Windows Gets More Xen

VMware has long held a dominant position on Windows servers as the virtualization technology of choice. Rival XenSource has its eye on VMWare’s share of that pie.

The open source virtualization provider went for a bigger slice of the Windows virtualization market with its XenEnterprise for Windows release today.

XenEnterprise for Windows builds on XenSource’s XenEnterprise for Linux, which has been in the market since late August. It also builds on a partnership with Microsoft that it struck in July.

What XenEnterprise does is provide an easy installation of the Xen open source hypervisor, as well as management and configuration interfaces. The Xen open source hypervisor is already part of several Linux distributions, such as Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Red Hat’s Fedora Core with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. Sun Solaris is expected to follow suit soon.

In an interview with, John Bara, vice president of marketing at XenSource, wasted no time taking aim at VMware as key competition on Windows.

“VMware has done a great job with the early adopters and about 5 percent of x86 servers are now virtualized,” Bara said. “We’re looking to go after the rest of the market.”

A partnership with Microsoft doesn’t hurt. On that part, Xen is aglow. “Microsoft has committed to supporting XenEnterprise, so when their customers are running Windows within XenEnterprise they will receive Microsoft support, which is a great commitment,” he said.

“What we are doing with Microsoft for Microsoft is the interoperability technology to allow Linux and Windows Longhorn to work together,” Bara added. “I think that is a very strategic position for XenSource long term.”

Though Xen is perhaps best known for its work in the Linux space, Bara noted that XenSource isn’t really pushing XenEnterprise for Linux users.

Bara noted that since the soft launch of XenEnterprise for Linux , XenSource has acquired 30 to 40 customers that have paid for the offering.

“The Linux-only segment is a segment we target through our partners, Novell and Red Hat,” Bara said. “Xen is embedded in SLES 10 and RHEL 5. In multi-os and Windows [environments], that’s really our space for XenEnterprise.”

According to Bara, XenSource already has lined up 1,500 companies for the beta of the XenEnterprise for Windows product. The product is expected to be generally available in December of this year.

XenSource is also ramping up its Virtual appliance efforts, thanks in part to a partnership with appliance vendor rPath.

In addition to VMware images, rPath will now enable its developer and ISV community to produce virtual images for Xen.

“Our vision is to seed the market with XenEnterprise as the razor handle,” Bara said, referring to the business model of selling razor blades. Bara said Xen is content to see other players play that role in the market through “management partnerships we’re establishing with management vendors.”

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