Analyst firm declares Citrix XenServer 5.5 enterprise- and production-ready

The Burton Group said that Citrix XenServer, along with VMware, qualifies as one of the two most enterprise production-ready hypervisors

No matter which side of the virtualization fence you stand on, I believe most people will openly agree that VMware is today's virtualization hypervisor market leader.  Now in existence for over ten years, VMware currently controls the lion's share of the hypervisor market.  But this market has been heating up over the last few years, with 2008 and 2009 really taking shape with offerings from companies like Citrix, Microsoft, Oracle, Virtual Iron, Parallels, Red Hat, Novell, and more.  But as the battle for market share continued, VMware's battle cry has always been about product maturity and feature richness where other platforms just couldn't compete.

However, one analyst firm recently came out and said that may not be the case any longer.  The hypervisor wars may have shifted a bit as The Burton Group launched an update to their hypervisor enterprise production-ready certification.

[ Citrix delivers with XenServer 5.5 as the hypervisor battle continues | Find out more on about server virtualization under the hood ]

A few months ago, The Burton Group launched a new project to study and compare the different virtualization offerings being made available to the market.  The study would determine which hypervisor met certain criteria to be considered enterprise-ready platforms.  The certification required a hypervisor to meet 100% of the analyst firm's required features (27 features in all).  But the certification also included an additional 42 preferred features and 24 optional features that drive the feasibility of a particular platform, but aren't considered "must haves" for enterprise production workloads.

During the recent Citrix Synergy show that took place in May of this year, Richard Jones, vice president and service director for The Burton Group's Data Center Strategies, presented the analyst firm's findings.  At the time, VMware was the only company to pass 100% of the required feature criteria.  And with VMware vSphere 4 on the prowl, things weren't looking too good for the competitor platforms.  During the show, Jones did say that Citrix and Microsoft were both coming out with new platforms that could change things a bit -- Citrix with XenServer 5.5 and Microsoft with Hyper-V R2.

This month, Burton Group analysts Richard Jones and Chris Wolf each announced that Citrix XenServer 5.5 Platinum Edition has joined VMware as the only two companies to receive this certification.

"By meeting 100% of our required features, Citrix has demonstrated that its platform meets the security, management, availability, storage, network, compute, scalability, and performance requirements typical of many enterprises," notes Wolf.

While Citrix has done an amazing job at adding quite a number of updates and new capabilities to its platform feature set, technical feature requirements are not all that's required to achieve The Burton Group certification.

In addition to features, Jones states that enterprise IT shops also expect certain things when it comes to licensing and support for a product.  And on July 8, Citrix made a change to their support lifecycle that allowed them to meet certain expectations for certification.  According to Jones, "Citrix now specifies that a major product version will be supported in the market a minimum of three years: The standard policy will set the EOM date a minimum of three years following the GA date, and the EOL date a minimum of five years following the GA date."

Wolf adds that much like VMware, Citrix does not meet 100% of The Burton Group's preferred or optional features, but that VMware is still further along with these criteria.  However, Wolf still believes that XenServer has demonstrated itself as a virtualization platform worthy of the demands of large-scale enterprise environments.

With Microsoft Hyper-V R2 now "available," it will be interesting to see if the Redmond giant has made any progress with its latest hypervisor on The Burton Group's certification requirements.