How long before Amazon moves from Xen to XenServer on EC2?

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It doesn’t matter if you are a loyal customer of VMware, Citrix or Microsoft. Anytime one of these three vendors (or any other in the market) mentions its effort in the cloud computing space using virtualization the comparison term is Amazon.

Amazon has been the first to develop a general purpose cloud computing infrastructure and offer it to the general public. The company launched the (beta) service in August 2006, adopting the open source hypervisor Xen as virtualization engine of choice.
So far their Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2) is the biggest and most mature Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) architecture existing on the market.

During the last three years Citrix acquired XenSource, the leading company for the Xen project, and released the commercial implementation of Xen, XenServer, free of charge.
Amazon doesn’t reveal anything about its Xen implementation, but it’s same to assume that the company engineers had to develop a lot of tools and features on top of Xen.
Now the company can have for free enterprise management, virtual machines live migration, resource sharing, integrated storage management and, at the same time, can count on the enterprise support that Citrix now offers.
This must be a tempting proposition to lower the EC2 maintenance costs.

If, in the future, Amazon wants to use EC2 to develop massive virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) and offer hosted desktops in the consumer market, Citrix is ready, as they are about to release a client hypervisor based on Xen, XenClient, for free as well.

So how long before Amazon moves from Xen to XenServer on EC2?

Maybe not so much: last week at the Synergy conference (which co-hosted the’s Virtualization Congress 2009) Citrix announced a new partnership with Amazon to offer and support part of its products on the EC2 virtual machines.

As Richard Jones, VP of Data Center Strategies at Burton Group, said on his corporate blog:

The announcement on May 6th at Synergy of Citrix-Amazon collaboration on internal/external cloud interoperability has “we’re moving to Citrix XenServer as our EC2 hypervisor infrastructure” written all over it.