Citrix to VMware: "Don't let the door hit you on the way out!"

As Tim Mangan blogged earlier this week, Citrix iForum The App Delivery Expo, presented by Citrix, definitely had a huge virtualization focus..

As Tim Mangan blogged earlier this week, Citrix iForum The App Delivery Expo, presented by Citrix, definitely had a huge virtualization focus. ("Citrix VMworld" was the joke circulating through the closing party.)

Obviously this is fueled by Citrix's acquisition of XenSource, which now puts VMware squarely in the crosshairs of Citrix in terms of competition. And since Microsoft also hates VMware, and since Microsoft and Citrix constantly remind us how strong their partnership is, this means that Microsoft and Citrix now have a common enemy in addition for the love they have for each other.

But before Citrix made the XenSource acquisition, Citrix and VMware were very close friends. Citrix's Desktop Server product (now called "XenDesktop") leveraged VMware's technology for desktop VMs. Just last year Citrix's David Jones said, "We've worked with VMware in the past, and look forward to expanding our efforts with VMware in virtual desktop infrastructures as well."

What he didn't say was, "until of course we decide to compete against you."

Citrix has a long history of establishing partnerships with companies, building or buying competitive solutions, and kicking the partners out of their programs and not allowing them to participate at iForum. (Just ask Lakeside Software, eG Innovations, Expand Networks, Provision Networks, RTO Software... and there are dozens more examples.)

In the five hours of keynotes over two days at Citrix's App Delivery Expo this week, the word "VMware" was not mentioned once. Not one single time. Mark Templeton talked about Xen being the "Number Two" hypervisor on the market. He talked about what it did and showed demos. Of course a keynote presentation is not the appropriate time to mention competition by name or to get into tactical mud fights, but VMware definitely was the 800-pound gorilla in the room that no one dared mention.

After the opening keynote was over and the exhibit hall opened, I had a chuckle as I looked at VMware's booth. They were very literally shoved all the way back in the far left corner.

VMware's Booth at Citrix iForum 07

It was weird. There was so much empty space the exhibit hall. And then there's VMware, all the way in the back tucked into a corner. The booths in the center of the floor did not extend back that far such that the only way you would walk back there was if you were doing an Eulerian circuit or hugging the outside wall.

This wasn't the first snub that Citrix gave to VMware. Just two months ago VMware's own VMworld, Citrix and Microsoft announced that Citrix / Xen-based and Microsoft-based virtualization platforms would share the same VM format, effectively "flipping VMware the bird at their own conference," according to blogger Gabe Knuth.

VMware isn't just sitting down and taking all these punches though. VMware's CEO, Diane Green, said "we haven't seen any impact" when asked whether Citrix was hurting their sales.

At the closing party of Citrix's Expo, there was also a rumor that VMware kicked Citrix out of their partner program, although at the time of this writing I haven't been able to confirm that, and Citrix is still listed in VMware's partner showcase as a Global Technology Alliance Partner.

The bottom line though, if you didn't believe it before, is that "it's on!" between Citrix and VMware.

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Everyone wants to own the spotlight and I guess Citrix believes they have it now with Xen, TIME will tell! Great commentary however on your part. Thanks for sharing!
I think in this case, Citrix made an excellent move and effectively cut VMWare out of a lot of potential sales in the future. Why bother with VMware for your Citrix environment if you get Xen right off the bat? This all depends on how Citrix continues to develop/support/sell & market Xen/PS of course. If they follow through then you can say bye bye VMware for Windows platforms.
For support and broad usage, VMware wins because of its installed user base and fantastic forum site, etc., and because it can run on any server built in the last 3 years or so.
XenSource does not have VMware's breadth of support, and it specifically requires x64 processors. BUT XenSource is much much cheaper than VMware and offers most of the same features, which will work well for SMBs.
As one of the people Citrix who has been engaged with VMware for a few years, I find this whole post amusing.

The fact is that VMware was a sponsor at the App Delivery Forum and received the same mention and benefits as other Silver sponsors during the keynotes. Neither VMware nor Citrix treated each other any different WRT to presence at each other's major customer event (VMworld and App Delivery Forum).

Yes the relationship will change, as we have entered the Server and Desktop virtualization market with the introduction of Citrix XenServer and Citrix XenDesktop.

However, there are a whole range of Citrix products - Provisioning Server, Presentation Server, Access Gateway, NetScaler, XenDesktop Server and WANscaler - that in some form or fashion can be used in conjuction with a VMware product. And I for one, fully expect to see combinations of Citrix and VMware products integrated into customer solutions for a long time to come.

