Yes, I know somewhat cliché and greatly overused, but in this case the quote perfectly captures the sentiment.  As we are now nearly half way through 2010, it seemed to me like a good moment to share some of the XenServer “vitals.” 

For those of you that follow Citrix, you know that XenServer is targeted at three distinct constituents / solution areas:  the datacenter with server consolidation and business continuity, as a foundational element for service providers building out cloud services and desktop virtualization as the “back end” host system for XenDesktop deployments.  In each of these areas we have seen great progress over the last year and XenServer has become an integral tool for this large, growing and diverse group of customers. 

In the datacenter space, the adoption of the freemium model has helped to not only raise awareness but also drive XenServer into the datacenters of over 45,000 new customers in the last year.  This has helped to triple unit share and, more importantly, when combined with the recent product enhancements, position XenServer as a leading spoiler in the battle for server sockets.   

TomTom is a great example for how the freemium model works.  The company first installed a few copies of XenServer right after the free version was made available in April 2009.  After a few months of using the product, the company decided to upgrade to the Enterprise edition in order to leverage the premium functionality.   Today, TomTom has “hundreds of virtual servers running on XenServer” and has adopted XenServer as its standard virtualization platform,enabling them to “have an always-on and dynamic datacenter.” 

These are exactly the type of anecdotal stories we are seeing with increasing frequency (and are expecting to see even more now that XenServer 5.6 has been released which, btw, you can get here), In my last posting, I detailed some of the conversations I was having with the early beta customers of 5.6 and how these customers increasingly found XenServer to be on par with VMware from a feature function perspective.  Combine this with the customer-friendly per-server licensing model and lower costs (run your own cost comparison), and the drumbeat of XenServer in the datacenter will only continue to get louder. 

In the cloud market, Rackspace announced that the company is standardizing on XenServer. Why?  Simple: Support and Openness. Hear it for yourselves (for those that like to get right to the point, the announcement comes about 17 min into this Synergy day 2 keynote). The promise of cloud is unfettered access to computing resources and XenServer is increasingly becoming the preferred platform as service providers require their clouds be built on open platforms leveraging “off the shelf components” as much as possible.  With XenServer, service providers not only get open platform with well documented and stable APIs but they also receive support for the platform as well as an injection of functionality that it would otherwise have to recreate.  Put bluntly, innovators like Rackspace are realizing they can move faster and be more competitive if they consume supported sub-systems rather then supported components.  Finally in the desktop space, XenServer has made significant inroads in the last year. 

Today XenServer now hosts over 50% of all XenDesktop seats sold, which in the last couple of quarters totaled over 1.5M new seats.   This “share of seats” has continued to grow even while as a company we remain open and embrace an agnostic approach to hosting desktop workloads.  Why?  Customers cite a couple of major reasons.  The first is they value the single vendor solution as a means to mitigate integration risk.  The second major driver is price / performance.  While from a pure performance perspective, XenServer is arguably unmatched in terms of both density and response time, but once you figure in the price, there really is no argument to be made.  Hands down, it is clear to customers that hosting XenDesktop on XenServer is the clear choice. Innovations like Dynamic Memory Control (in 5.6) and StorageLink (in 5.5) only add conviction and confidence to these decisions.   

So, while it is always easy to “make the call”, sometimes it is  prudent to actually check the vital signs first.