Let’s face it, XenServer has been around for quite a while. Citrix purchased the hypervisor back in 2007 and released it entirely free to the market in 2009. Since then, we’ve seen over 1 million downloads of the product and mass adoption in all sorts of businesses from SMBs to the largest service providers. Despite all this, we had almost 700 first time attendees on our XenServer Master Class last week taking a look at what this product has to offer. The newbies were joined by 300 additional Master Class veterans who continue to return to see what we’ll be showing off this time on our British radio show inspired, tech webinar. All of the attendees joined in to keep us busy, asking hundreds of questions for our XenServer experts to answer live on the webinar. If you missed it, watch the recording and read a summary of the top questions asked by the audience.
Why are cloud providers choosing XenServer to power their clouds?
This question could have an entire blog post dedicated to it, but I will try to address it as simply as possible. Currently 80% of Citrix CloudPlatform and Apache CloudStack environments are built on top of Xen or XenServer. Why? The high level reasons are scalability and cost*.
Scalability comes from XenServer’s fully replicated architecture across all hosts in an environment. This means there is no management server required to manage a given number of hosts. Should the master host in a pool go down, any other host can be promoted to replace it with no loss of functionality or configuration. In practice, this means cloud providers can freely choose to cluster hosts as required without incurring any additional configuration or management complexity based on cluster size.
While cost is an important factor for every company to consider, it is particularly important when you’re looking at licensing hundreds or even thousands of hosts. Both the open source version of XenServer and the premium version of XenServer that is included as part of your CloudPlatform entitlement, mean cloud providers can get the virtualization layer of their cloud at no cost. These savings can then be turned into additional differentiated service offerings or added savings to their end user.
*other reasons include open source base, flexibility, VM density and tenant isolation.
We have a competitor in the space who likes to use “v” in a lot of their feature names. A good rule of thumb to find the corresponding feature in XenServer is to replace “v” with “Xen”. XenMotion is our live migration feature that allows you to move VMs from one host in a pool to another provided that the pool has shared storage attached. This has been available in our free version since 2009.
Storage XenMotion is a brand new feature that we released with XenServer 6.1. This feature enables you to move VMs between hosts without the requirement of shared storage which lessens the hardware requirement/expense for both cloud providers using commodity hardware and SMBs with smaller environments. Storage XenMotion is available in our advanced version of XenServer.
Is there an easy way to get support for my environment, even if I’m running on free?
For those of you running a premium edition of XenServer (Advanced, Enterprise and Platinum) we recently changed our support model to offer unlimited, 24×7 support for paid editions of XenServer at about 7% of license cost. What does this mean to the free users out there? Well, it means you can no longer purchase support from Citrix for your XenServer environment. That being said, in addition to the incredible support you can get on the forums, we’ve also introduced a new Citrix Auto Support tool that can do a sanity check of your environment. Simply upload a log file and we’ll check for any issues that we recognize including missing patches, known bugs or configuration errors. This tool can be used for both free or paid editions, so try it out for yourself at http://taas.citrix.com.
A big thank you to our friends at Goliath Technologies who demoed their brand new version of MonitorIT on our XenServer Master Class. This solution delivers proactive monitoring of your entire environment right out of XenCenter or directly from a browser. What do we mean by “entire environment”? Virtual servers, physical servers, VDI, applications, databases, log management, network, storage, data center components, workstations – EVERYTHING! Do you have multiple hypervisors in your environment? Monitor your vSphere clusters straight from your XenCenter console using this product. You can go one step further and have MonitorIT proactively make changes to alleviate bottlenecks in your environment so the business can keep doing business without interruption. Don’t take my word for it, check out their free trial for yourself. They’ve even opened up their early access program so you can access all the great new features that they demoed on the show, register here: http://www.goliathtechnologies.com/earlyaccess/
Finally, what is punting?
We had our brilliant Manager of Product Development, David Cottingham, on the class to talk about how XenServer is developed and what we’re working on moving forward. Unfortunately, he may have raised more questions than answers when talking about his days ‘punting’ in Cambridge, UK. For this one, I will defer to Wikipedia to answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punt_(boat)
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