Brian is a smart chap, but he doesn’t always get it. In a recent posting: Microsoft to Quest in 2009: “A winning partnership.” Microsoft to Quest in 2010: “Que-who?” he betrays a lack of understanding of the Citrix / Microsoft partnership, and draws incorrect conclusions as a result. So let’s try again: Citrix does not compete with Microsoft.
For starters, the statement that XenServer competes with Hyper-V is wrong. XenServer is free and Hyper-V is free. Neither company wants to monetize the hypervisor. XenServer is a virtual infrastructure platform and Hyper-V is a hypervisor in an OS (Windows). They address different needs but also occasionally overlap. For example, Hyper-V will offer RemoteFX and XenServer IntelliCache. The Citrix position is that the role of XenServer is to offer a compelling feature set that permits Citrix and Microsoft to compete successfully with VMware. XenDesktop is supported on ESX, Hyper-V and XS, and the XS role is to offer a platform that dramatically improves performance and reduces TCO versus VMware. If a customer chooses XS today because it offers features not present in Hyper-V, (such as IntelliCache) the customer can be sure that Citrix has no interest in locking the customer to that choice: XS is 100% compatible with HV and if the customer replaces XS with Hyper-V in the future, we have no issue with that whatsoever. Similarly a customer wanting RemoteFX will not find that in XenServer. Meanwhile Citrix and Microsoft both win at the expense of our joint competitor. I can Also assure you that we tell Microsoft everything we know about building a great virtualization platform.
XenServer also serves a key role for us in enabling the market: our desktop and cloud portfolios presume the broad use of virtualization as a commoditized feature of the infrastructure. Broad and rapid adoption of virtual infrastructure is a necessity. Since VMware’s products are expensive, they limit the available market for all vendors. Citrix offers an enterprise class, open, free, ecosystem-friendly alternative to VMware, to accelerate adoption of both desktop virtualization and cloud, and as strategic counters to the closed, expensive, ecosystem-hostile products of our competitor. The XenServer share of the enterprise virtualization market represents about $750MM of non revenue for our friends in Palo Alto, and about 250,000 servers a year of Microsoft-friendly footprint. And for Quest, looking on the bright side of life, XenServer and Hyper-V offer a sizable opportunity for ISV value-add.
Now, getting back to the key theme of Brian’s post, Citrix and Microsoft partner because our customers want us to, and because in so doing we both profit. One ought therefore to assume that Microsoft’s cooling of it’s relationship with Quest is because customers are not adopting the Quest solution. Our field checks confirm this. Citrix appears to have gained the position in desktop virtualization that VMWare has achieved in traditional data center server virtualization. We are the go-to vendor because we don’t compete with Microsoft, we have an open architecture, we offer a better end user experience and cater to a broader set of end user use cases, and finally because we offer better value for money.