First things first, let’s get this out of the way. At this time, Citrix CloudPlatform does not support XenServer 6.1. However, it is in works. The plan is to support XenServer 6.1 in the next major release of CloudPlatform. Now that we have established the fact, let’s look at how key features of XenServer 6.1 will benefit Citrix CloudPlatform. While I would love to squeeze everything into one, it is not practical. Hence, this is part I of the series.
Virtual Machine Density:
No matter whether you are an enterprise or a service provider, if you are serious about your cloud, you owe it to yourself to make the best use of all those powerful CPUs with gazillion cores and even more threads per CPU (don’t believe me, take a look at Intel Xeon E5 brief) for greater consolidation, which may translate into lower server acquisition costs, operational costs, power costs and data center floor space. What better way to make use of this busting at seams computer power than packing more VMs per host!
From commercial perspective, it makes sense to pack as many VMs as practically possible without sacrificing performance if vendors are pricing their wares per socket / CPU. Heck, even VMware has come around changing their vSphere pricing from vRAM to per socket.
Curiosity got the better of me and I started researching about VM density on vSphere. Kudos to VMware, it did not take me long to dig up this vSphere 5.0 Configuration Maximum guide. Referring to table 6 on page 6, there could be max 32 hosts per cluster and max of 3,000 virtual machines per cluster thereby offering max of 93.75 virtual machines per host! Suddenly, I experienced this new found appreciation for XenServer 6.1 number of 150.
Score: Citrix 1, VMware 0.
Virtual Machine Conversion:
While it is true that Citrix CloudPlatform is the best Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) Solution for vSphere, it is also true that when you are on vSphere, costs add up pretty fast and you know it. To add insult to your injury, if you are a service provider who is subject to vRAM based pricing, you know your fate! In addition, there is a growing trend toward multi-hypervisor datacenters where customers are leaning towards more than one hypervisor in their datacenters (read this blog by Aberdeen Group if you haven’t already).
Fear not, XenServer 6.1 brings to you XenServer Conversion Manager – a handy dandy tool to convert your VMware virtual machines into XenServer virtual machines and that too in a batch and in one single wizard. It’s pretty cool. It’s like Zantac for your heartburn. Keep devouring that vSphere hypervisor and as soon as you hit the hole-in-your-pocket heartburn, ingest a Zantac. In this case – migrate VMs using XenServer Conversion Manager. Need I remind you that Citrix CloudPlatform supports multiple hypervisor technologies unlike vCloud Suite where you are stuck with vSphere only.
XenServer Conversion Manager is very easy to setup. All you need to do is import the XenServer Conversion Manager Virtual Appliance into your XenServer host or pool, install the XenServer Conversion Manager Console on a windows machine, and follow a simple wizard.
I encourage you to read Citrix XenServer Conversion Manager 1.0 guide to get the nuts and bolts of this tool. You will not be disappointed, I guarantee it.
Score: Citrix 2, VMware 0.
Key takeaways from these two features: Pack more VMs per host…cost effectively and don’t get locked in to just one hypervisor.