or $3,000-per-license purchasers of the service packs.

Citrix made the announcement on eve of VMworld Europe, VMware's major European user group conference in Cannes, France. VMware has its own set of product announcements coming tomorrow.

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