Perhaps VMware shouldn't have gone after Citrix customers, promoting their VDI as an option to using Citrix Presentation Server. You can claim Citrix started it with VMware, but you have to ignore that quite a few Citrix customers have been approached by VMware to try VDI. Did you expect Citrix to just stand by and risk losing a percentage of their PS customers to VMware's VDI?
You guys are all correct. However, there is an interesting piece of the puzzle there that's missing. The future of virtualization is not in the software but the hardware. I see companies like Intel, AMD, Fujitsu, among others becoming big players in the market as virtulization migrates from software based to more hardware based/oriented. I definitely see this happening in the next 2 or 3 years. Full hardware virtualization implemented at the "bare metal" level is the next step in virtualization technology. This would allow the OS itself to have the virtualization capability without the need of an extra layer by introducing these features directly into its kernel. I think Citrix and VMware are in for a big surprise in the next few years as this technology is perfected. Of course, companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Red hat and other OS vendors will benefit the most from this significant change since they can include the functionality directly in their kernels. This change is definitely coming. Write the date I said this down. This will be around 2009 - 2010.
I believe Citrix has played its cards right, and it has learn to play the partner game quite well. Considering that they are basically sub-contracters to MSFT for their terminal services API's they have learned their lessons and have learned them well.

My takeaway so-far is this. VMware has done a lot of work with physical to virtual Server migrations, Back-ups, and High-Availability and has helped to establish the dominate design for Server Virtualization. Citrix is the leader in application hosting though, and I think they will be able to leverage their experience with app delivery, connection brokering, and user profile managment to lead the desktop virtualization adoption and most likely establish the dominate design for that. They also have the best network support infrastucture for delivering these solutions as well. So as much as I like VMware and their products, I believe in the end Citrix will be able to use their partnership with MSFT, and the Xen Open Source adoption to surpass VMware's early lead.

I believe VMwares problem is their salesforce isn't securing the contracts, and their product shifts have not been quick enough to take advantage of the upcoming shifts.

This coming from a major ESX server customer who loves VMware products.

We will see though, the next few years will be interesting.
I agree with the previous poster that once the virtualization can be handled fully at the machine core, i.e. bare metal, it's simply a matter of implementing this function at the kernel level, making the OS developers able to include the virtualization functionality at the OS core level. This would yield significantly higher performance than any post-OS layer of virtualization like the ones we use today. This means good-bye VMWare and good-bye Citrix virtualization products. What I disagree with him (the other posted who commented on this idea) on is the time frame. I think that he neglected to consider the market interests and the financial profits virtualization software companies would be losing from this. Consider the gasoline powered vehicle and the vehicle that requires no fossil fuels. The idea has existed for years and the technology as well, but powerful oil companies won't let this happen. The same could apply to this virtualization technology. I do agree with him 100% on the next logical step aspect. It IS the next logical step. In fact, it will happen but not in 2 - 3 years. I think more like 5 - 10 years.
Virtualization is about a lot more than just the hypervisor itself. VMWare saw the writing on the wall a few years ago and responded by focusing on the entire virtualization infrastructure, changing their flagship product moniker to reflect that. VMWare Infrastructure is all about management, high availability, portability, DR, and dynamic hardware resource allocation. I think that VMWare will welcome the shift in focus away from the hypervisor, towards managing a virtual infrastructure as nobody can touch VMWare's VI right now. The latest improvements shipping with v3.5 have widened the gap into a canyon with technologies like Storage vMotion, Update Manager, Site Recovery Manager, Guided Consolidation, and Virtual Desktop Manager in addition to the already available HA, DRS, VMotion, and VCB. If Citrix/Microsoft want to grab significant market share from VMWare for Enterprise virtualization infrastructure, then they have a long way to catchup.

The new website from Citrix for XenDesktop - - tries hard to convince us that Citrix has the answer for all encompassing, end-to-end virtualization whether you want to use SBC, VDI, app provisioning or any mix thereof. It will be interesting to see if Citrix is able to convince CTOs and other movers and shakers that they truly understand virtualization and can deliver performance and reliability comparable to VMWare while also delivering on the VDI and SBC fronts. If Citrix can pull that off and actually deliver on the promises, then VMWare will have a formidable competitor to content with.
I can see how this would say bye bye to VMware, but the Citrix XenSource tools don't care what hypervisor is used. All that maters is the disk format (VHD). Today you can use Xen with the XenSource tools. Tomorrow you can use Microsoft Viridian with the XenSource tools. And when the virtualization is no longer a software hypervisor but a feature of the hardware, you'll likely be able to use the XenSource tools with that as well as long as VHD is being used for the disk. Even when the hypervisor is part of the hardware, you'll still need tools to manage the hardware as part of your enterprise, which is what XenSource tools are... enterprise management that's not tied to the type of hypervisor (software based, or future hardware based versions) you use.

