Last week, thin client software provider Citrix agreed to purchase virtualization vendor XenSource for a whopping $500 million. Now the buzz is that Microsoft would prefer to own XenSource themselves and may derail the deal:
Today Microsoft promised that a beta of Viridian, the free Windows Server virtualization facility accompanying Windows Longhorn Server, will be available when Longhorn is released to manufacturing. Unfortunately however, along the way to making the recently delayed promised release of Viridian within 180 days of Longhorn, some features had to be cut. Mike Neil, Microsoft’s GM of virtualization strategy, has the details at the Windows Server Division Weblog:
So we are making the following changes, and postponing these features to a future release of Windows Server virtualization:
- No Live migration
- No hot-add resources (storage, networking, memory, processor)
- Support limit of 16 cores/logical processors (e.g., 2 processor, quad-core systems is 8 cores; or 4 processor, quad-core system is 16 cores)
I wanted to share this information this week with partners and customers so that no one is surprised at WinHEC when we demo all the other innovations in Windows Server virtualization.
I doubt that the lack of these features is a catastrophe, but the delay of previously promised features makes Viridian seem a less than top rank offering. Moreover, while it will still be usable for garden variety server consolidation, the lack of live migration means that Viridian cannot be used for state of the art workload switching configurations as can offerings from competitors VMware and XenSource.
Former Microsoft Corporate VP Gordon Mangione has joined XenSource as senior vice president of product operations according to Stephen Shankland at CNET. We had previously mentioned Mangione’s departure from Microsoft where he had lead the Security Business & Technology Unit and before that, SQL Server. XenSource is the virtualization software company who recently signed a cooperative development deal with Microsoft.
Microsoft Corp. and XenSource Inc. today announced they will cooperate on the development of technology to provide interoperability between Xen™-enabled Linux and the new Microsoft® Windows® hypervisor technology-based Windows Server® virtualization. With the resulting technology, the next version of Windows Server, code-named “Longhorn,” will provide customers with a flexible and powerful virtualization solution across their hardware infrastructure and operating system environments for cost-saving consolidation of Windows, Linux and Xen-enabled Linux distributions.
Microsoft anticipates providing a beta release of Windows Server virtualization by the end of 2006 and plans to release the solution to manufacturing (RTM) within 180 days of the RTM of Windows Server “Longhorn,” which is targeted for the end of 2007. Microsoft currently provides virtual machine add-ins and technical support for Linux guest operating systems running on Virtual Server 2005 R2.
This agreement builds on an ongoing relationship between Microsoft and XenSource. XenSource has previously licensed the Microsoft Virtual Hard Disk format to enable interoperability with Microsoft virtualization technologies. For customers with Premier-level support agreements, Microsoft will use commercially reasonable efforts to address potential issues with Microsoft software running in XenEnterprise.
Peter Galli has more background at eWeek including:
Frank Artale, the vice president of business development at XenSource, told eWEEK that Xen is being incorporated into Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 platform, as well as in upcoming enterprise Red Hat Linux releases, and said that, from a technical perspective, Linux has a protocol through which it talks to the Xen hypervisor.
“One of the significant pieces of the work we have going on is to provide an adapter between the Xen hypercall API and the Microsoft Windows Server virtualization hypercall API, so there will be adaptation to allow existing Linux implementations that are Xen enabled to run on the Longhorn Server that has been enabled with Viridian,” he said.
Also, specific optimizations will be added to optimize Linux performance as it runs on top of Longhorn Server in the form of drivers to enable specific forms of I/O partitions, in particular network and disk I/O, Artale said.
Last week, when parent EMC revealed second quarter results, VMware’s business posted a very healthy 73% increase to $158 million. That puts it on track to rack up around $630 million in sales this year. VMware very slyly in February released a free version of its basic virtualization software to head off the threat from Xen. (It still charges for maintenance) Now its main bulwark against rivals is innovation. Analysts say it has a solid lead on both Microsoft and Xen.
Update 7/20: Ashlee Vance at The Register offers some background on the interactions between Microft, VMware, and XenSource.