Let's continue stepping through Tuesday's many virtualization announcements from Microsoft. Today we'll look at an announcement about how Microsoft and Citrix are going to work together even tighter in the virtualization space. As we re-capped yesterday, Microsoft and Citrix announced months ago that Hyper-V and Xen would share the same virtual disk formats and that tools from Citrix (XenSource) would be able to manage both Hyper-V and Xen virtual machines, so Tuesday's announcement was really more of an extension of previous announcements.
From the press release:
Citrix is developing a software tool that will allow customers to easily transfer virtual machines between Citrix XenServer and Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V to help ensure greater interoperability for customers. A test version of the tool will be available in the second quarter, and a final version will be available with the release of Hyper-V.
Remember that Hyper-V is scheduled to be released six months after Windows Server 2008, so that puts it somewhere in the late-August 08 timeframe.
I don't actually 100% understand what this tool will do, because I thought it was already announced that these VM formats would be the same? Either way, it's easy to understand what this tool does, and it's cool that it will exist.
There was another part of the press release that I found more confusing:
Microsoft offers infrastructure virtualization software ... along with a comprehensive management platform, such as Microsoft System Center, to manage both virtual and physical infrastructure and applications. Microsoft delivers a simple, integrated management solution to manage across customers’ infrastructure: from the physical to the virtual; from the hardware to the application and services.
The phrases Microsoft used--"comprehensive management platform," "integrated management solution."--sound to me like Microsoft is positioning themselves that they can offer all you need for your virtual environment. Where does this leave Citrix?
If you read back through the announcements of the past several months, the "deal" was that Microsoft would provide Hyper-V, and Citrix would provide the management of Hyper-V via XenSource and Provisioning Server (Ardence). But how does System Center fit into this?
I posed this question to both the Citrix and Microsoft folks I talked to on the phone. They positioned it that Citrix is providing "capabilities," not "management tools" per se. These "capabilities" will be things like dynamic virtualization services, on-demand storage, provisioning of disk images, virtual machine streaming, interoperability between Hyper-V and Xen, etc.
So Citrix will "manage" these low-level capabilities, and then Microsoft (via System Center) will "manage the managers." What a great deal for Microsoft! They can be the manager without having to do the hard stuff. But what a great deal for Citrix! Without them, Microsoft's "comprehensive management platform" isn't quite so comprehensive.