Citrix, Microsoft Take Aim at Enterprises with Essentials
Citrix and Microsoft, already close collaborators on many
virtualization-based initiatives, ratcheted up their relationship Monday with
the announcement of Citrix Essentials, a group of technologies calculated to
shoehorn their way into the enterprise datacenters now dominated by VMware.
Essentials adds functionality to Hyper-V, Microsoft's base hypervisor. A
hypervisor controls creation of Virtual Machines (VMs) and is the engine that
drives virtualization. Hyper-V, which was first released by Microsoft last June,
is a well-regarded version 1 product, but still lacks features that make it a
good fit for an enterprise environment.
The purpose of Essentials is to fill in that lacking feature set.
Specifically, it beefs up Hyper-V's storage capabilities with StorageLink
technology. It "delivers the perfect compliment to Hyper-V for enterprise
customers that makes Hyper-V more scalable, manageable and easier to use," said
Simon Crosby, Citrix CTO, at a news conference.
StorageLink basically offers enhanced storage capabilities for SAN
environments. As Crosby pointed out, booting from a SAN requires a lot of
management orchestration, and virtualization adds to the complexity. In most
enterprises, VMs live in the SAN, making management more important than ever.
Citrix and Microsoft are building a clear division of labor: Citrix
Essentials will provide the functionality, while Microsoft's System Center
Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) will oversee the environment. Both Crosby and
David Greschler, Microsoft's director of System Center marketing, confirmed that
neither company wants to step on the other's toes.
Two versions of Citrix Essentials will be offered: Enterprise Edition, which
offers StorageLink, provisioning services, workflow orchestration and other
capabilities, will cost $1,500 per physical server. Platinum Edition is
identical to Enterprise, but adds lab automation and management from
virtualization vendor VMLogix. It will be priced at double the Enterprise
Edition, or $3,000 per physical server.
Crosby said that Essentials will see general availability in April.
Citrix and Microsoft have teamed up continually in the virtualization space
to compete with VMware, which still owns the lion's share of the market. For
instance, any VM created on either hypervisor, Hyper-V or Citrix's XenServer,
will work equally well in a Citrix or Microsoft environment.
The companies have also partnered in the realm of desktop virtualization.
Citrix offers the infrastructure through XenDesktop, while Microsoft again
handles management through VMM. It's clear that Microsoft sees itself as the
overall virtualization management provider, while Citrix, with its long
involvement in application delivery through Presentation Server (now XenApp),
provides much of the nuts and bolts.
Both companies are still looking up at VMware, which will undoubtedly be
unveiling a host of new products at VMworld Europe 2009, which starts next
Tuesday at Cannes, France.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.