Simon Crosby of Citrix Discusses Virtualization Heading into 2008

Simon Crosby, former CTO of XenSource and now CTO of the Virtualization and Management Division at Citrix Systems, is well known in the industry as a virtualization and open source champion. As we leave 2007 behind us and push forward into 2008, I wanted to find out where Citrix stood in this growing virtualization environment. Between the incredible news about the Citrix acquisition of XenSource and then the hi

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A: Open source is the most creative and powerful way to develop a core code base that multiple vendors can deliver to market. Uniquely perhaps the Xen project does not aim to commoditize all features – only the hypervisor – and has specific interfaces at which the open source "engine" can be combined with other open source or proprietary features by different vendors. This allows the vendors to price to value, and not to cost (as, say traditional open source vendors that only support the code are forced to do). More importantly, it correctly incentivizes the participants to continue their contribution. This is why Xen is so powerful.

VMware's product contains open source technologies, but they like to pretend that it is all proprietary. They take, but do not give back. This is a one way street that eventually leaves them with the burden of creating all features and the clear feeling on the part of the community that they have not played fair. We reject the VMware approach to open source, and are interested to see whether the community continues to advance the view that in fact ESX Server is a derived work of Linux.

Q: In 2008, what is it going to take to get Citrix into every deal that VMware is going after and then win the deal? How do you move from an SMB positioning to an Enterprise player when price doesn't seem to be enough?

A: There are many deals in which we don't stand a chance – deals where VMware has been selected as "the vendor for virtualization". However we increasingly find that VMware's failure to build a credible ISV ecosystem, and its closed, proprietary approach to the market, is leading customers to demand an alternative – that is, dual sourcing – so that they do not face the risk of being locked up in an expensive, proprietary single vendor stack. Our opportunity arises from our openness – our embracing of ISV partners, our embracing of existing systems management and storage management vendors, and our advanced high performance architecture. Customers that think strategically are purchasing XenServer.

I'd like to once again thank Simon Crosby for taking the time out to speak with me and for sharing his vision into the new year. 2008 is going to be an exciting year for all of us in the virtualization community. I for one can't wait to see what people are coming up with to advance this technology further.


Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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