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XenSource Stretches with Dell, HP Deals

Clearly Citrix didn't buy XenSource for $500 million in August to have the provider of virtualization solutions plod along. The company is moving quickly to expand its distribution, inking deals with Dell and HP today to significantly expand it enterprise reach. A number of other XenSource announcements were made this week by Citrix at its iForum user conference.

"We went from a thousand commercial customers and 300 resellers to 200,000 customers worldwide and 5,000 resellers [since being bought by Citrix], so the scale is mind-boggling," said John Bara, chief operating officer for the virtualization and management division at Citrix. He also noted that with the Dell and HP deals, XenSource is now potentially available to over half the server market.

The Dell deal will give buyers the option of getting any of Dell's line of PowerEdge servers with an embedded version of the Citrix XenServer OEM edition. The embedded option is slated for availability in the first quarter of 2008. Dell already sells XenServer virtualization software and is also the biggest reseller of market leader VMware's virtualization line.

"We're talking about making it easier for customer to deploy either virtualization technology and simplifying IT," Judy Chavis, director of Dell's Software/Solutions, told InternetNews.com. "VMware is the market leader but customers are also asking for alternatives. When Microsoft delivers its solution later next year, we'll offer that too."

Chavis added that she didn't think there was a big difference in functionality between XenSource and VMware but that the buying decision would come down to what companies either already were using or which one they concluded offered the best price/performance. In the case of embedding XenSource, she noted Dell becomes responsible for supporting the software as well as its own hardware. There are plans to offer an embedded version of VMware in the future.

Bara said Citrix is offering the embedded version of XenSource to OEMs at very low cost to help expose more users to virtualization. The embedded version lets companies consolidate several servers as Virtual Machines onto one system. A Dell spokesman said the company has not yet determined what the incremental cost for the embedded version of XenSource will be.

To get expanded capabilities, including live migration and management tools, customers will need to upgrade to the full XenServer Enterprise Edition, already available, which can be done online by license key. Pricing for Citrix XenServer Enterprise Edition 4 starts at $1,599 for an annual subscription license per dual socket server, and $2,499 perpetual license per dual socket server.

The HP announcement is that the computer company has agreed to qualify and sell the Citrix XenServer Enterprise Edition on its Proliant and BladeSystem servers. The latest Enterprise Edition 4 version includes XenMotion for live migration of running virtual machines; XenCenter, a scalable virtual infrastructure management framework integrated into every host and an open API for add-on software development. EE4's 64-bit hypervisor  supports both 32- and 64-bit enterprise workloads.

Bara said Citrix is "not precluding" an embedded deal with HP, similar to the one it just inked with Dell, in the future.