Citrix moves to integrate XenSource's technology

Now that Citrix has completed its acquistion of XenSource, one would expect an announcement in which the company tried to put all the pieces together into an integrated story. Can you guess what the company just did?

Now that Citrix has completed its acquistion of XenSource, one would expect an announcement in which the company tried to put all the pieces together into an integrated story. Can you guess what the company just did? Right, presented an integrated story. Since the two companies worked together in the past and both of them had strong relationships with mutual partners, the integrated story line is better than one would think.

How Citrix presents the integrated message

By acquiring XenSource, Citrix is now the only company to offer organizations an end-to-end application delivery infrastructure that leverages the method of application, desktop and server virtualization best suited for the dynamic delivery of applications to any user.

Most IT organizations have taken an incremental approach to application delivery. There is widespread agreement that traditional approaches to application deployment are too static, too complex, and cost too much to maintain. This becomes painfully clear when businesses are faced with change. Citrix offers a new and different approach – Application Delivery Infrastructure – which gives IT a pragmatic, strategic solution to become an enabler of business change rather than a road block.

On February 11th Citrix will be announcing the Citrix Delivery Center, a new overarching product family brand for its premise-based application delivery infrastructure solutions.

The Citrix Delivery Center product family includes the four primary product lines that make up Citrix's premise-based end-to-end application delivery infrastructure offerings. The closely related products are often deployed and used in conjunction with one another, but customers have the flexibility and choice to buy any combination of the four products.

  • Citrix XenServer, Platinum Edition
  • Citrix Virtual App Server, Platinum Edition (formerly Citrix Presentation Server)
  • Citrix NetScaler, Platinum Edition
  • Citrix XenDesktop, Platinum Edition

The Citrix Delivery Center product family will also include a new tool, Citrix Workflow Studio, designed to help customers orchestrate delivery of applications across the Citrix Delivery Center, as well as with other non-Citrix products and technologies. The Citrix Workflow Studio allows administrators to compose workflows on a graphical canvas with no scripting, orchestrate between multiple Citrix products with ease, and quickly integrate Citrix products with third party technologies. The Tech Preview is available for free download in Q2.

How Citrix presents its portfolo

  • Citrix EdgeSight™ — management tool making it possible for IT administrators to monitor application performance.
  • Citrix WANScaler™ — network caching tool to accelerate application delivery (might be thought of as a form of network virtualization)
  • Citrix Access Gateway™ — secure (SSL based) virtual private network environment (might also be thought of as a form of network virtualization and security for virtualized resources)
  • Citrix NetScaler™ — application virtualization tool that encapsulates, compresses and then delivers applications
  • Citrix XenAppServer™ — one of the most successful forms of access virtualizaiton for Windows-based applications (formally known as Citrix Presentation Server). At one point, Citrix offered a version of this software for Solaris. It really wasn't able to compete with X-Windows that largely did the same thing and came with the operating system at no additional charge. Since many Thin Client devices and PCs running Windows could present applicationns using either Citrix's ICA protocol or X11, there was little need for organizations to adopt Citrix's software on Unix.

Let's not forget another form of client application delivery. Citrix will shortly be offering its own equivalent to VMware's VDI. It's called Citrix XenDesktop

Citrix hasn't left out datacenter virtualization either.

  • Citrix Provisioning Server for Datacenters — an application virtualization tool for server environments. It encapsulates operating systems, applications and then compresses them for delivery over a network.
  • Citrix XenServer 4.1 — this is the new release of a family of virtual machine software/management software products based upon the open source Xen hypervisor. Versions are offered that include ways to deploy virtual machines, monitor their performance, manage the resources they're using and migrate them from one physical machine to another.

Snapshot Analysis

Citrix is presenting the formally disconnected tools from Citrix and XenSource as if it was a well-planned attempt to cover much of the top layers of the virtualization software market. Since Citrix and XenSource had been partners in the past, much of these messages and the technology supporting them had been carefully worked out before. It's clearly an impressive story, one that is expected to challenge VMware and other virtualization software competitors.

Citrix, of course, doesn't have a complete story but, if we add the stories from Citrix's friends, just about every aspect of virtualization software is covered. High performance computing can be addressed for commercial organizations can be addressed by Digipede. HA/failover can be addressed by SteelEye. Network virtualization and storage virtualization are addressed by an impressive array of industry leaders.

Pricing appears to be the single sticking point to the story. IT decision-makers are likely to do a simple internet check and come up with the erroneous conclusion that virtual machine software from Microsoft costs about $25/physical server and Citrix XenServer costs a great deal more (more than 100 times that price). I think that people would be wise to take the time to first understand what their organization really needs, how their going to architect a solution to address those needs and only then compare prices, features and functions.

In a quick snapshot analysis, the product portfolio appears comprehensive and powerful. Getting decision makers past the pricing is going to be somewhat of a challenge. Competitors, such as Red Hat, Novell/SUSE and Virtual Iron (all of whom are also using the Xen hypervisor) are going to be able to address segments of what the broad Citrix portfolio offers at a lower price point.

Will your organization jump at the lowest price or will it consider requirements, an architecture to answer those needs and then select products?


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