It’s year end, and some virtualization beat writers are desperate for something to tempt eyeballs and hopefully lift their click-through rates. Anything for a bit of cheer. And since real news is lacking, and research and analysis are no longer required, why not make something up? Now, if you’re lacking any creativity, have no research whatsoever to base your work on, and you’re facing a deadline, you could always dig up something else that one of your colleagues made up a while ago, and re-hash it. That fine graduate degree in literary arts should allow you to re-cast the familiar plot in fine sounding prose, and with any luck the punters will go for it. After all, if he said it, it must be true, right? And who cares, as long as we get some clicks.

I think I’ve concluded that there are a few people whose predictions about the future I will never believe. They are precisely those who are compensated based on clicks and not insight, and who seldom take the time to check for data or accuracy. So, just for the record, here are a few facts for the next person who cares to predict the imminent demise of XenServer.

Citrix XenServer added over 35,000 new customers in 2009 in the virtual infrastructure category alone, and we saw over 200,000 downloads of the product within three quarters. XenServer is also a fully supported feature for every one of the ~200,000 customers of Citrix XenApp, and we have seen tremendously strong uptake in the core Citrix business virtualizing XenApp. XenServer is also merely a feature of XenDesktop, and is currently the supported platform for Netscaler VPX. In the delivery of Virtual Desktops XenServer is critical to XenDesktop because it outperforms every other hypervisor for desktop workloads (yes, including ESX – and even when VMware’s sub-optimal memory optimizations are turned on). XenServer is also the only alternative to VMware that meets 100% of the Burton Group’s requirements for enterprise production virtualization.

XenServer is incredibly strategic for Citrix. Our development goal for next year is to be able to optimally deliver over 100,000 virtual desktops. To successfully do so requires us to be able to deal with over 10GB/s of sustained block I/O for desktop OSes, deliver over 100Mb/s of 3D desktop traffic, and offer the fabulous “HD” user experience for which Citrix delivery solutions are renowned. In doing this, we will also be the pre-eminent virtual infrastructure platform for private and public clouds.

Now, to specifically take odds with the latest incarnation of the rather tiresome “Xen is dead” theme, it ought to be obvious to anyone with a shred of insight into the industry, that no vendor would acquire 35,000 customers one year, be acknowledged by the leading analyst group in the virtualization industry as having the #2 feature set, and walk away the next. Similarly, no vendor would introduce a critically important strategic feature into their core product one year, and then rip it out the next. Similarly, given our commitment to the open source community, and our powerful community development partnerships with Oracle, Intel, AMD, VA Linux, Fujitsu, Novell, Red Hat and over 45 others, it ought to be rather obvious that delivering a rich set of innovative features into open source would be a theme that we would seek to accelerate, to deliver more features to our partners, and to benefit from the contribution of theirs. Moreover, an assertion that open source is a negative value proposition demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the major trend in cloud computing, in which a rich enterprise virtual infrastructure foundation, available in open source, is the core building block of every significant Infrastructure as a Service offering.

I thought I’d help my friends at TechTarget get a better understanding of how prolific Xen and XenServer are, and since they have no real research to go on, so I purchased them a small Christmas present: The domains searchxen.com and searchxenserver.com – missing until now from their stable. I will gladly transfer these domains to them, together with the pre-configured automatic email notification that will be delivered to Alex Barrett and Brian Madden every time a download is made from xen.org or XenServer5.com. After all, there’s nothing quite like a thousand emails a day to remind you of a free gift that just keeps giving. Finally, I’ve also registered www.searchcitrix.com and will be giving that to the Citrix team to point forever at blogs.citrix.com or some such, just so there is somewhere where factual information about our products can be guaranteed to be found.

To all who contributed to Xen this year, whether in lines of code or simply by using it, thank you. And to those who have placed a bet on XenServer as a faster, free, simpler and more scalable virtual infrastructure platform than VMware, your confidence in us is not regarded lightly. We prize it. XenServer will will be faster, still free, more scalable, more widely used and superbly supported in 2010, and every year thereafter.

With best wishes for 2010