10 big virtualization and cloud stories from 2013

2013 saw big news around acquisitions, community takeovers, new products, new markets, product deaths, and more FUD

Those of us who have spent much of our IT careers wrapped up inside of a nice, warm cocoon of virtualization were fortunate to have front row seats to another great year, as virtualization technologies continued to flourish in 2013. Virtualization remained a key component in the modern data center, and cloud computing continued to grow in importance -- both of which helped take all things virtual in a number of interesting directions.

In 2013, we witnessed big news around some of the usual suspects and brought attention to a number of new players hoping to make a name for themselves. If you're a fan or student of this technology, last year did not disappoint.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Parallels says key to success is cloud virtualization, not Mac desktop virtualization | >Review: VMware vSphere 5.5 adds speed and usability | Track the latest trends in virtualization in InfoWorld's Virtualization Report newsletter. ]

To spotlight a few of the events that took place in 2013, here is a list of 10 virtualization and cloud news stories that grabbed my attention.

1. VMware acquires, then kills virtual storage company Virsto

Back in February, VMware announced the acquisition of virtual storage company Virsto Software, rounding out the company's software-defined data center strategy.

At the time of the acquisition, John Gilmartin, VMware vice president of storage and availability, said this of the company: "Virsto has developed a VM-centric storage management model that accelerates I/O performance for any block-based storage system while providing efficient data services like VM snapshots and clones." According to Gilmartin, VMware planned to continue to offer Virsto's virtual appliance as a stand-alone product, as well as integrate it into VMware's solution stack.

Fast-forward to the end of the year, and VMware was already announcing the end of availability of all VMware Virsto versions, effective Jan. 1, 2014. The company added that "after this date, you will no longer be able to purchase these products. All support and maintenance for the removed versions will be unaffected and will continue as per VMware Lifecycle Support Policy through the published support period, September 19, 2015."

While the Virsto technology wasn't long lived within the halls of VMware, the company did remove a possible key piece of technology from the hands of hypervisor competitors such as Microsoft and Citrix, while at the same time increasing the knowledge and skill set of its own internal software development team with the acquisition of those employees who came over from Virsto. Those folks probably had a hand in developing VMware Virtual SAN.

2. Citrix gives Xen to the open source community

In 2013 the hypervisor may have become more of a commodity play, but Citrix still wasn't receiving the amount of love and respect for XenServer that it thought it should. With VMware and Microsoft capturing the majority of the market share in this space, and other Linux open source technologies like KVM making faster inroads within the Linux community, Citrix decided to make a change.

In April, Citrix announced at the Linux Foundation's Collaboration Summit in San Francisco that it was going to donate the open source Xen hypervisor to the Linux Foundation, and along with it some of the proprietary technology that Citrix had been adding to XenServer since it acquired XenSource back in 2007.

In turn, the Linux Foundation said it would support continued development and maintenance of Xen. As a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project, the newly named Xen Project would get support, infrastructure, and guidance from the nonprofit foundation.

The hope here was that by donating Xen back to the community, it would provide the Xen hypervisor with a wider, more diverse group of contributors and perhaps allow it to more effectively compete with the larger hypervisor vendors -- and try to win back some of the Linux community who fled to KVM. Companies like Amazon, AMD, CA Technologies, Cisco, Google, Intel, Oracle, Samsung, and Verizon all pledged to support the newly named Xen Project.

This move seemed in line with the company's earlier donation of CloudStack to the Apache Software Foundation. Again, Citrix wanted to expand that open source technology to contributors in order to better compete with the less mature but more popular OpenStack community.

Only time will tell if either technology will win back the hearts and minds of the community, and whether it will make a big difference to the development of either platform.

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