Today Citrix opened up the beta release of XenServer 5.5, code-named "Project George." The beta is being made available to the public through www.mycitrix.com. The only requirement to participate is the time it takes you to sign up for a MyCitrix account. But if you are interested, don't wait around. The company said that the beta period is only expected to last around four weeks.
With Citrix Synergy coming right around the corner, you can bet that this is only the first of many interesting virtualization announcements coming out of Citrix.
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The beta release of Citrix XenServer 5.5 involves several new features, many of which have been highly requested by customers and previous beta participants. These features include:
- Active Directory integration. Specify the AD domain to use for authentication by the pool and use your AD credentials to connect to the pool via XenCenter and ssh. You control which AD users/groups are allowed access. Admins will appreciate the integration, allowing them to leverage their existing management structures.
- Workload balancing. Guest and host performance metrics are used to create star ratings for individual VM placement and balancing recommendations for resource pools to achieve optimal performance. This takes Citrix in the right direction to help compete with VMware's DRS solution.
- LVHD. Fast cloning and snapshots are now supported on all SR types through integration of their software VHD stack and LVM-based Storage Repositories (SRs).
- Snapshot support in XenCenter. Create and manage disk snapshots from within XenCenter rather than just through CLI. Moving the snapshot capability to the GUI is another nice step forward.
- StorageLink integration. CLI-only support for a new StorageLink Gateway SR that adds native standards-based support for HP MSA, HP EVA, EMC Clariion, and NetApp storage arrays over iSCSI and Fibre Channel with optional automated initiator/fabric/array management.
- Expanded guest OS support. RHEL 5.3, Debian Lenny, and SLES 11 Linux guests.
As virtualization providers like Citrix, VMware, and Microsoft continue to release new platform versions such as this, you can understand how server virtualization still has room to grow and expand. And just as interesting is how the user community and the partner ecosystems continue to create new solutions around these technologies to make them do even more than the platform providers expected. Continue to ask for the impossible.