Citrix Explains the New Essentials

Set for an April release, the Citrix Essentials packages will add more to the now-free but still fully-featured XenServer

Citrix announced the details today of how it will do business now that XenServer is a free product: the company will sell a new product, Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V and XenServer.

The free version of XenServer isn't a crippled version. It includes all the features that were included in XenServer Enterprise other than advanced high-availability functions. Simon Crosby, CTO of Citrix's virtualization and management division said that unlike its competition, the free version of XenServer provides much more than a hypervisor. Citrix provided the chart shown here to demonstrate what comes in the free XenServer.

Essentials will extend the abilities of both Hyper-V and Xenserver—Crosby said that though there is some occasional overlap between the companies' products, Citrix is focused on extending the capabilities of Microsoft products instead of competing with Microsoft. The two hypervisors are very compatible—a server can be moved from XenServer to Hyper-V, though not as a live migration.

Essentials adds high-availability functions but also adds new features, such as StorageLink, which manages storage so that virtual machines (VMs) can have full access. Crosby said storage management is what people will need from virtualization products now that workloads can be moved around easily.

"I think a hypervisor is easier," Crosby said. "Storage is hard."

Essentials will also support dynamic provisioning, allowing you to boot multiple systems from a single image. Essentials' image manager will be able to dispense machine images not only to be run as VMs but also to boot client and server system hardware. The Platinum Edition of Essentials will also add automated lab management for easier testing in virtual environments.

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