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Citrix runs interference for Microsoft

Tim Stammers | Nov. 2, 2009
Citrix hopes to bolster the uncertain prospects of the Xen hypervisor by making its free XenServer product entirely open source.

Citrix expects more from Hyper-V

Citrix and Microsoft have long been close partners. Thanks to an interoperability deal between the two, server management tools designed for XenServer also work with Hyper-V. This was a deliberate plan. Citrix has publicly predicted that eventually Hyper-V will outsell XenServer, and when this happens Citrixs tools will mostly be used with Microsofts platform. This raises two questions: if this is the future for XenServer, why did Citrix pay a whopping $500 million in 2007 to buy Xen pioneer XenSource, and why is Citrix still promoting Xen?

Xen blocks VMware to speed Hyper-V

XenSource underpins Citrixs strong prospects in what is likely to be a huge market for desktop virtualisation systems. Although those systems deliver applications to desktops, one of their important ingredients is server virtualisation software. With no such technology of its own, Citrix had to look for what was available. For the sake of credibility and control, it could not base its desktop software exclusively on VMwares server virtualisation software especially since VMware was set to become Citrixs strongest rival in desktop virtualisation. Nor could Citrix afford to wait for Microsoft to make Hyper-V competitive. Therefore it bought XenSource to gain control of Xen. Whether it paid the right price is another question.

Recently Citrix has been claiming that by giving away basic management tools within XenServer, and selling its more advanced tools cheaply, it has made a $300 million dent in VMwares revenues. That has done little to boost Citrixs own server virtualisation revenues, which were just $5.5 million in the last quarter. However, it has brought forward the day when Hyper-V will be a big presence and when Microsoft and Citrix together will pose an even greater challenge to VMware.

Timothy Stammers is senior analyst at Ovum.


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