The XenSource acquisition

Posted by virtualization.info Staff   |   Monday, August 20th, 2007

Biggest news after VMware IPO surely is XenSource acquisition by Citrix.

Leading one of the most popular open source projects ever, Xen, XenSource is a critical company to influence (in positive or negative ways) the free world community and the virtualization industry.

virtualization.info wanted to investigate how this acquisition may impact the market, and asked Simon Crosby, CTO at XenSource, and Wes Wasson, Corporate Vice President of WorldWide Marketing at Citrix, to answer ten questions about different topics, including Xen forking, commercial offering changes, partnerships agreements and support policy with VMware.


virtualization.info: Many Xen developers are currently employed by XenSource. How this acquisition will impact future development of open source project in detail?

Simon Crosby: We expect this acquisition to increase development resources dedicated to the Xen open source project, both from Citrix and from the larger community. Citrix believes strongly in the open source model XenSource nurtured so successfully in the past and will do everything in its power to preserve and grow it.
We fully support the efforts already underway at XenSource to establish a more independent oversight of the project to ensure that it remains strong, innovative and focused on its core mission. At the same time, we intend to aggressively fund our own contributions to the Xen open source project in a way that benefits the entire community.

VI: What will happen to vendors currently using Xen hypervisor as base for their products (namely Virtual Iron, Novell, Red Hat, Amazon and Sun)? They will be able to continue doing same thing without any impact?

SC: This acquisition is great news for vendors using the Xen hypervisor for their products. The will benefit from increased resources dedicated to the open source Xen project from Citrix, more mature processes driving releases, broader industry participation and greater industry visibility for the Xen virtualization engine.

VI: Is it technically possible for one of these vendors to start a fork of Xen?

SC: As with any open source project, it is always technically possible to take the freely available source code and fork development. Vendors who chose this route to create their own proprietary hypervisor will not, however, be able to call it Xen as it would no longer comply with the open compatibility requirements that are core to the Xen open source vision.
We doubt many vendors will chose this route as there would be virtually no upside in doing so. In addition to losing access to the Xen brand, any vendor who chose to fork the code would lose access to more than 250 of the world’s best virtualization developers and the tremendous testing that the community does against all major hardware and software platforms.
There is no proprietary advantage to be gained by trying to outdo the community on the underlying engine. The real value is in taking advantage of the open source engine and building innovation and commercial value on top of it. This is where we expect most vendors to focus their energies.

VI: What will happen to existing technology partnerships that XenSource has in place with Microsoft and Symantec?

SC: The existing partnerships with Microsoft and Symantec will remain in place and will actually be strengthened by this acquisition.
Microsoft has publicly stated its strong support for this acquisition with combines XenSource with Citrix, one of its strongest partners and the only two time winner of Microsoft’s ISV of the Year award. Citrix has a long history of embracing the Microsoft Windows platform and adding value on top of it and will do the same with the upcoming Viridian platform. Citrix will also work closely with Symantec to build and extend the existing XenSource relationship.
The companies share a common belief that most customers would prefer to manage storage in their virtual environments with the same solutions they use to manage their physical environments. The existing partnership with Symantec is a perfect example of this philosophy.

VI: Will Citrix continue to develop XenEnterprise with same focus on Linux? Or company will shift its efforts in improving Windows guest operating systems?

Wes Wasson: Windows is the most widely deployed operating system in the market today on both the server and desktop side. As a result, XenSource has focused very heavily on supporting this market, a focus which will not change with this acquisition.
Broadly speaking, however, Citrix views XenEnterprise as the best virtualization platform for ANY guest operating system and will continue working hard to ensure that it remains the best platform for supporting both Windows and Linux guests.

VI: Will Citrix acquisition impact on current XenSource prices?

WW: Citrix does not anticipate any price changes as a result of this acquisition.

VI: Will Citrix continue to release the free edition of XenEnterprise called XenExpress?

WW: Absolutely. We believe XenExpress provides a great platform for single-server virtualization and will give our customers and partners an easy way to try the Xen experience in their environments.

VI: Is Citrix planning to integrate all existing virtualization technologies in a single platform or they will continue to appear as separate solutions?

WW: We will actually do both. The current XenSource portfolio will continue to exist and to expand in the fast-growing server virtualization market. In addition, the XenEnterprise platform will be integrated into other product lines within the Citrix application delivery infrastructure portfolio, creating additional value add for those customers.

VI: With the XenSource acquisition Citrix is able to offer hardware virtualization along with presentation virtualization and application virtualization. Doesn’t this overlap the Microsoft offering?

WW: This is essentially the same question Citrix has faced for more than 15 years. During that time, we have managed to build a highly successful $1 billion industry leader based on a strategy of embracing and extending the Microsoft platform. Our successful relationship with Microsoft is successful because of our fundamental belief in Windows as an innovation platform. By working closely with Microsoft, Citrix has been able to take advantage of underlying capabilities of the Windows platform and add value on top of it, a strategy which creates a positive business model for Citrix and drives considerable revenue for Microsoft.
This strategy is very different from the strategy espoused by VMware, who sees itself as another operating system vendor and has publicly identified Microsoft as its top competitor. In sharp contrast, Citrix believes our acquisition of XenSource will extend our longstanding relationship with Microsoft into additional virtualization arenas, allowing us to add value on top of Viridian, a strategy we believe will be extremely positive for both Citrix and Microsoft. By ensuring broad interoperability and compatibility between the Xen virtualization engine and the upcoming Viridian platform, customers will be able to freely deploy on Xen-based products today, knowing they can easily migrate to Viridian-based solutions in the future. Both Citrix and XenSource believe virtualization should be a core part of the Windows operating system.
XenSource does not get any revenue from the underlying hypervisor, nor will Citrix. Our revenue will come from adding a compelling set of application delivery value propositions on top of the hypervisor, whether it is Xen or Viridian. The more successful Viridian is, the more opportunity Citrix will have to sell value-added application delivery offerings on top of this platform, much as we do today with Windows Server in the Terminal Services market.

VI: Now that Citrix becomes a virtualization player, what will happen to its VMware support policy? Will Citrix continue to support VMware based VMs in Citrix Desktop Server and the desktop broker feature of Citrix Presentation Server?

WW: This acquisition does not change anything with regards to our support for customers using VMware. Citrix has always believed in broad support for whatever solutions customers currently have deployed, and that stance will not change in any way. Our mission is to help customers deliver applications and desktops to their end users, regardless of the source of those resources.
While Citrix and VMware will compete in some areas as a result of this acquisition, we will also need to work together in many areas to support our common customers. Customers choosing Citrix can rest assured that our philosophy of openness and support for solutions from other vendors will continue.