Citrix launches new XenServer release, gains server virtualization market share

Citrix XenServer 5.6 adds powerful new enterprise-grade features for data centers and cloud providers, as well as a new edition at a midrange price

At the Citrix Synergy show that took place in San Francisco last week, Citrix announced a new version of the company's server virtualization platform, XenServer 5.6.  The hypervisor technology is the foundation for many Citrix desktop virtualization projects, as well as a growing number of data center and cloud services offerings.

For years now, Citrix has lagged behind VMware in terms of market share, but the company continues to make great strides. During the keynote presentation, Citrix president and CEO Mark Templeton threw out a few notable numbers around XenServer's growth:

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  • XenServer has been activated for production use in more than 45,000 enterprise data centers worldwide to date, including 45 percent of the Fortune 500.
  • Based on analysts' estimates and current download numbers, Citrix XenServer market share is projected to increase to 18 percent by the end of 2010, which is a big milestone for the company.
  • The hypervisor technology is also said to be the back-end virtual infrastructure for approximately 40 percent of all Citrix XenDesktop VDI implementations -- a large percentage to be sure, but one that should be somewhat expected.

XenServer continues to prove its legitimacy as a key player in the enterprise virtualization market. With Version 5.6, the free edition of XenServer continues to deliver a series of performance, scale, and support enhancements which include increased memory support to 256GB per host and support for up to 64 logical processors per server. Networking capabilities have also been expanded to include support for up to 16 NICs per host and support for single-root I/O virtualization (SR-IOV), which provides very high I/O performance.

Beyond the free version of Citrix XenServer, the company has also announced a new edition to the product line, called the Advanced Edition, which includes everything in the Free Edition, as well as dynamic memory control, high availability, and a host of advanced reporting and alerting capabilities. The new Advanced Edition was one of the biggest key takeaways from the XenServer 5.6 announcement, but was probably lost or skipped over by many attendees during the keynote presentation.

Citrix said the Advanced Edition would make virtualization and cloud computing more accessible to enterprise organizations, regardless of their IT budget. Organizations, especially cloud providers, were looking for high-availability features in their enterprise hypervisor without being required to pay for added "fluff" they might not need in the higher, more expensive Enterprise or Platinum editions. The Advanced Edition's price is only $1,000 per server, and for cloud service providers, Citrix is offering subscription-based pricing of only $30 per month.

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