Today we’re pleased to announce the release of XenServer 7.3, which includes a raft of new features and improvements. Whilst you can read all about exactly what’s in that release over on the release announcement blog, I wanted to provide clarity on the changes we’re making to the Free Edition of XenServer as part of the release.
As many of you will be aware, XenServer is available in three editions: Free, Standard, and Enterprise. All of them are installed from the same ISO, and all are equally open source. The Standard edition is almost identical to the Free edition in terms of feature set, but includes commercial support and an extended period of hotfix availability from Citrix, whilst the Enterprise edition enables a variety of additional features.
Having carefully considered what features are in each edition, we’ve taken the decision to move some features out of the Free edition, and into Standard.
The full list of features being moved is:
- Dynamic Memory Control
- Xen Storage Motion
- Active Directory Integration
- Role Based Access Control
- High Availability
- GPU Pass-Through
- Site Recovery Manager (Disaster Recovery)
- XenCenter Rolling Pool Upgrade Wizard
- Maximum Pool Size Restricted To 3 Hosts (existing larger pools will continue to work, but no new host joins will be permitted)
This will therefore make the Standard edition substantially different to the Free edition. No features are moving from Free to Enterprise. You can find all of the details in the full XenServer 7.3 feature matrix.
I suspect many readers will be asking “why?”. We have thousands of customers who trust XenServer to host their workloads, and we need to make sure we can invest in the product for them. Of the many thousands of customers using the Free edition, we hope that those using it for large deployments (and likely to be using the features above) will consider purchasing a subscription to enable access not just to the features above, but also the patch/hotfix stream for each release for an extended period (roughly 7 months from release versus 3 months for Free users), access to Long Term Service Releases (up to 10 years of maintenance) and support services from Citrix.
I realise that this news will be difficult for people who make use of the Free edition of XenServer in larger environments. We have looked carefully at how the revised Free edition compares to other free virtualisation platforms on the market, and concluded that even with this change, XenServer’s free feature set is still great for small deployments or home labs. Evidently Citrix will continue to add functionality to all three editions in the future: as you can see from 7.3 release notes, there is plenty going on!