An Interview With Simon Crosby, CTO of XenSource

CTO talks about the competitive landscape and life beyond the hypervisor

October 26, 2007

3 Min Read
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By Andrew Conry-Murray, Network Computing, October 9, 2007

XenSource, which was recently acquired by Citrix, makes the open-source hypervisor XenExpress. It also licenses XenEnterprise, a feature-rich version of XenExpress that includes enhanced features such as live migration and a management console.

Simon Crosby, a founder and CTO of XenSource, is now officially CTO of Citrix's Virtualization and Management Division.

What is XenSource's strategy for competing with VMware?

VMware is ahead of all of us. But XenSource has unique gearing ratios to catch up. Xen is a community product so we get the benefit of that development ability, a rate of feature set development.VMware will tell you we are behind them in terms of the infrastructure around VMware. Our architecture and approach are different. VMware wants to buy, own, or build anything around virtualization, from backup to HA [high availability]. XenSource has a rich, open approach to the eco-system, and we work with the best vendors in every category.

Symantec signed an OEM deal with us, not them. Symantec Storage Management will be in update one of XenEnterprise. Symantec does backup for VMware, but the full power that Symantec has built is part of our product, and requires no new license for our product. If the customer uses Symantec today, they just plug into the APIs and use it. That's powerful.

Microsoft's forthcoming hypervisor, code-named Viridian, will include components from XenSource, making you partners and competitors. What's that relationship like?

If Microsoft will have a hope of being the platform of choice for virtualization, they will have to deal with different guest types. We deliver the enablements to let Linux to run as a first-class enlightened guest OS on top of the Viridian hypervisor. It will only be credible if it can virtualize things other than Windows.

But won't that take market share away from your own hypervisor?XenSource has never believed that the single per-unit instance of the hypervisor is where you make money. We want to drive volume adoption of virtualization and deliver tools and technology on top of that.

As you deliver resource pools in enterprise infrastructure, the tasks one has to do in terms of orchestrating this whole worldmanagement, security, so on and so on—there is a huge opportunity.

We don't need to own real estate. What we need is access to the objects that run in the privileged stack of the hypervisor that offer some form of value proposition. I am talking about sophisticated things that integrate storage, or the orchestration of the software life cycle. We get our fingers on complex, low-level system software to be orchestrated to make the union of storage, CPU, memory, and networks run seamlessly together.

Software is no longer tied to hardware, and as a result there is a new approach to managing the software life cycle, managing software images, and how you patch, and secure, and distribute, and install, and run them.

Viridian will be a good run-time engine for running virtual machines. But the enterprise-wide orchestration of the virtual infrastructure is more interesting. That's a $5 billion opportunity by 2010.

Figure 1: Simon Crosby, a founder and CTO of XenSource,
is now CTO of Citrix's Virtualization and Management division

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  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • XenSource Inc.

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