Citrix Systems announced to its community that the company is getting close to releasing Citrix XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 1, code-named "Project Cowley."
The new update has already been made available as a public beta download on the XenServer Beta Portal site. However, Citrix will probably make a larger, more public announcement around this new project during the company's Synergy conference taking place this week in Berlin.
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The Feature Pack 1 (FP1) update should prove to be a significant release for Citrix. It includes centralized management, thanks to the addition of the Open vSwitch project, which brings with it distributed virtual switching that can be considered on par with the Cisco Nexus 1000V or with the VMware's vNetwork Distributed Switch currently being used to help manage virtual machine networking in VMware environments.
You might remember, the Open vSwitch project first launched back in 2009 with the intent of bringing to market an open source, multilayer virtual switch that was designed to support distribution across multiple physical servers. The project's stated goal was "to build a production quality switch for VM environments that supports standard management interfaces (e.g. NetFlow, RSPAN, ERSPAN, IOS-like CLI), and is open to programmatic extension and control."
In May of this year, a 1.0 version of the Open vSwitch was finally launched. It offered support for Xen, XenServer, and KVM, but was absent with support for VMware ESX or Microsoft Hyper-V. While the Cisco Nexus 1000V remains a popular choice within the VMware community, there are VMware users who would like to see a competitor step in and offer an alternative. That too could be good news for Citrix.