Citrix Makes Storage Virtualization Move

NetApp teams up with Citrix for provisioning and cloning

April 1, 2008

3 Min Read
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Citrix joined forces in a technology partnership with NetApp today, underlining the growing convergence of server and storage virtualization.

"This is our first announcement [with NetApp] and it's the deepest integration that we have," says Simon Crosby, CTO of Citrix's virtualization division. "A huge amount of the innovation in virtualization is shifting into the area of storage."

In a nutshell, Citrix has built a set of plug-ins into version 4.1 of its flagship XenServer offering, launched today. The links use APIs in NetApp's Data OnTap software.

"We use OnTap to get functions such as provisioning, cloning, replication, backup, and recovery," says Crosby. "They are implemented by NetApp in the array, so we dont have to write them as software inside of XenServer."

This is a different approach from that taken by rival vendor and virtualization trailblazer VMware, which has its own in-built clustered file system called VMFS as part of its ESX Server offering.By tapping into the resources of NetApp, Citrix claims to save users the hassle of deploying duplicate file systems. "It’s a whole new bunch of training, it's a whole new bunch of software that they have got to buy," says Crosby.

At least one analyst thinks this approach makes sense.

"Being able to maintain the storage features in the system that you already have is a relevant point," says Mark Bowker of the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). "With VMware, there is a training aspect involved, but it depends on the size of the environment."

Despite the benefits of the Citrix/NetApp approach, Bowker warns that it could still be difficult for the vendors to claw market share from VMware and its VMFS-based approach to storage virtualization. "I have yet to hear anybody complain about VMFS from an end-user perspective," he says.

Citrix, which threw down $500 million for XenSource last year is nonetheless aiming to fire a shot across the bows of VMware with today's announcement, which follows XenServer OEM deals with Dell, HP, Lenovo, and NEC.The vendor also overhauled its pricing structure for the XenServer software today, shifting its pricing from processor sockets to a simpler, per-server cost model.

"We think it makes things far easier -- it makes it really easy for people to figure out the ROI," says Crosby, explaining that pricing for the XenServer Enterprise edition starts at $900 per server, compared to the previous entry-level price of $900 for two sockets.

XenServer 4.1 is not Citrix's first foray into the world of storage. The vendor has already announced an OEM deal with Symantec, enabling XenServer to handle volume-based SAN storage, and Crosby hinted that more integration is likely. "That partnership remains sound and strong," he says. "There will be news ahead."

Citrix also has a partnership with storage virtualization specialist DataCore, recently describing the vendor's offerings as the first 'Citrix ready' SAN solutions for XenServer.

Citrix's Crosby also promised that Citrix's storage efforts will extend beyond NetApp and Symantec. "There are other partnerships coming down the line -- what we have tried to do is get the XenServer APIs right and open up the APIs so that other storage vendors can integrate."Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)

  • FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Lenovo Group Ltd.

  • NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701)

  • NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Virtual Iron Software Inc.

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • XenSource Inc.

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