Bye bye Citrix XenServer

As we are in the week of the obituaries, let’s do another one. A few weeks ago when vSphere 5.5 was release I updated our Enterprise Hypervisor Comparison. As Citrix and Red Hat both had released a new version of their hypervisor product I also added those. Normally I only need to check for new features added or product limits which have been upgraded. But this time was different!

In the column with the new Citrix XenServer 6.2 I had to remove feature which were previously included in the product. WTF?

I rarely come across any XenServer deployments and when I speak to colleagues, customers, etc. I often hear Citrix XenServer is dead. Based on the number of XenServer deployments I see and the number of customers changing to Hyper-V or vSphere this seems to support this theory. Instead of adding new features and upgrading product limits, I had to retire numerous features.

Features retired in XenServer 6.2:

  • Workload Balancing and associated functionality (e.g. power-consumption based consolidation);
  • XenServer plug-in for Microsoft’s System Center Operations Manager;
  • Virtual Machine Protection and Recovery (VMPR);
  • Web Self Service;
  • XenConvert (P2V).

Features with no further development and removal in future releases:

  • Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) support;
  • Integrated StorageLink (iSL);
  • Distributed Virtual Switch (vSwitch) Controller (DVSC). The Open vSwitch remains fully supported and developed.


It has never been a secret that Microsoft and Citrix joined forces but as expected Citrix XenServer had no place there as Microsoft invested big on Hyper-V. But now it seems that Citrix has killed XenServer. With version 6.2 they moved XenServer to a fully open source model essentially giving it back to the community. Of course much of XenServer already was open source, using code from the Xen Project, Linux kernel and the Cloud Platform (XCP) initiative. But with the retirement of many existing features it seems that Citrix is stripping XenServer from all Citrix add-ons before giving the basic core back to the open source community.

Citrix still delivers a supported commercial distribution of XenServer but when an identical free version is available …… At the feature and functionality level, the only difference is that the free version of  XenServer will not be able to use XenCenter for automated installation of security fixes, updates and maintenance releases. Free Citrix XenServer does include XenCenter for server management, but not patch management. I doubt many customers will buy a version of XenServer for patch management alone.

It’s interesting to see Gartner has moved Citrix outside the leaders Quadrant and placed it in the visionaries Quadrant. Visionaries in the x86 server virtualization infrastructure market have a differentiated approach or product, but they aren’t meeting their potential from an execution standpoint.

Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure 2012.PNGMagic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure 2013.PNG


So it looks like Citrix has given up on XenServer and is going to focus on their core business, the desktop and the ecosystem of products around it.

Within their partnership with Microsoft they cannot or may not compete with Hyper-V although XenServer has,in the past, always been a better product than Hyper-V. With the battle on application delivery intensifying, their focus needs to be on their main portfolio. VMware is targeting Citrix’s application delivery platform with VMware Horizon Workspace and on the desktop front Citrix faces two enemies. Where Microsoft Remote Desktop Services is targeting their Server BAsed Computing/XenApp platform and VMware Horizon View is battling Citrix XenDesktop.

I wonder when we will hear that Citrix finally killed XenServer …..



VMworld 2013 USA – Day 1 – Pictures and slides

VMworld 2013.png

Yesterday the show really kicked off! A lot of sessions, some small news is still pretty big, like the coming support voor XenApp published apps in Horizon. Check out the slides at the end of the slideshow.

How does VMware vSphere 5.5 compare to the competition?

VMworld 2013.png

Yesterday VMware release vSphere 5.5 which includes many new features and enhancements, again raising the bar for the competition.

But how does VMware vSphere 5.5 relate to Microsoft Server 2012 Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer 6.2 or RedHat RHEV 3.2? Check out our new Enterprise Hypervisor comparison in which I added the new vSphere 5.5 features and enhancements.

Cost analysis: VMware Horizon View vs Citrix XenDesktop

View vs XenDesktop

When I’m advising customers on desktop solutions it’s an obvious battle between VMware, Citrix and Microsoft.

