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 …..

 

 

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

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.

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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.

Changes:

  • 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.

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Project VRC: Clock drift and test results

VRCProject Virtual Reality Check finally posted a new document about previous results and possible clock drift when using the “Login Virtual Session Indexer (VSI)”.  Previous test setups and results didn’t take into account how different hypervisors handle passing time.

In my opinion this is a serious setback to Project VRC which is considered an institute in the virtualization world. People will start questioning the results when no new tests will be performed.

Below is a description from the Project VRC website explaining the new whitepaper they published on September 14th 2009. This is a must read for people that already did some testing as well as new tests. In short: ‘Because of Windows clock behavior in virtual machines the results were affected and some hypervisors may come out better than they really are.

This whitepaper is a review and reflection on previous Project VRC publications, the benchmark: “Login Virtual Session Indexer (VSI)” and Windows clock behavior within virtual machines.  This discussion is fueled by the fact that results from the individual Project VRC whitepapers are set side-by-side to compare hypervisors. Project VRC has been in discussion with both vendors and community, and performed additional research in this context. Before Project VRC can publish new results, it is important to address any questions, review the impact of this discussion and improve VSI where possible.

You can download it at www.projectvrc.nl

The major conclusions in this Whitepaper are:

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Our first XEN-Experience, a XenServer 5.5 testdrive

As I am in the final week before my holiday and all projects are finished, I thought it might be a good idea to check out the competition. So I downloaded the free version of Citrix’s XenServer 5.5 to see what the fuss is all about.

First I tried to install it on a spare desktop at home (P4 2,4GHz CPU, 2GB RAM) but this failed, probably because the CPU doesn’t supply Intel VT.

Yesterday at work I grabbed two desktops with a Core2Duo E6400 with Intel VT and 4GB of RAM and installed Citrix XenServer 5.5 on it.

XenConsoleThe installation is pretty straightforward, much like ESXi, and in about 5-10 minutes you will have a XenServer up and running. The first thing I noticed is that the console is very feature rich. We all know the yellow/gray console of an ESXi server and all you can do is basic configuration tasks like set an IP address, DNS server and default gateway, give the server its name, do a few tests and that’s about it. The console of a XenServer has a lot more features. Next to all ESXi-like features you can start and stop virtual machines, configure storage, resource pools and licensing, configure back-up, restore and updates.

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