Citrix really delivers with XenServer 5.5

The hypervisor battles continue with this latest release of the free XenServer virtualization platform

Yesterday was a good day for Citrix and the virtualization community.  Citrix launched XenServer 5.5, its free and feature rich server virtualization solution, as well as its advanced toolset called Citrix Essentials.

The virtualization war waged by Citrix, Microsoft, and VMware has been going on for a while now.  And the hypervisor battle for the x64 server market is once again heating up.  Last month, VMware started shipping its most sophisticated and feature rich server virtualization solution yet, VMware vSphere 4.  And now this month, Citrix responds to that offering with a clear cut challenge of its own, Citrix XenServer 5.5.

[ Read the InfoWorld Test Center guide: Virtualization for the rest of us | And find out more about server virtualization under the hood ]

It was only a few months ago when Citrix made the big announcement that its full enterprise version of XenServer would be free of charge for unlimited production use.  XenServer 5.5 continues with the free virtualization and, best of all adds, even more functionality to the freebie platform.  The latest version throws in a consolidated backup feature.  It also adds Active Directory integration for authentication, which should help with role-based access controls.  XenConvert will help migrate your VMware VMDK files over to the VHD format used by both Citrix and Microsoft, and you can also benefit from a much larger set of supported guest operating systems across the wide range of Linux and Windows OSes.

While I was at the HP Tech Forum in Las Vegas, I was fortunate to also find out that Citrix updated its Citrix Essentials offering.  The new 5.5 version of Citrix Essentials works with both XenServer and Hyper-V; it offers expanded storage integration, automated lab and stage management thanks to the VMLogix OEM deal, and dynamic workload balancing.  While Essentials isn't free, Citrix is making the licensing of this product relatively inexpensive, with an easy-to-figure-out pricing structure.  Pricing starts at $2,500 per server -- easier than dealing with per socket, CPU, or core pricing.

Citrix has already had more than 100,000 customers from over 50 countries worldwide download XenServer.  So if you'd like to add yourself to that number and take the platform for a spin to see how it compares to Hyper-V or vSphere, you can now download Citrix XenServer 5.5 for free.  You can also download Citrix Essentials for free for a 30-day trial period if you'd like to get your feet wet.

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