Citrix And Xen Take On VMWare In the Cloud


Citrix and are planning to roll out a strategy for a open-source cloud computing platform based on the Xen virtualisation hypervisor

Citrix Systems and are going to use the first day of VMware’s VMworld 2009 show to announce a plan to take on the virtualisation giant in the cloud.

Citrix and will announce that they will expand their reach beyond the Xen virtualisation hypervisor by developing a full-blown cloud computing platform that will rival VMware’s vCloud offering. The cloud platform will be the central focus of’s new charter.

Simon Crosby, CTO of Citrix’s Virtualization and Management Division, and Ian Pratt, chairman of, said in an interview that the goal of the Xen Cloud Platform is to create a cloud computing environment that virtualises everything, from servers to storage to networking devices, and that will run anyone’s virtualisation technologies, including VMware’s and Microsoft’s.

That last part is a key differentiator for Citrix and, given that VMware’s strategy is based more on building features that work best with its own products.

“What we’re offering is a richer model, with the flexibility of open source,” Crosby said. “With the richer cloud infrastructure, soon we all can start to [see] the advantages of cloud computing.”

Citrix and the will announce the plan on 31 Aug, the first day of VMworld, which runs through to 3 Sept in San Francisco.

The announcement will come amid reports that VMware officials have tried to limit the exposure of its largest rivals, Citrix and Microsoft, at the show. VMware is limiting those companies to 10-by-10-foot booths and requiring Citrix and Microsoft employees to stay within those boundaries.

A host of tech vendors, including Advanced Micro Devices, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, NetApp and Novell, reportedly are pushing the idea of an open-source cloud platform based on Xen, and Citrix is contributing its own code, including XenServer, a virtual switch and XenMotion, which enables easy movement of virtual machines between physical hosts, similar to VMware’s VMotion offering.

“A lot of vendors are contributing to Xen and participating in [the Xen Cloud Platform strategy],” Pratt said.

Citrix and will not be bringing new software for such tasks as management and orchestration, Crosby and Pratt said. Much of that will be supplied by organizations like the Globus Alliance and Eucalyptus, which already offer such capabilities.

Simon said the Xen Cloud Platform—the first features of which will start appearing in the fourth quarter—will have all the necessary features demanded by enterprises, such as multitenancy capabilities, security, encryption, shared storage, dynamic provisioning of cloud resources and a public API.

The platform also will offer users the ability to interoperate easily with public cloud computing platforms, such as those offered by Amazon with its EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and Rackspace with its Rackspace Cloud environment.

Pratt said it shouldn’t take long to bring the Xen Cloud Platform together. Many of the necessary features are available now from companies that already innovate based on the Xen hypervisor.

“We just need to package them together,” he said.

Xen is playing a key role in enterprises and cloud computing already, Crosby said. Xen is used in about 20 percent of enterprises, and most public clouds are built on it.

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