Citrix & HP Forge Virtualization Partnership

Citrix and HP are the latest server/virtualization combo to unify hardware, software UPDATED 3/21 12:35 PM

March 21, 2008

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

In a move that demonstrates the growing link between server vendors and server virtualization software suppliers, Citrix and Hewlett-Packard today announced a joint development and resale arrangement.

The deal calls for a previously announced enhanced version of Citrix's XenServer software to ship with 64-bit ProLiant servers in a package distributed by both Citrix and HP, starting March 31. Pricing for the package, called the Citrix XenServer HP Select Edition, will start at about $300 per server.

The OEM relationship covers HP's ProLiant servers, including BladeSystems. It is Citrix's fourth partnership of this type, following similar deals with NEC, Dell, and Chinese technology giant Lenovo.

According to Simon Crosby, CTO of Citrix's XenServer division, the integration with HP is more extensive than that with other server suppliers, because HP has integrated its virtualization management console with the hypervisor. (More on that momentarily.)

HP also has agreements with VMware and Microsoft to package those vendors' virtualization software with ProLiant servers, and HP plans to ship its VMware-integrated bundle on March 31, along with the Citrix combo. The Microsoft integration will ship only after Microsoft's Hyper-V Server hits the streets.The HP/Citrix deal is the latest evidence of synergies between server and virtualization vendors. VMware, for example, has announced plans to integrate its ESX Server 3i with servers from Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens, IBM, HP, and NEC.

Citrix plans other deals as well. "There will be continued development from us to ensure that users across the entire x86 product line have the ability to benefit from embedded virtualization," says Simon Crosby, CTO of Citrix's XenServer division. Obvious candidates in the x86 market would be Intel and IBM, although Crosby would not reveal who Citrix is talking to or its timeline for securing more deals.

Beyond the Basics

Citrix and HP both took the announcement as a chance to trumpet other aspects of their virtualization product lineup. Citrix, for instance, says XenServer also has been certified to work with HP's entire StorageWorks product line.

"It was limited certification before," Crosby says, adding that today's deal will help provide "very tight coupling" of the Xen hyper-visor and HP's storage arrays. "Modern arrays themselves support functions for snapshotting, cloning, and thin provisioning -- these are ideally suited to virtualization."Citrix has also integrated its hypervisor with HP's Virtual Machine Management Pack 3.5 software, which manages both physical and virtual machines, including Microsoft Virtual Server 2005, VMware's ESX Server 3i, Infrastructure 3, and VMware Server.

HP used the announcement to tout its HP ProLiant iVirtualization program, encompassing the range of ProLiant/virtualization alliances described above. "iVirtualization combines our industry-leading ProLiant servers with multiple virtualization technologies, then adds a high level of integration and management capabilities," said Scott Farrand, HP VP of Industry Standard Server Software, in a prepared statement. By better managing their technology infrastructures and resources using virtualization, customers will have more time to focus on initiatives that impact their bottom line.”

The fine points of today's announcement will no doubt surface over time, but a couple of details are notable: Unlike rival VMware, which uses its VMFS technology for handling virtual machine files, Citrix does not have its own clustered file system, preferring instead to rely on features within storage hardware. According to Simon Crosby, that's not a drawback, because he thinks VMFS is "overkill" for many organizations.

On HP's side, it seems that not all integrations are equal. One element of the iVirtualization portfolio, for example, works only with Citrix XenServer. That is the HP ProLiant Virtual Console, which gives users the ability to create and manage virtual machines on local or remote individual servers. The package lets users toggle between virtual machine consoles, display multiple consoles on one "multi-screen view," and create unlimited virtual machines with the right licensing. Eventually, HP plans to integrate its other virtualization partners' software into this console, but no timetable is offered. 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)

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • Fujitsu Siemens Computers

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Lenovo Group Ltd.

  • NEC America Inc.

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights