Red Hat drops Xen in RHEL 6.0 beta, Citrix recommends moving to Oracle Enterprise Linux – UPDATED

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When Red Hat announced its plan to focus on KVM, and subsequently acquired Qumranet, the startup that maintained the virtualization platform, it was clear that its implementation of Xen couldn’t survive much longer.
In Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4 and 5.5 Xen and KVM coexisted, but the former is going to disappear in RHEL 6.0.

The first public beta of the new operating system in fact doesn’t have it anymore, according to ComputerWorld.

Quite interestingly, ComputerWorld also quotes Simon Crosby, the Citrix CTO of Datacenter and Cloud division, who said “Red Hat has not contributed to the Xen code base for several years”, also suggesting that Red Hat is now five years behind the market because of its decision to support KVM.

But even more interesting is what Crosby has to say on his own corporate blog about the Red Hat decision.
Not only he recommends to Red Hat customers to consider a switch to Oracle Enterprise Linux or Novell SUSE Linux rather than prepare themselves to convert RHEL 5.x Xen virtual machines into RHEL 6.x KVM ones, but he suggests these options even before suggesting to migrate the RHEL 5.x Xen VMs on Citrix XenServer:

…If you approach your virtualized world with a Linux/RHEL based mindset, then I recommend you consider switching to Oracle Enterprise Linux. It is a superior, enterprise class version of RHEL, and typically more up to date than it, and OEL is guaranteed to be compatible with RHEL. It’s straightforward to point an existing RHEL update network to the Oracle update servers. Oracle supports OEL on other virtualization platforms such as VMware or XenServer, and in terms of pricing, running OEL in a virtual environment requires that the customer pay for only a single subscription for the physical server.

Alternatively, if you’re wary of giving Larry more control than he already has over your environment, Novell SUSE Linux offers a superb enterprise Linux platform boasting more than 3,000 certified applications, fully supported on Xen and XenServer, with complete support for SAP and (via Mono) many Microsoft .Net apps.

Crucially, OEL and XenServer (and for that matter, Oracle VM, Hyper-V and even ESXi) are freely downloadable products. There is no freely downloadable Red Hat product. Moreover, for RHEV, the "virtualization platform" incarnation of RHEL, even the source is no longer available online. You need to send Red Hat a check for $10, and they will mail you a CD with source. Yep, you can get the source if you ask for it, but then you’ve got to build it yourself. Uhhh.

While both Oracle and Citrix are delivering their own implementation of Xen and could be considered competitors in the server virtualization market,  this is not the first time that Citrix openly endorses Oracle.
The overall impression is that between the two companies is growing a tighter relationship. If so, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft will react considering its 20-years old partnership with Citrix.
This week at its Management Summit (MMS) 2010 conference, Citrix received from Microsoft what seemed one of the most significant endorsement ever seen on stage. May the two things be related?