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Parallels' Serguei Beloussov speaks out on free XenServer

Parallels' CEO, Serguei Beloussov, has published his opinion regarding Citrix's recent announcement that they were making a free edition of XenServer available (see Citrix launches a free version of XenServer and Citrix Essentials for more information). Let's hear what he has to say and review his comments.

Parallels' CEO, Serguei Beloussov, has published his opinion regarding Citrix's recent announcement that they were making a free edition of XenServer available (see Citrix launches a free version of XenServer and Citrix Essentials for more information). Let's hear what he has to say and review his comments.

Here's what he had to say

“It comes as no surprise to us that Citrix is offering XenServer for free.  We predicted this would happen as most Citrix customers are really just looking for a well-supported Windows platform, and since Microsoft launched Hyper-V, they can get what they need directly from source. To really get value from Citrix, customers need to buy a Windows license anyway, so they may as well get their virtualization engine included."

“XenServer was really never a serious threat in the SMB, service provider or even enterprises spaces, though Citrix has enjoyed success with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure due to XenApp (formerly Citrix Presentation Server), effectively an extension to Microsoft Terminal Server. This will probably continue to be the case, even though its close connection with Microsoft does not always help its cause."

“I make the further prediction that Citrix will stop developing XenServer altogether since it is not needed to make XenApp work.  This will signal the eventual end of XEN.  You really have to applaud Microsoft’s Server group here: XEN could have been a serious competitor to them, but instead it ended up being a partner and technology provider.  Now, when the difficult economic climate could have created considerable opportunities for the open source XEN offering, it is instead largely out of the picture due to its relationship with Citrix, and by extension with Microsoft."

“Either way, this is good for us: as the proliferation of virtualization increases, users need automation solutions that enable them to increase their return on investment and reduce the total cost of ownership associated with managing complex IT infrastructures.  Automation is what we have been doing for the past ten years and we have a proven track record of working with organizations of all sizes to simplify and streamline their IT management.”

Snapshot analysis

As I pointed out in my post Parallels Summit - a conversation with Sergei Beloussov, Serguei is a fascinating man having the ability to pick up data here and there and integrate it into an interesting vision. Regardless of your view of the probability of his predictions coming true, his comments demonstrate that ability once again.

I'd like to further the industry conversation by adding my thoughts, opinions and otherwise odd thinking on this.

  • Since Citrix offers technology for Windows, Mac OS and Linux, to say Windows is their only platform is not accurate. While it is true that Windows is the primary platform for their XenApp (formally Presentation Server) and that product produces a large percentage of Citrix's revenues, Citrix covers quite a bit more territory that just Windows if all of their products and technology is considered.
  • Since Red Hat, SUSE, the other Linux distributions and Virtual Iron are all targeting the SMB space by offering technology based upon or including Xen, it isn't really accurate to say that Xen isn't being seen in that market. I don't have Citrix's shipment figures for XenServer. So, I can't agree or disagree that XenServer is seldom seen in the SMB market. What is true is that each instence of Xen out there is an opportunity for Citrix to come in and sell its products and services.
  • If we consider the world of desktop virtualization products, quite a number of the competitors support Xen-based environments. Once again, each of them is an opportunity for Citrix to sell its products and services.
  • If one catalogs the offerings of hosting companies that target companies of all sizes, it is clear that Xen-based offerings abound. Once again, since I don't have Citrix's XenServer shipment figures and can't comment on whether XenServer is being offered by those hosting companies. From an end-user perspective, however, it really doesn't matter all that much.  What matters if these end users can get their work accomplished and Xen itself is available.
  • XenServer is Citrix's supported version of the Xen technology that is supported by a broad community that includes HP, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, Sun, SUSE and a host of other companies. Regardless of what Citrix does and doesn't do in the future, it is unlikely that all of these suppliers would halt development of the Xen technology. So, I doubt that Xen itself will quietly slip away based upon something Citrix does or doesn't do.I would further suggest that if any of those suppliers were feeling a financial pinch, they might decide to halt their engineering efforts and integrate a free version of XenServer rather than going to the effort of supporting their own edition of the technology.
  • I do agree with Sergei that moves made by suppliers that help organizations understand that virtualization technology is now robust enough to handle just about any workload thrown at it, After all, virtualization technology has been available in the world of mainframes for over 30 years and in the world if midrange systems for over 20 years.What's in question is how this technology works in an industry standard environment not whether it works in large-scale, business and mission critical production environments.

Thanks, Serguei, for sharing your analysis and opinions.  Readers, please let us know what you are thinking about all of this.