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10/24/2007
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XenSource Founder Outlines Virtualization's Road Map At Interop

Simon Crosby hints at how his group at Citrix will spread hypervisors everywhere with the help of partnerships with Amazon.com, Dell, Microsoft, and Symantec.

XenSource, which this summer was acquired by Citrix Systems for $500 million, shared its vision for the future of virtualization at the Wednesday morning keynote of the Interop show in New York City.




Simon Crosby, CTO and founder of XenSource.
(click for image gallery)

When XenSource founder and CTO Simon Crosby first took the stage, he made sure to point out to the audience that XenSource is the exact opposite of VMware, since the company's goal is to deliver virtualization everywhere. "We want virtualization to be a component of the enterprise IT stack," Crosby said.

XenSource took the first step toward its vision in 2005 when the company introduced its Xen product, commoditizing the hypervisor -- a virtualization platform that allows multiple operating systems to run on a host computer at the same time.

Step two is hardware-assisted virtualization. In 2007, the most profound change happens when the hypervisor is embedded in hardware, said Crosby. XenSource in September rolled out its XenExpress OEM Edition, an embedded virtualization platform targeted at server vendors and other original equipment manufacturers. It allows manufacturers to include a full virtualization platform as an integrated component of every server, pre-installed in system flash or on the hard disk.

One of the largest implementations of Xen was carried out by Amazon.com. Amazon has thousands of servers running Xen, addressing issues of server consolidation and workload management.

One of the biggest opportunities for virtualization is being able to manage platform complexity and input/output operations for all different types of operating systems once in the hypervisor.

Step three is creating an open management architecture to deliver virtualization component-wide into the IT stack without displacing existing management practices, products, or procedures.

"Unlike VMware, we have the platform building block for driving virtual machines with open [Application Program Interfaces] and an open management architecture. We have key partners like Symantec and Microsoft working with us in the space," said Crosby. With the completion of Citrix's acquisition of XenSource this week, the companies are offering two new products based on the Xen hypervisor, Citrix XenServer and Citrix XenDesktop. Citrix XenServer is the repackaged Xen hypervisor for creating virtual machines on servers. Crosby said there are currently 25,000 XenServers in production and 40 to 50 customers signing up each week.

The first industry deal came from Dell, which this week adopted the XenServer OEM Edition. Dell will provide the XenServer across Dell's PowerEdge server line in the coming year, introducing built-in, easy-to-use virtual machine installation and management to millions of global Dell customers.

As a small company with a large influence, XenSource sees being acquired by Citrix as a positive step. The company used to have 350 channel partners and that has grown to 5,000 with Citrix. Additionally, XenSource has more scale in terms of resources.

Crosby said there's a lot more to come from the companies' collaborative efforts: "Virtualization will profoundly transform IT. Virtual machines are more reliable than physical machines. The hypervisor will be included in every server. There are powerful image management and storage technologies on the horizon. And then there's the client... that's all I'm going to say for now."

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