Citrix - XenSource sets the sales strategy

Opening up markets has been VMware's job and their strength.   Citrix-XenSource will need to be more than a me-too in server and desktop virtualization if it has any chance of coming in as a winner. One of the ways it might differentiate itself is in the focus it puts on the mid-tier enterprise market and on the SMBs.  It makes sense to deliver their product in OEM form and to develop the VAR strategy that targets precisely these sectors.  It's not that they'll be left alone to mine those markets. They'll need to differentiate their offer (as well as support their channels with a LOT of muscle).  The question in my mind is how they'll best deliver that differentiation.  Seems to me that open source technology that  supports XenSource would be among the most fruitful.

Citrix recruits OEMs, VARs to fuel open source virtualization growth

Citrix will release "a couple of announcements hopefully before the end of the year" detailing which major vendors will preinstall Citrix's XenExpress OEM Edition hypervisor on their servers, according to Matt Haynes, Citrix's director of sales strategies, channels and field marketing. "That OEM strategy will be part of our go-to-market strategy," he said.

The alliances may not move XenSource -- an open source virtualization developer Citrix acquired in August -- into parity with VMware Inc.'s market-leading software, but they should narrow the competition, Haynes said.

The agreements will be similar to the one VMware announced at last month's VMworld, under which VMware's ESX Server 3i hypervisor will be integrated with server hardware from Dell Inc., Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, NEC and others.


Citrix is also crafting a channel strategy to complement its technology and OEM push, Haynes said. Its goal over the next 18 months is to add 1,600 channel partners globally to sell the XenSource XenEnterprise version 4 open source virtualization software.

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We're about to see a philosophical battle waged in the trade press and in the third party market for the hearts and minds of CIOs and IT managers.  It's all about the best approach by which to manage a data center impacted by virtualization, particularly server virtualization.  Among the most fundamental issues will be whether today's approaches for managing the purely physical assets are amenable (with minor modification) for use with the virtual -- or whether the problem is so significantly different that the solutions must be rethought and retooled.

How to make virtualization add value - Computer Business Review

... The biggest issue with the current crop of systems management tools is that they all rely upon manual policy setting, which, in the virtual world, becomes even more complex than it currently is. Imagine monitoring hundreds of virtual machines (VMs) and receiving many different alerts, which must have a corresponding policy, or be reverted to an operator for intervention. When, in this scenario, the organization wants to monitor a complete business service executing different applications on a range of physical and virtual environments, this requires many separate point solutions to be configured and integrated.

Systems management tool vendors are only now responding to the rise of virtualization as a technology, which is set to become widely adopted in most data centers in the next two to three years. The problem with this late arrival is that management tools are perceived as playing catch-up with the technology, which is rapidly evolving into many different solution architectures. ...

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Back in harness...

After a week hiking in the mountains of northern Mexico, it's time to get back to work.  But, hopefully the afterglow will live on for a while.  What a great experience, and what a wonderful group of people we've found there.


The Ripples of OVF

I've been watching the blogosphere for reactions to OVF. This post from William Vambenepe is notable for two reasons.

First, he definitely understands the impact of OVF's ability to specify a collection of VMs as the ingredients of an appliance.  He's also correctly identified the inherent problem of network configuration and placement that this capability reveals.

The second reason for noting this post is his suggestion about how to handle the EULA that's incorporated into the OVF wrapper... a URI to a well-publicized collection of pre-approved (or at least, well vetted and understood) EULAs, so that unattended deployment of the appliance can be subject to automated policy enforcement.

William Vambenepe’s blog » Blog Archive » A review of OVF from a systems management perspective

I was very intrigued by the promise that the specification “directly
supports the configuration of multi-tier applications and the
composition of virtual machines to deliver composed services” but this
turns out to be a bit of an overstatement. Basically, you can
distribute the VMs across networks by specifying a network name for
each VM. I can easily understand the simple case, where all the VMs are on the
same network and talking to one another. But there is no way (that I
can see) to specify the network topology that joins different networks
together ...

Speaking of lawyers, the section that allows the EULA to be shipped with the virtual appliance is very simplistic. It’s just a human-readable piece of text in the OVF file. The specification somewhat naively mentions that “if unattended installs are allowed, all embedded license sections are implicitly accepted”. Great, thanks, enterprises love to implicitly accept licensing terms. I would hope that the next version will provide, at least, a way to have a URI to identify the EULA so that I can maintain a list of pre-approved EULAs for which unattended deployment is possible. Automation of IT management is supposed to makes things faster and cheaper. Having a busy and expensive lawyer read a EULA as part of my deployment process goes against both objectives. ...


Open Virtual Format - Portable VMs Get a Boost

Among the many important announcements that came out of VMWorld this past week, the announcement of OVF and the emergence of its details were among the most interesting.  What's also interesting is the way in which it was put together -- a collaborative effort by VMware and XenSource, with the likes of Dell, HP, IBM and Microsoft on the sidelines urging them on.

I'll have a lot more to say about the impact and potential of OVF, but for now I'd like to go out on a limb and say that this is a major development not only for the server virtualization sector, but in particular for the utility computing crowd.

DMTF Accepts New Format for Portable Virtual Machines

... Most importantly, OVF specifies procedures and technologies to permit integrity checking of the virtual machines (VM) to ensure that they have not been modified since the package was produced. This enhances the security of the format and will alleviate security concerns of users who adopt virtual appliances produced by third parties. OVF also provides mechanisms that support license checking for the enclosed VMs, addressing a key concern of both independent software vendors (ISVs) and customers. Finally, OVF allows an installed VM to acquire information about its host virtualization platform and run-time environment, which allows the VM to localize the applications it contains and optimize its performance for the particular virtualization environment. ...

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