Citrix releases cloud suite, new XenServer 5

The company has introduced a cloud-computing suite based on XenServer and released an update to the server virtualisation software
Written by Peter Judge, Contributor

Citrix Systems has launched a cloud-computing suite based on its XenServer virtualisation technology, a new version of which was also released on Monday.

The Citrix Cloud Center (C3) group of virtualisation and networking products is designed for companies that provide services 'in the cloud'; that is, delivered by remote servers accessed over the internet.

It uses a new 'cloud edition' of XenServer for server virtualisation and all the products needed to deliver cloud services, Citrix said.

It also provides the ability to import Linux virtual machines and Windows Server 2008 virtual machines created for Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor, and includes application delivery using Citrix NetScaler, plus workflow support.

"While the concept of cloud computing may be new, the components that make up Citrix C3 are among the most proven in the industry, starting with the Xen hypervisor that powers hundreds of the world's largest cloud providers today, and extending out to NetScaler, which delivers web applications to an estimated 75 percent of all internet users each day," Wes Wasson, senior vice president of Citrix Systems, said in a statement.

The suite's architecture is described on Citrix's website.

Citrix on Monday also introduced XenServer version 5, which adds storage virtualisation and integration with Microsoft's Windows Server 2008. It also adds high availability support, through a partnership with Marathon Technologies, that automates the restoration of failed servers and virtual machines.

"It's a common mistake to assume that virtualisation provides high availability on its own, but when a server dies, you need policies to keep copies and relaunch them automatically," John Glendenning, vice president EMEA of server virtualisation at Citrix, told ZDNet.co.uk. It also allows disaster recovery, restoring a whole site at a different location, using the virtualisation pool's metadata.

The announcement hit the right note with observers: "XenServer went from 0 to robust [high availability] features," said Shannon Snowden, a partner at virtualisation consultants New Age Technologies, which works with Xen and rival VMware, writing in a blog. "It's important to point out that these are built-in features, not bolted on as a separate product."

Citrix XenSource has also boosted XenServer's ability to handle storage. "First-generation virtualisation requires you to rip out your storage software infrastructure and implement a different infrastructure for your virtual servers," Glendenning said. "Our solution integrates directly with the storage you have."

Storage features from existing hardware, such as snapshotting, cloning, replication, de-duplication and provisioning, can be used directly in the XenServer management console, Glendenning explained. The new management console supports storage environments including NAS (network attached storage), DAS (direct attached storage) and SAN (storage area networks), over both fibre channel and iSCSI.

XenServer version 5 now has performance monitoring, reporting and alerting dashboards for real-time views of virtual machine and host performance. It also supports dynamic workload partitioning, so administrators can boot many workloads from a single image, with one click.

Citrix claims these features provide an immediate reduction of up to 80 percent in the storage required by common enterprise applications.

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