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XenSource: Xen hypervisor made for servers, not OS

In spite of its close partnership with Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell, XenSource's CTO maintains the virtualization hypervisor belongs in server hardware -- not in the operating system.Speaking at Interop in New York, XenSource CTO Simon Crosby said the slim, trim Xen hypervisor in products such as the company's newly launched XenCenter OEM Edition is a more natural fit in hardware than in infrastructure software.

Simon Crosby

In spite of its close partnership with Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell, XenSource's CTO maintains the virtualization hypervisor belongs in server hardware -- not in the operating system.

Speaking at Interop in New York, XenSource CTO Simon Crosby said the slim, trim Xen hypervisor in products such as the company's newly launched XenCenter OEM Edition is a more natural fit in hardware than in infrastructure software.

Backing that claim, Crosby pointed to Dell's announcement on Tuesday that it will ship XenCenter OEM Edition as an option with all Poweredge x86 servers within a quarter. XenSource's XenCenter OEM Edition, launched in August, is the industry's first embedded hypervisor on flash or disk.

Yet, it appears the thinking at XenSource is changing as the market evolves and its ownership has changed. Citrix’s acquisition of the three-year-old company closed last Friday.

XenSource has worked closely with Red Hat and Novell to integrate Xen into their latest Linux distributions and is collborating closely with Microsoft on its implementation of Xen, dubbed Viridian, for Windows Server 2008. Citrix does not own an operating system but sells a platform that offers desktop and application virtualization, and now server virtualization.

Crosby said it's positive that operating systems are hypervisor-aware but deep involvement by Intel and AMD and emergence of VT-enabled hardware and hardware-assisted IO for virtualization makes the decision of whether virtualization be included in the operating system or exist as a separate layer easy.

"In my view, it's a separate layer because it's part of the box," Crosby told several hundred people gathered for his Interop keynote at the Javits Center in New York. "Platform virtualization is here to stay."

He finished with a pitch for Citrix's new OEM edition of Xencenter. "There's no excuse to buy a new server and not have it virtualized. The hypervisor will be included in every server."