Simon Crosby, the Chief Technology Officer of the Virtualization and Management Division of Citrix, recently did a podcast with Virtual Strategy Magazine called “10 Minutes to Xen”. Here is a list of the topics discussed –

Podcast Summary:

  • Introduction
  • Simon Crosby, Founder and CTO, XenSource (:05)
  • Busy integrating XenSource into Citrix (:13)
  • Virtualization Management Division delivering entire solutions (:37)
  • XenServer optimized to run Presentation Server (1:00)
  • XenServer OEM component of Citrix XenDesktop – VDI Broker (1:15)
  • XenServer and Provisioning Server (1:37)
  • How Microsoft’s partnership with Citrix will affect XenSource when Viridian hypervisor is released (4:15)
  • How VDI will affect server virtualization side of XenSource (6:44)
  • Sales activity since acquisition by Citrix (7:58)
  • What’s Next: Citrix Summit08 coming soon and Citrix XenServer in beta (9:42)
  • Close

For those of you running Citrix Presentation Server, Simon mentions in this podcast that the plan for the next release of Citrix XenServer is to included some CPS specific optimizations. I am gathering more background info on this topic, and will post on more on these CPS optimizations later.

This week, Simon also did an interview with Information Week entitled “Virtualization’s Crusader”. Here are a few excerpts –

Enter Simon Crosby. Once a tenured professor at Cambridge University, he’s traded the ethereal heights of academia for the cutthroat arena of high tech, driven by the belief that “virtualization has got to be everywhere,” he says.

As former CTO of XenSource and now CTO of Citrix Systems’ virtualization and management division, Crosby has raised the profile of the open source Xen hypervisor as a viable competitor to market leader VMware, while advocating for the hypervisor-any hypervisor-to replace the OS as the key interface between applications and hardware.


IW:With Citrix’s acquisition of XenSource earlier this year, XenSource has the resources of Citrix behind it. How relevant is the Xen project open source hypervisor being developed by the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory?

Crosby:It’s more relevant that before. Xen was about a core thesis of a business model-if the hypervisor is ubiquitous, there’s a huge opportunity for the software industry to deliver value-added software for the dynamism and manageability of enterprise IT. Multiple vendors can take Xen and bring it to market. So the strategic nature has turned it into open source as reference standard for implementation.

IW:In a recent blog post you said that at the time XenSource was acquired, your foremost concern was that Citrix would respect the Xen community and strengthen the project. How do you keep Citrix from having undue influence on the Xen project?

Crosby: We’ve moved the Xen project into a separate .org. It has an oversight committee composed of all the major contributors.

IW: Who’s on the committee?

Crosby:The key vendors there are IP, HP, Intel, Red Hat, Novel, Sun and ourselves. It’s those who are delivering the hypervisor to the market and who are interested in a careful description of what is and is not Xen. Those companies establish policies and procedures and oversight of the code base by fiat.

Read more here

Simon also did a recent interview with DataMation

Here are a few excepts –

Q: The XenSource applications are based on open source. In terms of the virtualization market, what are the pluses or minuses of an open source approach?

Open source is an extremely valuable tool for innovation. One of the key things about the Xen code base is that it can be delivered to market by multiple vendors, and will be.

… So the day that the first Intel VT CPU ships, we have the support. The day the hardware virtualization [launches] we have the support. So we’ve become the industry’s first and best support for an enhanced hardware experience.

And at the same time, we’ve been very anxious to make sure that Xen as an engine was open sourced, but that multiple different vendors could have economic business models built around that. So we commoditize the “engine” – it’s the code base that everyone agrees should be commoditized – and then it has much broader applicability.

So, for example, Xen runs on [certain] PDAs, and Samsung is doing work with those as a product prototype. But it also runs on supercomputers from SGI. That way, we don’t have just one ‘car’ – there’s everything from Porches to Minis. So you don’t limit its applicability.

For further background on the Xen open source hypervisor and the industry wide participation in that project, see my earlier posts here and here .

*Q: What about the relationship between the Xen hypervisor and Microsoft’s Viridian? How will that work?*

Microsoft implements the Viridian hypervisor as an add-in operating system component. The architecture of Viridian is very similar to Xen, but it is Microsoft-built – entirely.

