As XenServer goes free, new management tools are promised, and VMware gets another thorn in its side

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I may be a Microsoft MVP for Virtual Machine technology so my bias towards Hyper-V is pretty obvious (I’m also a VMware Certified Professional and I do try to remain fairly objective) but I did have to giggle when a colleague tipped me off this morning about some new developments at Citrix just as VMware are gearing up for next week’s VMworld Europe conference in Cannes.

Officially under embargo until next week (not an embargo that I’ve signed up to though), ZDNet is reporting that Citrix is to offer XenServer for free (XenServer is a commercial product based on the open source Xen project). From my standpoint, this is great news because Citrix and Microsoft already work very closely (Citrix developed the Linux integration for Hyper-V) and Citrix will be selling new management tools which will improve the management experience for both XenServer and Hyper-V but, in addition, Microsoft SCVMM will support XenServer (always expected, but never officially announced), meaning that SCVMM will further improve its position as a “manager of managers” and provide a single point of focus for managing all three of the major hypervisors.

VMware, of course, will respond and tell us that this is not simply a question of software cost (to some extent, they are correct, but many of the high-end features that they offer over the competition are just the icing on the top of the cake), that they have moved on from the hypervisor and how their cloud-centric Virtual Datacentre Operating System model will be the way forward. That may be so, but with server virtualisation now moving into mainstream computing environments and with Citrix and Microsoft already working closely together (along with Novelland now Red Hat), this is almost certainly not good news for VMware’s market dominance.

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