Citrix Talks Xen Datacenter Upgrades at Synergy

Despite all of the buzz surrounding virtualization, Citrix believes that far too many companies don’t yet understand its abilities. “More than 75 percent of servers on the market are still not virtualized,” it said in a statement.

The company aims to change that with several new products and initiatives, including version 5.5 of its open source Citrix XenServer, version 5.5 of its premium Citrix Essentials product, a new virtualized appliance, and it announced integration with 20 storage partners and with Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology.

“The theme is transforming data centers into delivery centers,” said Wes Wasson, Citrix’s (NASDAQ: CTXS) chief marketing officer, speaking at a press event opening the Citrix Synergy conference in Las Vegas this week. “The faster our customers can get to virtualizing every server, the faster we can get to the real vision of the delivery center.”

Offering XenServer for free is key to that strategy, he added. “We’re offering it 100 percent free but we’re not crazy.”

He said that XenServer 5.5 has improved backup and search features and enables managers to get better information concerning virtual machines.

Taking a shot at the competition, he said, “we’ve made it simple to convert virtual machines from VMware to XenServer or between different open formats. We’re sending a message to the market that we are serious about the XenServer market.”

Wasson noted Microsoft’s Hyper is now free and that Citrix believes that the free XenServer and Hyper-V will be the fastest growing part of the virtualization market.

The news comes as the market leader in virtualization, VMware, unveiled an ambitious product road map that is anything
but free.

Of course, not everything Citrix announced is free. The new Citrix Essentials 5.5 uses the company’s new StorageLink technology to deliver integration with more than 20 storage vendors. “All too often there’s one administrator for virtual storage and one for non-virtual storage. Our breakthrough StorageLink technology changes that,” said Wasson.

Another big change is the release of a virtualized version of a high-end appliance. Citrix announced the NetScaler VPX, a virtualized version of the appliance, for general availability in the second half of this year. “The NetScaler MPX runs just about every high end Web site,” Wasson said. “Basically it’s a beast.”

Finally, the company announced an upgraded Enterprise License Program
(ELP) to better ensure that customers take advantage of the discount levels they have achieved.

The cloud

Citrix is making Citrix Cloud Center (C3) more enticing to customers. It announced an SPLA, a service provider licensing agreement. The agreement allows Citrix’s service provider partners to sell services on C3 and pay at the end of the month according to the total number of active users.

Wasson said Citrix is working with Amazon’s S3 storage service and EC2 cloud computing service to deliver a Citrix C3 Lab product but that the partnership is “in very early stages.”

He said that the goal, as with the free offer of XenServer, is to overcome resistance to adoption. “Most enterprise customers, when asked about linking public clouds to the corporate data center, get glazed eyes and scared rabbit type looks. It seems new but they know the economics are enticing. We’re focused on providing enterprise customers with low cost, easy ways to start testing cloud-based services.”

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