Customers are becoming more and more cost aware due to the economic circumstances but the demand for audio/video and real time communication is growing. When Server Based Computing (SBC) is a viable option customers tend to compare Citrix XenApp to Microsoft Terminal Services.

When applications or customer demands require a VDI solution, it’s a battle between VMware Horizon View and Citrix XenDesktop.

Because companies are extremely cost aware nowadays, it’s not only a feature-based comparison but they must also look carefully at cost. Principled Technologies, compared Microsoft Windows 7 virtual desktops hosted on VMware Horizon View 5.2 and Citrix XenDesktop 5.6.

Hosted on the same physical hardware resources and using similar image rendering settings, they conducted scale testing with the Login VSI medium workload.  They found that VMware Horizon View 5.2 supported 174 Microsoft Windows 7 virtual desktop sessions at a cost per user of $483 Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 supported 175 sessions at a cost of $820 per user.


VMware continues to lead

The virtualization landscape is evolving. Nowadays two-thirds of x86 server workloads are virtualized, the market is mature and competitive and enterprises are evaluating the cost-benefits of switching technologies more than ever.

For years and years VMware has been the clear market leader but Microsoft and Citrix have been trying to close the gap. Besides those three virtual giants, RedHat, Oracle and Parallels have been trying to get a piece of the pie.

Last week Gartner published their annual Magic Quadrant for x86 Server virtualization. Let’s see how the virtualization landscape has changed in the last year.

magic quadrant 2013When we compare this magic quadrant with the one from 2012, we see that Oracle, Parallels and RedHat maintain the niche players. Personally I’ve never come across any Oracle, Parallels or RedHat virtual environments and I’ve seen my share of companies, from smaller SMB to large enterprises.

When we look at the big three, Citrix, Microsoft and VMware, we see that Citrix dropped out of the magic upper-right quadrant. Why?


Enterprise Hypervisor feature comparison (RHEV added)

Back by popular demand, the Enterprise Hypervisor feature comparison.

After the release of our latest comparison I’ve received a lot of requests to include RedHat’s RHEV to the comparison. Although I’ve never encountered it in enterprise environments, I decided to add it as a service to our readers.

I based the RedHat features on their 3.1 version which is in beta right now. This is because I’ve limited knowledge of the product and I received an updated comparison from one of our readers based on this version.

I hope you find the new Enterprise Hypervisor comparison useful and feel free to contact us when you have feedback for us to improve the list.

NEW Enterprise Hypervisor comparison

Two weeks ago VMware released the new version of their vSphere hypervisor, so it’s time to update our Enterprise Hypervisor comparison. It very impressive to see how quick VMware has reacted to the Hyper-V 3 announcements and has taken most of the wind out of the Microsoft sails.

I hope you find the new Enterprise Hypervisor comparison useful and feel free to contact us when you have feedback for us to improve the list.
The information on Microsoft Server 2012 Hyper-V features is very inconsistent, many different values out there.

In this version I added 10 new criteria. Many of these criteria should, in my opinion, be available in hypervisors suitable for enterprise environments.

You can find the new and improved Enterprise Hypervisor comparison here.

Last update: August 27th, 2013

StarWind Offers Free NFR Licenses for Lab Testing, Demonstration, and Training Purposes

Starwind is an innovative company and one of the first to offer an iSCSI initiator on the Microsoft Windows platform without a lot of hassle. The company offers Not For Resale (NFR) licenses to some specific groups of IT professionals.

If you hold or are one of the following:

  • VMware vExpert
  • VMware Certified Instructor (VCI)
  • Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP)
  • Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
  • Citrix Technology Professional (CTP)
  • Citrix Certified Instructor (CCI).

you can get a free NFR license for its best-of-breed High Availability SAN solutions software to fuel your Lab. What do you need to do?


