A couple of weeks ago Citrix announced a new partnership with Novell on virtualization.
The deal includes two parts.
The first one is focused on providing joint technical support to those customers that run SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as a XenServer guest OS.
The second one grants the use of Platespin Recon for Citrix and its Solutions Advisors partners.
While Novell could be considered a Citrix competitor because of its implementation of Xen, the reality is that, at the moment, Citrix has no interest in competing with anybody at the hypervisor layer.
The Citrix strategy is focused on placing XenDesktop on top of every possible hypervisor. And this includes ESX, Hyper-V and of course as many Xen flavors as possible.
So the Novell version of Xen is just an additional opportunity to sell VDI for Citrix.
At the same time the Novell commitment on Xen validates the hypervisor that Citrix is using as main foundation, keeping developers and customers engaged, and Citrix has all the interest to not disrupt it.
The increasing focus that Novell has on KVM must be clarified before customers start to think that yet another vendor (after Red Hat) is abandoning Xen.
This is probably why the Citrix CTO Simon Crosby offered a surprising insight about the value and shortcomings of KVM, the reason behind the Novell and Red Hat decision to invest on it, and the increasing interest for Oracle VM:
It’s important to realize that for a Linux vendor, KVM significantly simplifies the engineering, testing and packaging of the distro. KVM is a driver in the kernel, whereas Xen, even with paravirt_ops support in the Linux kernel, requires the vendor to pick a particular release of Xen and its tool stack, and then integrate that with a specific kernel.org kernel, and exhaustively test them together – rather than just getting a pre-integrated kernel and hypervisor from kernel.org. So it is entirely reasonable to expect that over time the distros will focus on KVM as a hypervisor. I think KVM is extremely powerful in this context. But ultimately the choice depends on how the end-user wants to acquire/consume virtualization.
If the use case involves the customer buying, installing and running Linux to achieve virtualization, KVM will eventually do a fine job. If on the other hand, the user expects to deploy a virtualization platform that is entirely guest OS agnostic, using a complete virtual infrastructure platform then a type-1 hypervisor that is OS agnostic (xen.org Xen Cloud Platform, Citrix XenServer, OracleVM, VMware vSphere) is what they will go for. I have previously made the case that OS-bundled hypervisors have both inherent advantages and disadvantages in penetrating the market: The opportunity is to supplant the existing OS footprint with a new version of the OS that includes virtualization. The disadvantage is that no OS vendor has yet done a good job of virtualizing its competitors’ products, and indeed strategically is never likely to do so. Let’s be blunt: thus far they have done a mediocre job at best…