Nowhere are the differences between Xen and VMware more clear than in their strategies. Citrix CTO Simon Crosby highlighted the difference in a recent conversation, noting, "Citrix' value proposition has been about agile delivery to end users compared to an agile data center," which VMware touts as its key advantage.
While the two strategies aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, Crosby believes Xen's approach will give it the upper hand in an economy circling the drain where, "IT is being held accountable for the sins of the past, even if they weren't IT's sins" and consumer trends are driving business trends.
When Crosby says agile delivery he is by and large referring to cloud computing, which he describes as, "the easiest virtualized computing power out there." Crosby said he believes cloud computing will explode as companies set out to virtualize on a dime. Of course, not everything is suitable to run on the cloud.
Certainly not mission-critical apps or anything requiring Sarbanes-Oxley , HIPAA, or other compliance. But test and dev is ideal, as is Web administration, HPC and other non-mission-critical tasks.
Crosby hit on seven key actions CIOs must take to succeed in this increasingly tough marketplace. Although the tips come off somewhat glib, Crosby said, "we're actually doing all of these things ourselves." They are his "humble" observations of effective steps Xen has taken and exemplify "how we're changing how we work using our own technology."
- Xen is everywhere (and virtually free). Use it: Well, it should be no surprise he wants Xen to be the virtual environment of choice.
- Be the cloud (or be gone): Think of your data center as a delivery center. If you don't have the resources to be a cloud, and relatively few enterprises do, consider using one of Amazon's cloud options.
- Embrace the "power of one": In other words, a single copy of each app, OS, workload, data and a single password for each user to get there.
- Make it easy (really easy) to work from anywhere: Think laptops as well as mobile devices, especially iPhones.
- Throw a BYOC [bring your own computer] party. See who shows up: Give each employee a fixed amount of money, and tell them to buy their own computer and support contract
- Get hooked on "all-you-can-meet" virtual meetings: GoTo Meeting, Webex and their ilk are decent substitutes for sending an exec halfway across the country for a two-hour meeting. Running your apps from a cloud facilitates the capability to do this effectively.
- Hang out at your local Apple Store. Take notes: Consumer choices are driving IS organization choices. To quote Gartner, "By the end of 2010 end-user choice will determine up to 50% of all software, hardware and services delivered by IT."
The picture Crosby paints is quite different from that of VMware, which was further solidified in an announcement VMware and Symantec made on Tuesday. VMware will deepen its coupling with Veritas Cluster Server (VCS) by offering cooperative support through the Technical Support Alliance Network (TSANet), making it easier for for mutual customers to leverage Veritas Cluster Server in VMware ESX in VMware environments. There will also be deeper integration between VCS and VMware Infrastructure for more efficient disaster recovery and high availability solutions, including VMotion. In addition, a variety of enhancements have been made to VCS to enable it to work more effectively with vCenter.
But looking more closely at Crosby's vision of the ideal data center, it's pretty clear he's angling this vision at the most tech savvy of organizations, one that coalesces with Gartner's prediction that "Consumerization will be the single biggest trend affecting corporate IT over the next 10 years," and which may indeed be a rapidly growing group.
However, the idea of "Throw a BYOC [bring your own computer] party. See who shows up," would at the very least make the compliance folks squirm, and might in fact end up costing the employer more down the line when work can't be done because a PC is broken or unable to perform while the employee waits for servicing from an OEM because it's no longer the IT organization's job.
Differentiation and choice is by and large a good thing though. Citrix laying out a vision that sets it clearly apart from VMware can only help. Especially for enterprises looking to approach virtualization from a bare-bones cost-cutting angle without the dough on hand to shell out for hardware. In general though this is a version of Utopia the real world will temper (or trounce).
Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering virtualization since 2001.
This article was first published on ServerWatch.com.