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XenSource To Launch XenEnterprise Next Week

The XenSource CEO says Xen may not be ready for all data center needs, but the open-source virtualization engine is ready to go.

XenSource next week plans to begin rolling out its XenEnterprise virtualization platform, CEO Peter Levine said Thursday at LinuxWorld.

In a keynote speech at the San Francisco conference, Levine also said XenSource will make XenEnterprise available exclusively through its two-tiered distribution model. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, a commercial spin-off of the Xen open-source project, recently had announced a robust channel program, a distribution partnership with Tech Data and plans to make its virtualization platform available only through partners.

When asked about the controversy between Novell and Red Hat over the market readiness of Xen, Levine said Xen may not be ready for all data center needs, but the open-source virtualization engine is ready for commercial deployment. XenEnterprise, for example, will be targeted at midmarket customers with deployments of five to 10 servers, he said.

XenSource will offer management APIs and open interfaces for third-party management tools, but the company won't develop its stack beyond that point, Levine said. The plan is to build a large ecosystem of partners, he noted.

"We're stopping at that level because we want to promote an ecosystem of vendors to support this architecture," Levine said. To that end, XenSource plans to launch an ISV program in October, he told the audience during his LinuxWorld address.

Levine -- a former Veritas Software executive who had no experience at an open-source company before joining XenSource in February -- also insisted XenSource's partnership with Microsoft does not run afoul of the principles of Xen as an open-source project. The collaboration will ensure that Linux runs as a "first-class guest" on Microsoft's Windows virtualization hypervisor, he said.

XenSource is helping Microsoft enable interoperability between the two platforms, not to build the Windows hypervisor, according to Levine. Customers will have two usage options: using a virtualization platform from XenSource or VMware, for example, or using it as an integrated operating system service in Novell and Red Hat Linux distributions and in Windows.

XenSource will release extension packs for Novell SUSE, Red Hat Linux, Sun Solaris, BSD and other Linux distributions that use Xen. It will also offer extension packs for Microsoft's Viridian hypervisor for the "Longhorn" Windows Server.

After the keynote, a number of attendees who approached Levine said they are deploying virtualization technology on IBM mainframes and urged XenSource to produce an implementation of Xen for zVM. Levine noted that IBM is working on the Xen virtualization engine in its labs.

Another attendee who spoke to Levine -- and donned a VMware shirt -- said Xen is not yet as robust as VMware, but he's keeping an eye on its development.

"We're not deploying Xen because of manageability issues," said Gene Reed, enterprise services planning and midrange technology consultant at Embarq, Warrensburg, Mo. "But we'll look at it when the time is right."

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