Intel: No plan to develop a client hypervisor

Intel’s recent acquisitions of Neocleus and McAfee generated a lot of questions around the new go-to-market strategy that the chipmaker is developing.
Among the others, one was specially importan from a virtualization perspective: is Intel moving to develop its own secure client hypervisor and cancel the partnership with Citrix on XenClient?

Before being acquired, in fact, McAfee started a two-phases plan to release VDI-friendly security solutions first (accomplished) and an out-of-band security solution for XenClient (still in development). At the same time, Neocleus was trying to sell a Xen-based client hypervisor with strong focus on security.

The idea of Intel becoming a virtualization platform vendor may sound odd, but it’s worth to remind that the company recently announced a virtual infrastructure for SMBs called Hybrid Cloud. That solution, originally planned to leverage Microsoft Hyper-V, is now shipping with Citrix XenServer.

While Intel didn’t say a single thing about how the acquisitions may impact its partnerships, at least the company said¬†that there are no plans to develop its own client hypervisor. Interviewing Rick Echevarria, Vice President of Digital Office Platform Division at Intel, Brian Madden reports:

…Rick first put the rumor to bed about Intel creating a hypervisor. No, Intel is not planning on creating a client hypervisor that would compete with partners like Citrix or VMware. Instead the value that Neocleus brings to Intel is that they’re now able to have a conversation with their partners about client hypervisors. The Neocleus folks give Intel an in-house perspective on what might be important for a client hypervisor and lets them speak intelligently about the topic…

It’s a common belief that Intel is pushing hard its virtualization partners developing a client hypervisor, like Citrix, Virtual Computer and VMware, to restrict support to those laptop featuring vPro and its GPU only, even if none of these technologies are necessary to run any feature.
Citrix, in fact, is only recommending to use computers equipped with the Intel vPro chipset, asking for VT-x and VT-d as the only mandatory hardware enhancements.

On their side, virtualization vendors are under strong pressure from customers questioning the need for vPro and demanding for extended support.
Citrix already confirmed that XenClient support for NVIDIA GPUs is coming, but couldn’t explain why it was not included in 1.0 version despite the company took almost two years to deliver it.

Ideally, the ownership of Neocleus intellectual property and talents, allows Intel to keep vPro a high priority for virtualization vendors, to avoid direct competition and maybe patent lawsuit.
Many believe that this theory better explains why Intel doesn’t want to leverage acquired technologies for a new platform.

Of course it must be seen if Intel will be able to retain Neocleus talents after they will digest the fact that no, their knowledge won’t be used to further develop the enterprise product that they tried to market for more than two years.