Citrix offering free Essentials for Microsoft Hyper-V

The free Citrix Essentials Express Edition for Hyper-V is aimed at firms in the early stages of virtualization.

Citrix Systems is using the stage at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans to highlight its latest free virtualization offering: Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V Express Edition.  The free virtualization tool will help with virtual machine management and works in conjunction with Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor and Windows Server 2008.

Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V is designed to help IT administrators in the early phase of adopting Microsoft Hyper-V.  These virtualization newbies or smaller shops typically don't have the money to shell out to evaluate or get started down the path of virtualization.  The freebie version of Essentials supports one or two physical servers running Hyper-V which is connected to a single storage array.

[ The hypervisor battles continue with the release of Citrix XenServer 5.5 |  Read the InfoWorld Test Center's review of Microsoft's Hyper-V ]

To manage anything larger, an organization would have to upgrade to the Enterprise Edition, which costs $1,500 per server, or the Platinum Edition, which runs $3,000 per server.  The good news, however, is that once you've outgrown the free version, Citrix has made it an easy upgrade path to the higher editions.  But oddly enough right now, this free edition is limited to Hyper-V environments -- there is no free equivalent for Citrix's own hypervisor, XenServer.  Perhaps Microsoft is subsidizing the cost in some way, although that remains to be seen.

All versions of Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V include a key storage feature called StorageLink, which allows customers to take advantage of simplified shared storage right from the beginning of their virtualization deployment.  With it, administrators can leverage powerful storage-based features such as deduplication, thin provisioning, cloning, snapshots, and replication.  Virtualization administrators can save on the growing costs often associated with virtualization adoption by leveraging deduplication and thin provisioning to remove much of the high costs found in today's storage.  Industry estimates show that with these types of storage technologies, companies can often shrink their storage footprint by nearly 50 percent.  And this number can increase even further if the virtual machines in question are highly duplicated.

Once an environment outgrows the limitations of the free version of Essentials, it gets so much more with upgrading than just the StorageLink technology.  The Enterprise Edition adds Dynamic Provisioning Services for Server Operating Systems and complete Workflow Orchestration.  Take it up a notch to the Platinum Edition and you gain a virtual lab solution called Lab Manager and a production migration solution called Stage Manager (both OEM'ed from VMLogix).

Citrix and Microsoft have been partnering and teaming up for many years now.  So it only makes sense for these two companies to once again come together in order to try and take away market share from competitor and virtualization industry giant VMware.  Giving away Citrix XenServer, Hyper-V, and now Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V Express Edition may go a long way to doing just that.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.