Citrix boosts virtual data center platform

March 4, 2009 -- Citrix Systems has introduced its Citrix Essentials for XenServer and Hyper-V product line, which adds advanced management and automation capabilities to the Citrix and Microsoft virtualization platforms. The company is also offering a free version of its enterprise-class, cloud-oriented Citrix XenServer virtualization platform.

March 4, 2009 -- Citrix Systems, Inc., a specialist in application delivery infrastructure, has introduced its Citrix Essentials for XenServer and Hyper-V product line, which adds advanced management and automation capabilities to the Citrix and Microsoft virtualization platforms. The new platform helps customers transform virtualized data centers into more dynamic "delivery centers," with capabilities such as lab automation, dynamic provisioning, workflow orchestration and integration with leading storage systems.

Citrix Essentials provides a complement for customers using the enterprise-class, cloud-oriented Citrix XenServer virtualization platform (which is now being offered free of charge to any user for unlimited production deployment; see a separate announcement, below). The Citrix Essentials product line also extends the enterprise management capabilities of the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center products, helping customers create highly scalable, manageable and agile virtual infrastructures within a Microsoft environment. This combination enables broad interoperability that makes it easier for customers to manage virtual machines across heterogeneous virtualization environments throughout the full application lifecycle, from lab and testing to production.

"As enterprise data centers become increasingly virtualized, customers need hypervisor-agnostic management solutions that go beyond general virtual machine administration - automating and streamlining virtualization throughout the application lifecycle, delivering workloads across a mix of physical and virtual machines and simplifying integration with third-party enterprise storage systems," offers Chris Wolf, senior analyst at Burton Group (www.burtongroup.com). "Vendors that provide practical, heterogeneous virtualization management solutions that address not just the virtual infrastructure, but also provide a framework for third party innovation within and beyond the virtual infrastructure, are best positioned for long-term success."

Citrix contends that, with more than 75 percent of corporate servers still not virtualized, and product options increasing rapidly, data centers in the near future will likely include a far different mix of virtualization platforms supporting a greater diversity of use cases. Now that virtualization is included as a standard component of the Windows Server platform, many Microsoft customers are expected to begin moving to Hyper-V as their preferred virtualization environment for new Windows-oriented deployments. With the enterprise-class, cloud-proven XenServer platform now available for free unlimited use in production, customers with mixed Windows and Linux environments, significant investments in Citrix application delivery solutions, or plans to build "private clouds" will increasingly turn to Citrix XenServer, maintains the company.

Citrix Essentials for XenServer and Hyper-V was designed specifically to address the growing share of Citrix and Microsoft virtualization environments in corporate datacenters, while enabling easy interaction with existing servers that have already been virtualized with other third-party products. It provides customers with a robust set of advanced management and automation solutions that enhance and extend the capabilities of Citrix XenCenter and Microsoft System Center, the primary management systems of XenServer and Hyper-V, respectively.

While some features vary based on the underlying virtualization environment, the Citrix Essentials product line consists of five broad categories of capabilities:

-- Automated Lab Management streamlines the process of building, testing, sharing and delivering applications on-demand throughout the full application lifecycle, from development labs to production servers. Because this functionality supports all of the leading virtualization platforms, customers can run development and testing environments on one virtualization platform, and seamlessly move those applications into production on another platform.

-- Advanced Storage Integration featuring Citrix StorageLink technology leverages all the native power of third-party array-based storage systems making it easy for customers to manage advanced storage features directly from their virtualization management environments.

-- Dynamic Provisioning Services reduce costs and optimize data center infrastructure by letting customers manage common sets of master workload images centrally and stream them on-demand to both virtual machines or physical servers.

-- Workflow Orchestration enables users to automate key management processes across their virtual infrastructure using common task libraries and a graphical workflow canvas.

-- High Availability delivers a broad range of powerful high availability options from automatic restart as the result of host or virtual machine failure to intelligent placement of virtual machines across resource pools based on resource availability.

"With three quarters of servers still not virtualized and customer choices increasing, the server virtualization market is still wide open," said Peter Levine, senior vice president and general manager, virtualization management division, Citrix Systems. "We believe XenServer and Hyper-V will be the two fastest growing virtualization platforms in this space going forward, each appealing broadly to different segments. Citrix is aligning its server virtualization strategy around adding significant value to these two high-growth platforms, helping customers achieve more manageable, scalable and agile datacenters in a way that leverages their existing investments in the most efficient way possible."

Citrix further contends that one of the most significant challenges customers face as they virtualize data center servers is the increasing complexity of interfacing with enterprise storage systems. Because server virtualization can often hinder the linkage between servers and storage, some virtualization vendors have attempted to replicate storage-related functions in their own proprietary management systems. Unfortunately, this approach is complicated and can effectively turn expensive array-based storage systems into little more than "dumb disks," making many of their most powerful capabilities far less accessible to datacenter administrators.