That's a different story than VMware, which uses proprietary technology, so that their hypervisor and their tools to manage the enterprise pretty much only works with their own stuff. If they're going to make their stuff work with hardware based hypervisors, they're going to have to change from their proprietary model.
What VMWare and Citrix have neglected is that market share for Virtuozzo is increasing at an accelerated rate. VMWare is scared because they keep losing deals to SWSoft.

Also, when it comes right down to it. Features like vMotion, DRS, and HA are all marketing fluff. We've suddenly turned 95% servers (and workstations) that have generally have a low SLA into ones that need 5 9s. If you need the 5 9s, then go with XenServer with Marathon for a fraction of the cost and better availability.
Great to see all the discussion, especially around the concerns around will Citrix be able to deliver on their vision which I think is a good one. On the flip side of the coin how complete is the vision VMWare has? I do see many gaps with what VMWare is proposing. For one VMWare has no application virtulization strategy, so am I really going to spin up a new OS every time and incur greater cost just to deal with apps here are there? Are they going to partner with Citrix to provide ICA support? Over distance with all the extra goodies ICA provides over RDP, it makes a difference. Is VMWare going to partner on the ICA front of buy or build their own. I think they will buy their own just to return fire fo Xen. ICA with the Apollo pieces looked really cool. I am sure Citrix will make that available on Xendesktop before they will on VMWare. Perhaps they say Xen, Veridian and then VMWare in the future, and relegate VMWare to a second tier hypervisor so leverage ICA more to catch up with market share. Management on VMWare sucks. Loads of missing pieces, VC doesn't scale that well either. People keep talking about support in theses threads. My experience with VMWare support is that it is very average. I have shown them apps running slower on a hypervisor than native XP, and the standard answer is call the app guys. So they bought Propera and Dunes, unclear how good their integration or execution ability will be, or what they will actually do. I see the risk here greater than Xendesktop, since I believe the mindset at VMWare is about the datacenter. They don't get desktops based on my interactions with them. Many people can use Citrix for remote access, so I can see lot's of future integration points there that would lead to many wanting to take a much closer look at Xendesktop. Then their is the Ardence piece. The demo at iForum was cool, and I see VMWare not partnering, but trying to build their own, what's that all about..... We often beat Citrix up for throwing out partners etc, but is VMWare any different? Which company is providing me with more options today, and understands and has more pieces of the jigsaw? I would argue Citrix is the leader on the desktop and VMWare is the leader on the server side. Really both companies need to play together for some time to bring virtualization to the mainstream, way too early to go to war, and the market is huge.
Both VMWare and Citrix/MS made announcements with PC manufacturers that their virtualization code was going to be internally imbedded with the hardware. They are the ones with the patents and the software code - not Intel or AMD.
Since new servers are 64bit - I do not see Xen only running on 64bit boxes as a limitation.
I think it will take 6 months to 1 year for Citrix/Xen to gain momentum.
I think VMWare will start seeing their growth slow down once Windows2008 Server comes out.
I am sure some of the virtualization code will be with the OS in Windows 2008.
I welcome any comments to my comments. None of us have a crystal ball.
BTW - nice article Brian!
"Both VMWare and Citrix/MS made announcements with PC manufacturers that their virtualization code was going to be internally imbedded with the hardware. They are the ones with the patents and the software code - not Intel or AMD"

--- This is not what the previous posters were saying. They were saying that the virtualization IS the CPU. This is completely different from what exists today. And, of course, this is Intel's and AMD's arena. The programming portion would be integrated at the OS level (ex: Microsoft, RedHat, etc). With this approach, products like Virtualization software would become obsolete becuase they would be integrated at the kernel level in the OS. This is what the other two posters were trying to bring up. And I completely agree with them. In fact, I know it will be this way. I work for Intel as a technical designer and I have seen this on the drawing boards.
[i]This is what the other two posters were trying to bring up. And I completely agree with them. In fact, I know it will be this way.[/i]

I have to agree, this seems the only logical progression. Over the longer term the hardware vendors will win the hypervisor war , not VMWare/Xen or any other software providor. It would interesting to hear Simon Crosby's view on this as he is not only a great Xen evangelist but also an ex Intel guy!!!

If this turns out to be true then I'd back Citrix over VMWare as they have a vision which accomodates desktops or servers running on [i]any[/i] virtualised platform, and backs this up with a plethora of other products which increase the value proposition.