And so the way to think about Viridian with Windows Server 2008 is pretty much like Red Hat does with Xen, or Novell does with Xen, or now Sun is doing with Xen with Solaris 10. So it’s a hypervisor included with the OS, which is basically the Xen architecture, but written by Microsoft. We have a partnership with Microsoft to make sure that Viridian interoperates with the world.

In fact, the partnership with Microsoft is extremely strong, and getting stronger. They’re important in the context of Citrix, and very important in the context of the integrated hypervisor, the embedded hypervisor, which will be shipped by Dell as of the beginning of next year…

I have received a lot of questions about the relationship between Microsoft, XenSource, and Viridian. The two companies announced several agreement well before the Citrix acquisition of XenSource. Here are some excepts from the Microsoft press release from July of 2006-

Microsoft Corp. and XenSource Inc. today announced they will cooperate on the development of technology to provide interoperability between Xen™-enabled Linux and the new Microsoft® Windows® hypervisor technology-based Windows Server® virtualization. With the resulting technology, the next version of Windows Server, code-named “Longhorn,” will provide customers with a flexible and powerful virtualization solution across their hardware infrastructure and operating system environments for cost-saving consolidation of Windows, Linux and Xen-enabled Linux distributions.

“Microsoft’s commitment to customers is to build bridges across the industry with solutions that are interoperable by design,” said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. “Our work with XenSource, a recognized leader in open source virtualization technology, reflects that commitment and Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to bring virtualization solutions to the mainstream and help customers progress toward self-managing dynamic systems.”

“We are pleased to collaborate with Microsoft as a development partner and to deliver interoperable virtualization solutions,” said Peter Levine, president and CEO of XenSource. “Xen-enabled guests will run seamlessly on XenEnterprise now, and, as a result of this agreement, Xen-enabled Linux guests will also run on Windows Server virtualization. XenSource will also deliver additional products based on the collaboratively developed technology, further expanding the value of the relationship.”

Here is a bit from the original XenSource published FAQ on the Microsoft agreement from July 2006 -

Microsoft and XenSource to Develop Interoperability for Windows Server Longhorn Virtualization

What exactly is being done between Microsoft and XenSource?
Microsoft and XenSource have signed an agreement to collaboratively develop and deliver virtualization
technology enabling interoperability between Xen-enabled systems and Windows Server “Longhorn”
virtualization. Specifically, select Xen-enabled guest operating systems, including Linux, will be able to run
virtualized on Windows Server “Longhorn” Virtualization and will be supported by Microsoft.

Does XenSource have additional plans based on the developed code?
XenSource intends to build and sell additional future products based on the collaboratively developed code.
XenSource will deliver additional value-added products that apply equally well to virtualized Linux or Windows
operating systems hosted on both Windows Server virtualization and XenEnterprise. Additionally, XenSource
will ensure interoperability of Windows Server guests running on XenEnterprise.

*Q: If there’s a hypothetical IT buyer out there who’s considering both VMware and XenSource, what would you say to direct them?*

I think VMware has fantastic products, they have their reputation, but there’s no reason to be paying through your nose to do virtualization. We have fantastic products, and they will be delivered in a much cheaper, much more useful form factor when they’re just included with every server.

It would be reasonable to say that we as XenSource, as a small company, have the enterprise cred, and the legs to stand on. We’re a very strategic company. We now have 24/7 worldwide support, we have all of the scale, all of the resources, all of the partnerships, and all of the features that VMware has. So there’s no reason not to consider us as a platform of choice.

The Xen open source hypervisor project is a vibrant growing community with a new Advisory Board with wide industry participation. Citrix XenServer benefits from the creativity and innovation of this effort.

The Microsoft Hyper-V release is built on a structure very similar to that of the Xen hypervisor. This architecture gives Microsoft a strong architectural standing for the future, and gives Citrix the opportunity to take all the lessons we have learned from supporting that architecture and apply those lessons to building valuable management products on top of Hyper-V. This is very similar to the current relation Citrix has with Microsoft in respect to Terminal Services and Citrix Presentation Server. Citrix can draw upon our many years of experience of building value on top of a Microsoft platform and working closely with Microsoft to do it.

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