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Citrix, HP Team Up on Embedded Hypervisor

Citrix has become the latest entry into the increasingly-crowded field of embedded hypervisors.

The Fort Lauderdale, FL-based company today announced a deal to embed a small, lightweight version of its standard hypervisor, XenServer, into ProLiant brand servers from HP. Called Citrix XenServer HP Select Edition, the hypervisor will come pre-installed, giving customers the opportunity to try virtualization out of the box.

Hypervisors enable virtualization by decoupling software from the underlying hardware. Embedded hypervisors do not have all the functionality of their full-fledged brethren, but do have the advantage of small size and integrated capabilities.

By shrinking down and embedding its flagship hypervisor, Citrix now competes more directly with VMware, which announced a similar deal several weeks ago. In that pact, four OEMs -- IBM, Dell, Fujitsu, and HP -- agreed to offer VMware's ESX 3i hypervisor as an embedded option. One potential advantage XenServer Select may have over ESX 3i is a graphical user interface, which may make it more attractive to Windows admins, who tend to favor GUIs over command-line interfaces.

The deal also means that HP offers customers the choice of several different embedded hypervisors.

It appears that most hypervisor makers are trying to break into the "available-out-of-the-box" market. Microsoft, for example, is offering something along the same lines, without an embedded option: its brand-new hypervisor, Hyper-V, is bundled with Windows Server 2008 (and also offered as a stand-alone server). Hyper-V is now at the release candidate stage, and could be available soon. Microsoft, however, has not announced any intent to embed Hyper-V, the way Citrix and VMware are.

Citrix says that XenServer HP Select Edition will be available and supported as of March 31. No pricing information was given.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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