One of the new features in the Citrix Essentials product line is the Citrix StorageLink technology, which reduces the cost and complexity of storage management by making it easy to leverage all the power of existing storage systems from within both XenServer and Hyper-V virtualization environments. The StorageLink capabilities in Citrix Essentials include the following four feature sets:

-- StorageLink Gateway enables automated discovery and one-click access to native storage services using any of the leading storage architectures and protocols, including DAS, NAS, SAN, iSCSI and Fibre Channel.

-- StorageLink Resource Manager makes common actions in native storage arrays visible from within the virtualization management environment, including partitioning, snapshots, backups and data replication.

-- StorageLink Image Manager provides a centralized library of virtual machine images that can be instantly converted between XenServer and Hyper-V and rapidly cloned and delivered to any number of target hosts.

-- StorageLink Connect provides a set of clearly-defined open APIs that make it easy to link XenServer and Hyper-V environments to third-party backup solutions and enterprise management frameworks.

"Through its advanced StorageLink technology, Citrix Essentials provides our joint customers with one-click access to powerful storage efficiency and data management features inherent in all NetApp systems," comments Patrick Rogers, vice president of solutions marketing at NetApp. "This tight integration allows customers to keep storage management processes consistent and gain better virtual machine performance by offloading storage services to the storage network. Now, customers with virtualized datacenters can take full advantage of NetApp capabilities such as instant virtual machine cloning, backup, thin provisioning, and deduplication to maximize the value of their overall virtualization solution."

Citrix Essentials for XenServer and Hyper-V will be available through channel partners on April 7, 2009. For more information, visit www.citrix.com/essentials.

Citrix offers free version of XenServer cloud/virtualization platform

Separately, Citrix also unveiled a new version of Citrix XenServer, the company's enterprise-class, cloud-oriented virtualization platform, that will be offered free of charge to any user for unlimited production deployment.

The company contend that, while basic hypervisors have been free for years, most have had limited practical use in real world environments. With the new release, XenServer sets a new standard for free virtualization with the addition of new features like centralized multi-node management, multi-server resource sharing and full live motion. Dramatically lowering the entry price of virtualization also helps address today's challenging economic climate by making enterprise-class virtualization more accessible to businesses of all sizes, regardless of budget.

Now in production in more than 5,000 enterprise datacenters worldwide, XenServer is a key component of the Citrix Delivery Center product family, a comprehensive data center-to-desktop system that helps customers transform static data centers into dynamic "delivery centers." XenServer is powered by the same Xen virtualization engine that runs most every independent cloud today. With more than 75 percent of corporate servers worldwide still not virtualized, Citrix expects the free platform to help accelerate the adoption of virtualization by bringing the simplicity, scale and economics of the cloud to enterprise data center.

"Free hypervisors with limited functionality have been around for a long time. We see this move as substantially different because it offers a competitive, enterprise-ready virtual infrastructure platform with full centralized management, live motion and support for unlimited virtual machines and servers, with no strings attached," offers Mark Bowker, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (www.enterprisestrategygroup.com). "This is a very positive move that has the potential to accelerate the adoption of virtualization for enterprise customers of all sizes and make it easier for external cloud providers to add full Windows support to their existing Linux offerings. Anyone who dismissed XenServer in the past as a legitimate player in enterprise virtualization clearly owes it to themselves to take a look at this offering."

Core features of XenServer, according to Citrix, include the following:

-- Centralized Management enables full multi-node management for an unlimited number of servers and virtual machines; includes easy physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-virtual conversion tools, centralized configuration management and a resilient distributed management architecture.

-- Live Motion and Multi-Server Resource Sharing incorporates powerful XenMotion technology that allows virtual machines to be moved from server to server without service interruption for zero downtime; also includes optimal initial virtual machine placement and intelligent maintenance mode.

-- Hypervisor Engine powered by the 64-bit industry standard Xen open source hypervisor developed jointly by more than 50 leading technology vendors, enabling users take full advantage of the latest performance, security and scalability enhancements in next-generation servers, operating systems and microprocessors .

-- Fast Bare Metal Performance supports an unlimited number of servers and virtual machines with industry-leading consolidation ratios, near native performance on the most challenging application workloads, and virtually zero overhead in both Microsoft Windows and Linux environments

--Setup and Administration features familiar interface with easy wizard-driven configuration, intuitive Web 2.0 style search, and built-in auto-help that makes the learning curve for new administrators a snap

-- Integrated Storage Management supports any existing storage system; includes built-in storage management features such as host-based logical volume management, and dynamic multi-pathing capabilities

"This move is all about accelerating the adoption of virtualization by tearing down the barriers of cost and complexity that have been in place for far too long," comments Simon Crosby, CTO, virtualization management division, Citrix. "The faster we can help customers virtualize the millions of servers that remain unvirtualized today, the sooner they can start adding significant value on top, transforming static data centers into dynamic delivery centers where every application, desktop and server workload is delivered as an on-demand service."

The free Citrix XenServer release will be available for download from the Citrix website and other download portals by the end of March 2009. Customers who would like to experience a preview of the new XenServer release, as well as get a sneak peek into some of the new features in Citrix Essentials, can download a free trial version today at www.citrix.com/freexenserver

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