Update: Storage optimization with Atlantis

Since my article on ‘Storage Optimization with Atlantis‘ on April 3rd, I’ve been in contact with Atlantis and got some additional information I would like to share with you.

First of all, in the article it says the following:

Another point of interest is, does Atlantis live up to the promises made regarding the alleged savings of up to 90%? Of course these numbers are sales numbers and it’s up to 90%. But recently I heard about some Atlantis test results from renowned industry parties, which aren’t so positive as the sales number want you to believe. The first tests do show a huge decrease of read I/O but they also show an increase in write I/O. Now, I don’t want to claim that the myth is busted, further investigation and testing is required, but you should definitely try before you buy.

The issues mentioned above where discovered by our colleagues from PQR and also by the Cisco VXI team. But according to Atlantis, they have already corrected this issue.

The issue with the linked clones was caused by mis-alignment of the redo logfile because of the VMware View Composer and linked clone format.  Atlantis released anew version which is able to treat a linked clone specifically for this issue and correct misaligned writes.

According to Atlantis, the PQR team has already retested Atlantis ILIO and found good write offload as promised.

The second item I would like to share, is a concern Anne Jan raised when using Atlantis ILIO.


Updated Enterprise hypervisor comparison

During the last few years we published several Enterprise Hypervisor comparisons and we got very positive comments and feedback on it. With the release of vSphere 5, XenServer 6 and a service pack for Hyper-V it was time for an update.

It very interesting to see how some of the products have improved over the years and how the three major manufacturers look at each other and copy features. But you can’t trust all manufacturers by just a simple green checkbox. Some claimed features need third party add-ons, aren’t suitable for production workloads or are only supported on a limited set of operating systems. You have to investigate further and I hope I’ve done most of that work for you with this new enterprise hypervisor comparison.


View 4.6 vs XenDesktop 5

VMwareThe competition in the VDI space is fierce and VMware is slowly closing the gap with the features their products are offering compared to the competition.

Although the gap is closing VMware is still very much in the lead when it comes to setting up and administrating the virtual environment.

XenDesktopOn the YouTube channel vmwareview there are four video’s released showing some administrating tasks for both VMware view 4.6 and Citrix XenDesktop 5.

Each video aims at a different task:


VMware is still the best! Virtualisation Shootout april 2011 Virtualisation Shootout april 2011

Of course we all knew that already :) Paul Venezia posted an in depth article on Infoworld where he compares the four main server virtualization software competitors on a selection of criteria.

Now, you can nit-pick on the measurements he made or the criteria he has chosen, but in general I think it’s a solid test of up-to-date versions.

The best conclusions I can draw from his report are these:

VMware might not always be the cheapest, VMware might not always be the one with the highest speeds.. but VMware is still the one with the most diverse OS support (any x86 OS can be virtualized), the best management toolkit and the most reliable architecture.



Comparing RemoteFX to RDP, ICA/HDX, EOP and PCoIP

One of my coworkers pointed me to a video from this years Tech-Ed Europe about VDI protocols. Bernhard Tritsch did an interesting comparison between the different remote protocols used in today’s VDI solutions. In a 60 minute session Bernhard explains the differences between location (host vs client), type (hardware vs software) rendering and compression types (lossless vs lossy).

Although the results aren’t that good for PCoIP (software version) it still is a very interesting video.

Get Microsoft Silverlight

McAfee MOVE anti-virus

Last week we had a meeting with a McAfee Sales Engineer and he told us something I have been waiting for for a long time.

McAfee now has a product especially for virtualized environments, McAfee MOVE (Management for Optimized Virtual Environments). After Trend Micro, McAfee is now the second anti-virus company, that I know of, which has a product especially for virtual environments.

McAfee’s Management for Optimized Virtual Environments (MOVE) platform is combines speed ad security by significantly reducing the overhead of protecting individual machines in a VMware or Citrix virtual environment. Support for Microsoft Hyper-V is not available yet.

