Mark Angelo of Lanamark has clearly just signed a deal with Symantec and/or Parallels for Lanamark’s capacity planning tools (which look pretty interesting).  Either that, or Mark and his pals at Parallels know more about virtualization than VMware, Citrix, the Xen community, Microsoft and Virtual Box. 

Mark correctly points out that Symantec has a portfolio of interesting point products that are relevant in the delivery market.  Altiris SVS, nSuite, Appstream and possibly other technologies that we don’t know about are all relevant in the market – particularly Altiris, which is a well established vendor in the PCCLM space.   He states that Symantec is going to announce a compelling portfolio that competes with VMware, Citrix and Microsoft.  And he states that a good acquisition by Symantec would be virtualization vendor Parallels.

As far as the Symantec play with its Endpoint Virtualization Suite is concerned, Mark has correctly observed that Symantec brings some interesting assets to the table.  They are a player in PCCLM, and presumably their customers are demanding that Symantec respond to the clear strategic trajectories of the major application and desktop delivery vendors.  At the same time, Symantec is a good partner of ours in many areas.  I think it’s fair to say that we’re very comfortable that customers will prefer our solutions in those areas where Citrix has always played a strategic role – delivery of apps and desktops as a service – but that customers will have environments that include Symantec even in those scenarios, and we will work with Symantec to enable customers to succeed wherever that is the case.

Where Mark’s enthusiasm about his new found friends leads him toward hyperbole, is the role of Parallels. Mark says:

“Enter Parallels. While Parallels has taken its time to build a bare-metal hypervisor, the company knew that it could not bring a second rate product to market given the fierce competition. So instead of launching Parallels Server prematurely, Parallels continued to build and refine a virtualization offering that is technologically superior to anything currently available on the market”  [followed by a feature list that is .. pretty unremarkable in any virtualization context]

While Parallels is a very respectable vendor that owns the “microslice” web hosting market world wide as well as being the initial leader in type 2 virtualization on the Mac, they have very limited credibility in the enterprise.  Could they get there with “technology that is superior to anything currently available on the market”? Sure.  So what’s this magical technology? A type 2 hypervisor that is becoming bare-metal capable over time?  Perhaps I’ll leave it to my friends at VMware to respond to that one. 

At the end of the day, the argument that Mark is advancing is similar to those I’ve recently heard from Red Hat about the superiority of KVM.  Just as with Parallels, I have no problem with KVM. It’s just another (currently immature, but advancing) virtualization technology that will be in Linux, that presumably will become great over the timescale that all software becomes great.  Open source KVM will, by virtue of cross pollination, be compatible with Xen, and via our contribution of VHD support, possibly even be compatible with Hyper-V.  (Parallels is none of those.)  But both are just another way to virtualize a server.  No more, no less, no magic.

But look at the competitive landscape: With ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V the hypervisor itself is free, and in the case of XenServer, the complete virtual infrastructure is free.  So arguing about another way to use Intel VT seems like a waste of time.  The conversation that I find myself engaged in with our customers relates to a much larger issue in the enterprise:  How can Citrix Essentials for XenServer and Hyper-V enable IT and lines of business to automate the lifecycle of their workloads, automatically orchestrate complex data center storage networks,  data networks and their XenServer or Hyper-V based vitual infrastructure to offer an agile IT infrastructure service to the business.  Users and application owners need direct role-based access to a lights out IT environment that is agile and accountable, yet that takes advantage of virtualization features offered by multiple vendors.   So, much as I enjoyed using Parallels on my Mac, I thinkit is important to up-level the vendor view of customer challenges beyond simply OS virtualization.   

Finally, while on the topic of Parallels, I’ve recently switched to Virtual Box which apart from being open source (like Xen)  has a great UI and excellent performance, useability and simplicity.  With Parallels initial lead now being challenged by both Virtual Box and VMware Fusion, I can’t see any reason why I would recommend it.   That said, Parallels support has been excellent, when I’ve had to use it, and their disk utilities are very useful.