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Citrix Launches New XenServer Release as Market Share Growth Continues

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Fast-growing hypervisor adds breakthrough functionality for datacenters, clouds, and desktops. 

At Citrix Synergy this week in Berlin, Germany, Citrix Systems announced a new version of Citrix XenServer with significant new storage and networking innovations that change the game in both server and desktop virtualization for customers of all sizes. The new release comes on the heels of reports showing XenServer continuing to gain market share in server virtualization.

XenServer continues to gain market share at a rapid pace, fueled by a powerful free version, rapid pace of innovation, simpler management and extensive penetration in high-growth areas like desktop virtualization and cloud computing (see blog: “What’s Driving the Surge in XenServer Market Share?”).

XenServer passed a new milestone this week with more than 50,000 enterprises worldwide now deploying the product in production for server virtualization, including more than 50 percent of the Fortune 500. New XenServer production activations continue to accelerate and are now growing at a rate of more than 1,000 new servers activated per day. XenServer also continues to gain share among cloud providers, building on the presence of the open source Xen hypervisor, the most widely deployed virtualization platform in the cloud. In addition to its gains in server and cloud environments, XenServer is now also the most widely used hypervisor for virtual desktops, hosting an estimated 2.5 million VDI-based desktops.

Desktop virtualization is one of the hottest technologies in IT today, enabling customers to deliver Windows desktops and apps as an on-demand service to any device. One of the most popular forms of desktop virtualization involves hosting personalized desktop images for each user in the datacenter on a server virtualization platform like XenServer. While this form of virtualization–commonly referred to as VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure)–has many key advantages, it requires upfront capital expenditure, especially high storage costs, in the datacenter. The new XenServer release introduces a major breakthrough storage optimization technology for VDI called IntelliCache, substantially lowering the costs of storage.

Unlike traditional server workloads, dynamically provisioned virtual desktops running in the datacenter generate a tremendous amount of disk activity, slowing performance and ballooning the use of expensive network storage. About 80 percent of these write to disk when using shared image desktops, however, involve temporary or non-persistent data that doesn’t need to be saved in an expensive SAN or NAS system. The new XenServer IntelliCache technology identifies this traffic and caches it instead in local, server-side disks, improving performance and cutting the cost of VDI storage substantially. The new IntelliCache technology is included in the free version of XenServer at no additional charge, and will be supported in an upcoming release of reference architecture for Citrix XenDesktop 5.

Integrated Virtual Switching

One of the biggest inhibitors to adopting external cloud services is securely unifying existing network and cloud resources into a single pool of capacity that can support the seamless migration of services between the datacenter and external cloud providers. The latest release of XenServer addresses this challenge by integrating Distributed Virtual Switching (DVS) technology, which leverages industry standard protocols like OpenFlow to create an integrated network fabric that makes it easy to seamlessly manage on-premise and off-premise resources. As a result, IT administrators can now manage network traffic globally, providing network fault tolerance, improving traffic isolation, and binding network policies and “personalities” to each VM that stay with them as they move across virtual boundaries, including external cloud environments. The new virtual switching capability is included in the free version of XenServer at no additional charge, with advanced controls available in upgrade editions.

Key Facts and Highlights

The latest release of XenServer adds an extensive list of innovative new features for desktop, server and cloud workloads, including:

Advanced Storage Optimization for VDI – New XenServer IntelliCache technology makes hosted VDI deployments far more cost effective by offloading all temporary desktop read-write traffic from expensive SAN and NAS storage systems onto server-side spinning disks or high speed solid state drives (SSDs).

Integrated Virtual Switching – The addition of the Open Virtual Switch and Distributed Virtual Switch Controller bring greater visibility into the XenServer networking layer, while providing distributed fine grained networking configuration and control policies that follow a VM migration – within the datacenter or into the cloud.

Advanced VM Protection and Recovery – New VM protection and recovery allows IT administrators to schedule automatic snapshots of VM disk and memory states and archive the images to a specified storage location to ensure the continuity and ongoing protection of critical data.

Easy Web-Based Management Building on end user self-service capabilities introduced in XenServer 5.6, the new XenServer Web Management Console gives administrators a simple way to provide application owners direct access to the VMs they are responsible for. The new web-based console can be accessed from any browser for simple daily management tasks, or to delegate daily management to individual owners.

Availability and Pricing

XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 1 will be available in Q4. The new VDI storage optimizations enabled via IntelliCache technology will be supported in an upcoming release of reference architecture for XenDesktop 5, the company’s open and comprehensive desktop virtualization solution that delivers any type of virtual desktop and application, to any device, anywhere.


Simon Crosby, CTO, Datacenter and Cloud Division, Citrix

“Innovating for the desktop and cloud is priority one for us. Not only are cloud and desktop the next frontier in the virtualization of IT, but markets where Citrix has a long history of leadership. That operational history provides deep insights that allow us to deliver new innovations and value to our customers. While XenServer has already proven to be the preferred platform for the desktop and cloud, with these new innovations, we expect another upward inflection in the adoption and standardization of XenServer.”

N. Louis Shipley, Group VP and GM, XenServer Product Group, Citrix Systems

“The addition of the IntelliCache technology in XenServer is a massive leap forward for customers looking to leverage the power of virtual desktops. With XenDesktop and IntelliCache, customers will not only have all the capabilities needed to create and manage a virtual infrastructure at a fraction of the cost of competing products, but they can also leverage it to dramatically reduce the costs of their VDI implementations. It is innovations like these that will ultimately expose the 500 million corporate desktops that exist today to the power of virtualization and ensure Citrix continues to grow in both leadership and market share.”

Matthew Eastwood, Group Vice President, Enterprise Platform Group, IDC

“Open virtual switching delivers the ability to pool network resources, isolate traffic and seamlessly scale capacity. When combined with server virtualization, these features make cloud computing – whether public, private or hybrid – attainable for any organization. Citrix virtualization and networking technologies are already used daily to power the world’s largest and most demanding cloud and internet sites – adding DVS in the virtualization platform is the glue that brings XenServer and NetScaler together.”

Related Links and Announcements

Expert blog: “What’s Driving the Surge in XenServer Market Share?” by John Humphreys, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Citrix

Expert blog: “XenServer Project "Cowley" Beta Now Available” by Bill Carovano, Senior Director of Product Management, Citrix

Follow Citrix online

Citrix Synergy 2010 and Citrix Synergy Press pages

XenServer page

Twitter: @Citrix, @xenserverarmy, @Citrix_Synergy, #citrixsynergy, #xenserver

Citrix on Facebook

About Citrix Synergy

Born as a user conference more than 10 years ago, Citrix Synergy will present the best ideas from leaders in virtualization, cloud computing and networking to help you build a simpler and more cost-effective IT environment. Citrix Synergy Berlin takes place October 6 to 7, 2010, at the Estrel Hotel and Convention Center. Citrix Synergy San Francisco will be held May 25-27, 2011 at Moscone West Convention Center. More information is available on the Citrix Synergy web site at http://www.citrixsynergy.com.

About Citrix

Citrix Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CTXS) is a leading provider of virtual computing solutions that help companies deliver IT as an on-demand service. Founded in 1989, Citrix combines virtualization, networking, and cloud computing technologies into a full portfolio of products that enable virtual workstyles for users and virtual datacenters for IT. More than 230,000 organizations worldwide rely on Citrix to help them build simpler and more cost-effective IT environments. Citrix partners with over 10,000 companies in more than 100 countries. Annual revenue in 2009 was $1.61 billion.


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