Citrix + XenSource: Microsoft's worst nightmare or dream-come-true?

Citrix + XenSource: Microsoft's worst nightmare or dream-come-true?

Summary: Two Microsoft partners, Citrix and XenSource, have tied the knot. Microsoft should be ecstatic...or should it? Some say the Redmondians are not rejoicing over the new tie-up.

TOPICS: Microsoft

Two Microsoft partners, Citrix and XenSource, have tied the knot. Microsoft should be ecstatic...or should it?

Microsoft and Citrix have had a long and winding relationship, since 1997, when Citrix licensed its Multiple Windows technology to Microsoft. Citrix, for its part, got rights to the Windows Server source code and a joint-product deployment agreement -- plus an estimated $185 million. In the ensuing years, there was talk that Microsoft would end up competitng with and killing off Citrix, interspersed with talk of secret payments made by Microsoft to keep Citrix afloat (which Citrix has denied, by the way).

Microsoft and XenSource are newer partners. The two signed a pact in July 2006 to cooperate on technology that would provide interoperability between Linux systems running the Xen hypervisor and Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Server Virtualization hypervisor (codenamed "Viridian").

But the marriage of its two buddies isn't sitting well with Microsoft, according to Citrix and terminal-services expert Brian Madden.

"(E)verything that I've heard is that Microsoft is not happy about this. Again, now Citrix is going head-to-head with Microsoft in this market," Madden blogged.

A week ago, Madden blogged about the likelihood of Citrix buying XenSource. He noted that it would make a lot of sense for Citrix to own a hypervisor, given the growing likelihood that delivering users' desktops virtually will become the order of the day in the not-too-distant future.

"Citrix sees the value of delivering desktops. They have / will have this great ICA / Presentation Server-based product for doing so called 'Desktop Server.' They have a way to manage images with Ardence. They can track performance with EdgeSight. They can stream applications into the desktop with the application streaming capabilities of Presentation Server. Citrix has a complete solution except for one thing: a hypervisor," Madden noted on August 9.

And with Microsoft poised to add its own hypervisor (even in its less ambitious form) to Windows Server 180 days after Windows Server 2008 ships, its partner XenSource was set to become more of a head-to-head competitor.

"Even though Microsoft and XenSource are friends now, what do you think will happen as soon as Viridian is released? All of these 'partner' hypervisors will becoming 'competing' hypervisors overnight," Madden added. "It will be 'kill, or be killed." (After all, this is not the same thing as Citrix Presentation Server adding value to an obscure Windows Server feature. This will be about citrix replacing a key strategic Windows Server feature.)"

Now Citrix will be the one taking the brunt of the head-on Microsoft competition, Madden observed.

An open-source expert who requested anonymity, noted that while the XenSource buy makes a lot of sense for Citrix -- in terms of giving the company a solution that offers some of what virtualization market-leader VMWare does not -- it won't be a slam-dunk success for Citrix.

"If they (Citrix) merged the Citrix server with XenEnterprise, you would have something VMware does not. It's certainly a deal which I never considered, but now that I am thinking about it, it might be very good for Citrix and XenSource," he said.

However, he noted, "Citrix will need to come to speed on the workings of the open source community very quickly, and obviously, their (Citrix's) very close relationship with Microsoft will fall under scrutiny." That said, "they may be the player which is able to broker relationships with open source companies and Microsoft."

What's your take on what the Citrix purchase of XenSource will mean to Microsoft and its customers? Is this good news for the Redmondians, or nothing for the Softies to celebrate?

Topic: Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Looks like the giant is starting to lose

    it's teeth and influence! I mean if their own partner is going to pull a Microsoft on them! You know, get in all chummy then stab them in the back! So now karma returns... ]:)
    Linux User 147560
    • bot?

      Are you a bot?
      • moving up with the likes of No_ax

        making your expert assumptions I see.
      • No, he is just a fool.

        Pay him no mind.
        • There ya go again!

