RealTime IT News

Citrix, Virtual Iron Duke It Out

A war of words has erupted between two bitter opponents in the Xen open source-based hypervisor market. Citrix, which owns XenSource and drives the Xen project, has insulted arch-rival Virtual Iron, saying, among other things, that it owns the hypervisor while Virtual Iron just consumes the product.

This fired up Virtual Iron's chief strategy officer Tony Asaro, who slapped back by saying Citrix chief technology officer Simon Crosby is out of line because Virtual Iron has been a substantial contributor to the Xen project and Xen belongs to the open source community.

A fuming Asaro told InternetNews.com "the dangerous thing Simon said is that Citrix owns the hypervisor. That's wrong; Citrix bought Xen and sells the Citrix commercial product and are the drivers or owners of the open source project, but it's the community that works on open source."

Crosby's "irresponsible statement about the open source community is counter to the philosophy of open source which he's the biggest proponent of," Asaro added. He dismissed another Crosbie comment, that Citrix is stronger in the storage area, saying Virtual Iron supports iSCSI and Fiber Channel, but doesn't use Symantec's Veritas host-based file system which runs on Citrix, "because we serve small and medium enterprises and they don't have a need for that."

Analysts and observers think it's all a storm in a teacup. "It's true that Citrix owns XenSource, which is the keeper of the code, but Virtual Iron can do what they need to do down to the code level," Andi Mann, research director at Enterprise Management Associates, told InternetNews.com.

"I like Simon, but he's one to stir up emotions, and has slapfights with all sorts of people," Mann added.

Both parties are talking past each other, Kevin Epstein, vice president of marketing for Scalent Systems told InternetNews.com. "Simon's saying there's a bunch of features they don't have that Citrix has, and Virtual Iron's saying 'We don't have those features but they're irrelevant to our market'," he said.

"In defense of Virtual Iron, different players will occupy different points in any business segment, but if you ask people at large who they think of when it comes to virtual machines, they'll say VMware, XenSource and Microsoft," Epstein added.

The real back story is that both parties are fighting over market recognition, IDC analyst Stephen Elliott told InternetNews.com. And things might change drastically for Citrix.

"Increasingly, what matters is which vendor has the marketing, channel and partner support to get into accounts at the right price point," Elliott said. "Virtual Iron is still struggling to get known and get out of the small vendor perspective, and Citrix will likely be faced with a major strategic decision about XenServer as Microsoft provides a key and large revenue channel for the company."

Crosby made his comments in an interview for a magazine article, and was unavailable for comment by press time.