McAfee MOVE does this by offloading all anti-virus tasks to an appliance/server which needs to be installed on each ESX host or XenServer in a cluster. The only McAfee components which needs to be installed on the virtual server or desktop is the McAfee MOVE client and the ePO agent.


New Enterprise Hypervisor comparison


Last year we published an Enterprise Hypervisor comparison and we got very positive comments and feedback on it.

During the last few weeks I received many update requests so I decided to update the old hypervisor comparison but this time I changed the setup a bit.


  • No beta or pre-release versions are used. In the last document we also compared Hyper-V R2 beta which wasn’t officially released.
    This time all software is available and no features are subject to change due to beta-test, etc.;
  • The versions used are the platinum/ultimate/fully-featured versions of the hypervisors. Product features can be limited by lower license versions;
  • No free versions have been used in this comparison.


Trade in XenApp for VMware View part 2

It is always nice to see how Citrix fan-boys reacts on publications about VMware View. Especially when it comes to an comparison or XenApp for View trade in. It is often said that Citrix listens to their customers but they are seldom heard! People need simple solutions in a complex IT world. Why pay for a very high end piece of engineering like a Ferrari if I can get the job done with a Volkswagen! OK, it is nice to have a car that nobody else has and can do 320 km/h but in times were budgets are under pressure, I have a hard time defending expensive, complex and high-end solutions.

The fact that VDI is putting a significant load on the storage is true, but that counts for every VDI solutions including XenDesktop, so no differences there. Also the new upcoming version of View includes a basic profile management solution “Persona Management”. Which makes the use of linked clones a very workable solution.

When you compare installing View and XenDesktop you will see the following diagram.













When it comes down to management consoles the two solutions also look very different.


Trade in XenApp for VMware View

As a reaction on the Citrix program to trade in your VMware View licenses for XenDesktop, VMware comes with a program to trade in your XenApp licenses for VMware View.

The trade in program is quite simple: For the price of 3 years XenApp SA (€ 182,-) you will get View Premier and 3 years SnS.

VMware’s offer differs from the one from Citrix in a few way’s.


A ‘real life’ View, XenDesktop, Microsoft VDI comparison

After attending the dutch Citrix Partner Exchange 2010 I realized that there is a lot of FUD out there:

  • in the Citrix community with regards to VMware View and PCoIP;
  • with me personally with regards to XenDesktop (no F, but a lot of UD)

This is also what we saw when Alex shared his experience with Citrix XenDesktop, which was not so positive, and we got a lot of comments comparing XenDesktop to VMware View.

But the Citrix Partner Exchange got me interested in XenDesktop and XenClient and I decided to do a little research. Then I came across Brian Maddens site to find that he had just finished his ‘Geek week VDI‘ in which he did a ‘real life’ lab-test with VMware, Citrix and Microsoft VDI. They tested all three vendor in their lab environment but added a WAN ‘simulator’ to create real life and worst case scenarios by introducing packet loss and latency.

And honestly I was surprised by some of their their conclusions. Not because I have no faith in Brian Madden but because I know Brian Madden to be a real Citrix enthusiast and a PCoIP critic. At the end he was very honest by admitting that Citrix XenDesktop looks like a mash-up of a bunch of different things, he was surprised by the simple, straightforward installation and configuration of VMware View and the good performance of PC-o-IP.

So bottom line?

  • VMware View shines because of simplicity and has good user experience even with PC-o-IP over a WAN connection.
  • XenDesktop is, at the moment, certainly the more mature and complete product but it’s complexity is a drawback.
  • And Microsoft ‘in box’ VDI? Well as expected, it’s complex, not enterprise ready and it’s no match for Citrix or VMware.

So as always, there is no clear winner, it all depends on the customer’s wishes.

Special thanks to Brian Madden and his team for creating this great VDI test!

I won’t summarize the total VDI test, you can read it yourself here but I will quote some of the conclusions which I found to be very interesting.