XenSource CTO: Dell Deal Takes Virtualization Mainstream

It's been a busy week for XenSource. Citrix Systems on Monday disclosed the completion of its $500 million acquisition of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company as it kicked off its iForum 2007 App Delivery Expo. A day later, Citrix unveiled the partnership with Dell, which will see the Citrix XenServer OEM Edition built into Dell PowerEdge servers. Citrix also revealed its desktop virtualization strategy and inked a reseller agreement with Hewlett-Packard.

"The most profound change of all is happening now, which is the hypervisor being embedded into hardware. It should be in the box when you get it," said Simon Crosby, CTO and founder of XenSource, during a keynote address at the Interop conference, which is produced by CMP Technology, the parent of CMP Channel. "As the technology becomes an option on every x86 server that goes out the door, that's how you drive virtualization into the mass market."

Citrix XenServer OEM Edition is XenSource's embedded virtualization platform, which was introduced in September and designed as a pre-installed, integrated component for servers. Under the agreement with Dell, both Citrix XenServer OEM Edition and Citrix XenServer Enterprise Edition will be resident in the firmware of the system, enabling customers to upgrade from OEM Edition to Enterprise Edition via a software license key.

Crosby contrasted XenSource's market approach with that of rival VMware, noting that with its open-source roots, XenSource is seeking to simplify and lower the cost of virtualization to ensure widespread adoption.

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"Our desire is to completely commoditize the entire platform and deliver it as quickly and as cheaply as possible to deliver virtualization everywhere," Crosby said. "We want virtualization to simply be a component of the stack."

Crosby noted that while VMware is currently the dominant player in the virtualization space, less than 10 percent of the market has been penetrated, leaving tremendous opportunity for XenSource and its channel partners.

One of the key benefits to XenSource of its acquisition by Citrix is access to a broader base of channel partners, Crosby said. With the buyout, XenSource now has access to Citrix's 5,000 solution providers, up from the 350 it is already working with.

"We needed to scale from a channel perspective and we needed to scale our resources," Crosby said of the benefits the acquisition will bring. "We will be getting those partners up to speed very quickly."