As I mentioned last week, Citrix came out with its revamped virtualization platform, a move that the company heralds as the next step toward the "dynamic data center" but others interpret as a bid to break down VMware's market dominance.
Citrix' new strategy centers on the XenServer 4.1 and XenServer Platinum Edition. In describing the new systems, the company actually appears to be downplaying the virtualization aspects of the technology and is instead highlighting its ability to elevate Citrix' original product focus: application delivery and acceleration. The company points out that the new platform offers the ability to distribute workloads evenly across both virtual and physical resources, which could be crucial if estimates that barely 15 percent of servers will be virtualized by 2012 prove correct.
What's really interesting, through, is what's happening just under the surface, say ZDNet's Dana Blankenhorn and Paula Rooney. You see, XenSource used to be the company that was going to bring open source to virtualization. But that was before Microsoft came calling with plans to tweak the system to ensure that it jived with the Viridian system, since renamed Hyper-V. Now that Citrix, a longtime Microsoft ally, owns the Xen brand lock, stock and barrel, its commitment to open source is questionable despite company assurances that it will go forward.
Citrix is also working to unify its application, server and desktop virtualization systems, according to CRN's Joseph Kovar. The company's Presentation Server is now known as XenApp, joining the XenServer and XenDesktop systems under a common brand, all of which will be coordinated by the Citrix Workflow Studio. That, in turn, will be provided as part of the Citrix Delivery Center system designed to transform the datacenter into an application and data delivery hub.
With all of this in the works, VMware's latest move seems tame by comparison. The company just came out with a new connection broker for its Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) that offers new options for provisioning and managing virtual desktops. The system is probably a welcome development for VMware users, but it's hardly the grand vision that Citrix is promoting.
Of course, sometimes grand visions aren't all they're cracked up to be. The history of IT is littered with bold strategies that never panned out, and not always due to technology failures. Fear of the unknown is the greatest single detriment to progress, so it will be up to Citrix to present clear and compelling evidence that the benefits of its technology are real.