Though we released XenServer 5.6 just four months ago, we’re already getting close to general availability of the follow-up release: codenamed project “Cowley.”  The beta release is now available on for your download and use. Here’s some of what is new:

  • Distributed Virtual Switching. This new capability provides distributed fine-grained networking configuration and control policies, which increases visibility into XenServer virtual networks. Support for the Open vSwitch (OVS) has been added as a post-install option on XenServer hosts, as well as a Controller for administration of multiple vSwitches and cross-host internal networks. The open vSwitch also includes support for jumbo frames configuration on storage networks.
  • VM Protection & Recovery is used for configuring scheduled snapshots and (optional) export of virtual machines.
  • Web Self-Service. Provides browser-based access to selected virtual machines by delegated administrators.
  • Boot from SAN with multi-pathing support. Boot XenServer hosts with Fibre channel HBAs from a SAN, with multi-pathing support.
  • HA Restart Priority. Configure HA policies to restart specific VM(s) first, such as StorageLink Gateway VMs or the Distributed vSwitch Controller VM.
  • Improved XenDesktop VDI scalability. Increased host VM density and resource pool scalability, via multi-vCPU control domain (Dom0) and other enhancements.
  • Enhanced XenCenter. Including StorageLink configuration entirely within XenCenter, workload reporting for VM utilization and chargeback.
  • Improved MPP RDAC multi-pathing including path health reporting and alerting.
  • Snapshot improvements. Automatic reclamation of storage space after VM snapshots have been deleted.
  • Enhanced guest OS support for Windows 7 SP1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, RHEL 6.0 (RTM), CentOS 6.0 (RTM), Oracle Enterprise Linux 6.0 (RTM), Debian Squeeze (32 and 64-bit), and SLES 11 SP1.
  • Generic RHEL 5.x support. RHEL / CentOS / Oracle Enterprise Linux 5.0- 5.5 support with a generic “RHEL 5” template.
  • Brocade HBA drivers and command-line tools are included and shipped with XenServer.
  • XenDesktop platform enhancements, including “Intellicache.” Provides local host caching of VM images to reduce storage TCO for XenDesktop VDI deployments. (Note: these platform enhancements will be enabled by a future version of XenDesktop)

You can download the beta from this link.

There is a recorded webinar covering all the features (including demos) available here.  If you are interested in a specific portion of the webinar only, here the timings for each.

  • 03:00 Overview of Project Cowley
  • 04:25 Distributed Virtual Switching (demo starts at 10:53)
  • 31:39 Web Self-Service (demo starts at 34:55)
  • 41:13 VM Protection and Recovery (demo starts at 43:50)
  • 49:15 XenDesktop Optimizations
  • 50:56 Intellicache
  • 55:30 StorageLink – XenCenter integration
  • 59:12 PVS & SR-IOV, Boot from SAN with Multipathing, online snapshot space reclamation, multi-pathing improvements
  • 1:01:35 HA restart priority

We look forward to your feedback!

Bill Carovano
Product Management, XenServer