VMWAre now have to evolve or die, just like Citrix has. but I'm sure thay have several years in which to do so.
I agree also with the above, but that is because I have seen this in action already, you have been able to buy IBM Open Power 710 , 720 servers that can run upto 10 linux kernals with hardware hypervisor built in and no loss of performance for the last few years for under $2000.00, so what you are suggesting is not really new but just more vendors jumping on the hardware virtualisation bandwagon, Citrix breadth of portfolio, knowledge and message of "Application Delivery" are the key, as this defines them as a holistic strategic player that can help any size enterprise deliver flexible, powerful environment's to their end users / partners / client base. AG

We are at the beginning of the virtualization market... which will become a commodity in the next 5+ years.
The hypervisor is now becoming a basic piece of a virtualization infrastructure and we are now moving to a complete virtualization infrastructure automation... Hypervisor is now free (from Citrix, MSFT and partially from VMWare). Market will shift from VMM/Hypervisors to VM management. Today, nobody is there but there is 3 players :
- VMWare : the leader of the market with 5 years technology advance. The only revenu is hypervisor which will become free in the near futur. Have a lot of money in the bank (now and future) for technologie acquisition to manage VM's.
- Microsoft : entering the VMM market for years with VirtualServer and will introduce soon Viridian. Behind (now) in term of technolgoy. Own the OS space. Have other source of revenue to competite and invest in this market where VMM will be free.
- Citrix : entering the VMM market with emerging technology. Be use to manage 100+ servers/200+ apps/100 000 users configuration. Have other sources of revenue to competite and invest in this market space.

Don't know who will win if anyone will ever do... They are all in good shape to move to this new marketspace of VM Management (or Datacenter automation). Market will become so big that I see all three sharing the market space in the near future. See you in 3 years...

Does anyone know if xen will run on a normal 32 bit server?
Xen or XenSource? v4.0.1 of XenSource will only run on 64-bit, nd you need Intel VT or AMD-V extensions if you want to run Windows guests.
Had to laugh at this title...nothin like a bit of controversy.
Cant help to think though that this is a like a repeat of Mark Templeton giving a presentation on the then newly released Secure Access Gateway, and showing a Gardner Magic Quadrant of the marketplace - Cisco and Juniper lightyears ahead. But that didnt stop the aging CEO from claiming that Citrix was positioned to jump ahead of the leaders....nearly 3 years later, Citrix is still eating dust in that market compared to the big boys.
But still entertaining to hear the "belivers" out there given that Xensource is just starting to learn to crawl ; )
Please provide your source that 3 years later Citrix is still eating dust in Access Gateway's market.
My informed sources confirm that VMware purposely minimized Citrix's marketing opportunities and presence at VMworld; and conversely, Citrix responded in kind at iForum. Good post Brian ... and good eye.
According to the Citrix executives that I spoke with (including Templeton), VMware chose the location of their booth. It wasn't a Citrix snub...
In Citrix Systems' CTXS second quarter, the company's application networking business expanded much more slowly than competitor F5 Networks FFIV. Citrix's application networking business grew 12% versus 2006, while F5 grew 27%. As we have continually been suggesting, we believe Citrix will lose share to this dominant provider. Additionally, though it is early in the game, we believe that Citrix will be challenged to compete against other application networking vendors, such as F5, Riverbed RVBD, and Cisco CSCO.

Go to morningstar if you need more details.....
I guess I wouldnt have expected some Execs. to say "yeah, we really got those VMware boys good, didnt we? Would have put a curtain around them as well if we would have found one long enough." ; )
Didn't really answer the request. From last I heard Citrix was now #2 in units shipped from an SSL VPN perspective.
The Access Gateway isn't part of Citrix's application networking business, nor does it really compete much as all with F5. It's an SSL VPN that competes head to head with other leading SSL VPN's. like Juniper. Sales of Access Gateway are part of Citrix's virtualization business, which includes the old Access Suite stuff (Presentation Server, Password Manager, Access Gateway). Citrix's application networking business includes NetScaler, WanScaler, and Application Firewall, and given how NetScaler's market share was far greater that F5's prior to 2006, it's common sense that the bigger company's percentage of growth in 2006 isn't going to be as big as the percentage of growth of the smaller guy. But again, those numbers have nothing to do with Access Gateway. Just because the enterprise version of Access Gateway runs on the same NetScaler hardware doesn't mean sales of Access Gateway are part of Citrix's application networking business. As someone else pointed out, Access Gateway is #2 in SSL VPN units shipped. Please do your research next time before you claim the market to be something it's not.
According to the VMware people I spoke to, they did NOT choose that spot. :)
Big deal boo hoo. VMWare did they fair share of snubbing to Citrix at VMWare like uninviting them from partner conversations.
VM Ware support and forums is horrible.  Put the bong down dude!   ;-)