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Citrix, Dell Partner on Virtualization

Deepening its existing partner relationship with Dell as a new competitive dynamic and pricing model unfolds, Citrix has announced the availability of a Dell-specific embedded version of XenServer for Dell PowerEdge servers.

The move follows a similar partnership with HP forged back in March when the two companies jointly developed and planned to co-market an integrated solution called Citrix XenServer HP Select Edition.

The deal with Dell also involves a distribution agreement and gives Citrix a chance to leverage the Dell footprint for value-added upsell opportunities. Other partnerships are also being considered. Simon Crosby, Citrix CTO, told Virtualization Review that "our intention is to work with all major x86 server vendors, including IBM and Sun."

The Dell product integration strategy involving the XenServer OEM Edition hypervisor was first announced last October. Both Dell Express Edition and Dell Enterprise Edition are included. In addition, they are the only Dell virtualization solutions that allow customers to use the Dell OpenManage management framework, which the company says will help increase server and storage utilization. Crosby says that this option "allows customers to have their preferred management console, which could be either Dell or Citrix."

Crosby also notes that the embedded versions of XenServer are not generic, but are very specific to each hardware vendor. The Dell version is significantly different than its HP Select Edition counterparts.

In terms of features and functionality for XenServer Dell Enterprise Edition, Dell is touting ease of installation, enhanced management visibility and cost-effective live migration -- an important differentiator among server virtualization suppliers. Live migration is facilitated by the fact that multiple server upgrades can be initiated via a license key. Ease of use associated with Dell's MD3000 direct attached storage arrays is also being emphasized.

An important aspect of the announcement relates to pricing. Citrix's no-cost approach for server consolidation is clearly a shot over the bow of VMware's pricing structure. "Our objective in working with Dell has been to drive down the per-server cost of virtualization and make server consolidation free," says Crosby. Citrix also recently adopted a new per-server licensing model, which is a major differentiator from VMware and other suppliers which offer pricing based on the number of CPU sockets in a server.

Citrix also has a hand in the recently announced Dell PAN System involving a software suite from data center automation supplier Egenera. The solution is based on PowerEdge 1950 and 2950 servers, Dell/EMC storage, and XenServer. (For more on this, see the feature story about Dell's virtualization strategy in the upcoming May/June issue of Virtualization Review magazine.)

About the Author

Tom Valovic is a freelance technology writer.

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