          Looking in the mirror! ]:)
          Linux User 147560
          • Yup, calling you a fool is normal for everyone here.

            Even the Linux guys can't stand your stupidity.
          • Really?

            Is that why they (the Linux guy's) don't ever seem to "attack" me but tear your hiney to shreds? Dude you are about totally disillusioned to reality here at ZDNet. At least I will stand up when called out and if I am wrong at least I have the cajoles to admit it, something you don't have and never have done on these boards. Care to assess again? ]:)
            Linux User 147560
          • ummm, erm ...

            That would be, I think, "cajones"
            Jambalaya Breath
      • Nope!

        Just speaking the unequivocal and oh so apparent to all that are not deaf dumb and blind truth. ]:)
        Linux User 147560
        • Actually ... it's usually ignorance and dreaming...

          ...not reality. But the name says it all.
  • Hard to say as MS has more or less pulled out

    of the VM business and instead are building tools to manage VMs across large networks. It would make a lot of sense to bundle the tools in with Windows Server making management of VM environments easier for IT.
    • Rape interruptus?

      [i]Hard to say as MS has more or less pulled out of the VM business and instead are building tools to manage VMs across large networks.[/i]

      Nice face-saving explanation, that.

      What was MS' market share before "pulling out" again?
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • They never released a product.

        They did release a couple pre-beta's but never a finished product before the decision to pull out was made. In this case I think its a pretty smart move. As always, if the market doesn't go the way they expect they can always put the project back on the burner.
        • Wrong, but no big surprise...

          They've decided to go the path of Internet they've decided to give the product away. Both Virtual Server and Virtual PC are now free downloads. They'll market it, but as part of the operating system.
          • Not wrong, better read again.

            Read the download page, yes you may download it, but it is NOT a supported product. Translation - It is not going to be a product going forward.
          • Now you're just blatantly lying

            Nowhere does Microsoft say VS or VPC are not supported products. In fact, the Virtual Server download page states the following at the intro:

            "Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 is a cost-effective and well supported server virtualization technology for the Windows Server System? platform."

            Furthermore, the Product Support Specialist (PSS) team that does performance and setup support of Windows has explicitly listed in its realm of support "VirtualPC and Virtual Server". Every single person on that team is expected to field support calls related to it.

            Finally, as for being supported going forward, if you would read the front page of Windows Server 2008, the second bulleted item under Product Highlights is:

            Virtualize multiple operating systems ? Windows, Linux and others ? on a single server. With virtualization built into the operating system and with simpler, more flexible licensing policies, it?s now easier than ever to take advantage of all the benefits and cost savings of virtualization.

            Windows Server 2008 provides you with the flexibility to create an agile and dynamic datacenter to meet your changing business needs."

            If its going to be "built into the operating system" its a technology going forward that will absolutely be supported.

            If you want to discuss something constructive, no_ax, at least say something close to factual and stop spewing your usual false information.

  • Well, DUH!

    [i]But the marriage of its two buddies isn?t sitting well with Microsoft, according to Citrix and terminal-services expert Brian Madden.[/i]

    I'd be torqued off too, if someone screwed up my "divide and conquer" roadmap.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Are you sure?

      [i]I'd be torqued off too, if someone screwed up my "divide and conquer" roadmap[/i]

      Are you sure much of what the article states is relevent, or true?

      [i]talk of secret payments made by Microsoft to keep Citrix afloat (which Citrix has denied, by the way)[/i]

      [i]An open-source expert who requested anonymity[/i]

      "Secret pacts and mysterious open source experts", Hmmmm.
  • Mary was this deal started last year ???

    From your article "The two signed a pact in July 2006 "
    • Clarification

      Hi. The Microsoft-XenSource pact was forged in 2006. Sorry if that was unclear. Not the Citrix-XenSource one. However, a number of news outlets and blogs (including had some good educated guesses a week ago that the Citrix-XenSource deal was in the works.
      Mary Jo Foley