Live from Citrix Synergy 2010: Day 2

Second day here in San Francisco for the Citrix Synergy 2010. See’s coverage of day one.

Today’s focus will be around virtual datacenters, with announcements for XenServer and cloud computing.

On stage we’ll see Michael Dell (Dell’s Chairman and CEO), Brad Anderson (Microsoft’s Corporate Vice president of the Management and Services Division) and Frank Gens (IDC’s Senior Vice President and Chief Analyst).

Frank Gens is on stage.

He starts summarizing the challenges, expectations and history of cloud computing.
Everything in his speech has been discussed million of times by now, and there’s no sign of news, so is not going to summarize again the whole thing here.

Mark Templeton is on stage.

As promised the discussion is about virtual data centers, and the initial focus is on networks (NetScaler).
Citrix announces the upcoming availability of the NetScaler virtual appliance (VPX) for Hyper-V, planned for summer 2010.
The product will appear as a native Windows service in the System Center management console.

Templeton says that 45% of Fortune 500 are using XenServer now.
Tesco has over 1,000 XenServer hosts.

Citrix announces the availability of XenServer 5.6, which introduces a number of new features, including memory overcommitment (through ballooning) that Citrix calls Dynamic Memory Management, host power management, role-based administration, snapshots support and self-service provisioning through a web-based portal.

Rackspace CEO, Lew Moorman, is called on stage to announce a partnership with Citrix on XenServer.
Moorman announces that The Cloud Rackspace, currently built on top of Xen, will now move to XenServer. This is a truly remarkable recognition for Citrix, considering the size of Rackspace infrastructure (the second largest in the world after Amazon).
The primary reason to change, is that Rackspace wants a fully certified virtual infrastructure to run Windows guest OSes, and Microsoft fully supports XenServer.

Templeton moves to Citrix Essentials, and announces a new version for Microsoft Hyper-V called Essentials Site Recovery edition.
Brad Anderson, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice president of the Management and Services Division, is called on stage to describe the product.

Demo time: Microsoft shows next generation Virtual Machine Manager, officially called System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2011, provisioning a multi-tier application (web frontend, middleware and backend database) through the new Service Designer dashboard.
The demo is essentially the same shown last month during the MMS conference

The most interesting thing anyway is how now Citrix and Microsoft are now displaying the virtual data center where both Essentials and System Center are present together.
Compared to last year’s diagrams, there a huge difference that should not be overlooked: now System Center is on top of everything, even on top of Essentials for XenServer and Hyper-V. 
The Microsoft management product family is not more pictured as a comparable alternative to Citrix Essentials, but is rather displayed as an higher-level product that seems to imply a capability to centrally control multiple Essentials instances.

If true, this is a big shift in strategy, which, in some ways, addresses the many critics about the full overlap of Citrix and Microsoft virtualization stacks.
In this new vision, Microsoft is no more really interested in managing multiple hypervisor hosts, a void that Citrix will be more than happy to fill, but it cares to scale much higher than that, managing multiple virtual data centers.

Now Templeton moves to cloud computing.

Like yesterday, Citrix is trying to validate its approach through (frankly ineffective) video testimonials. Four hosting providers that are using what the company calls cloud computing open framework are on video.
Among the four there’s Terremark, the hosting provider where VMware invested in $20M in June 2009.

Michael Dell is on stage. Dell really has to demonstrate its commitment on cloud computing, which has been week so far compared to competitors, so it will be interesting to hear what the CEO has to say.

Michael Dell mentions the yesterday’s announcement of support for XenClient in today’s and tomorrow’s Dell machines.

He briefly mentions the evolution of IT, briefly (too briefly actually) mentioning cloud computing, and then he shows the upcoming 5” tablet called Dell Streak (formerly Mini 5).
The thing is rather funny since a huge number of attendees have iPads in front of them, and in the entire San Francisco there’s not a single Apple tablet anymore since more than two weeks.
Beyond that, it’s not exactly clear how the shameless plug fits in a keynote about cloud computing and virtual data centers.

Dell finally moves to something more concrete, but again, nothing around cloud computing specifically. He talks about upcoming new features of the SAN arrays Dell | EqualLogic.

Overall, the Dell’s speech has been very, very weak, without any specific commitment on virtual data centers, on cloud computing or in partnership with Citrix. Rather disappointing, and definitively a wasted opportunity for the company to demonstrate that it has a real, effective strategy.

Now IDC’s Frank Gens and Michael Dell sit together pretending to honestly debate about cloud computing, and waiting for questions from the audience. Considering what we heard so far, it’s unlikely that the audience will hear anything too interesting here, and it’s a pity since Citrix could have so much more to say on its own.
Where are some announcements on how Citrix will leverage the Xen Cloud Platform (XCP) for example?

Well, that’s all.
The debate between the two just produced a endless series of obvious statements which definitively lowered the value of the keynote. Citrix did a much better job yesterday and hopefully next year it will focus on the many things it does.