At least three things seem true in the virtualization industry:
1. It doesn't matter how many times a vendor repeats that free stuff doesn't compete against a feature-rich end-to-end solution, it will end up offering a free hypervisor
2. It doesn't matter how many surprises a vendor can pack for its premier conference, its competitors will do their best to steal the thunder
3. It doesn't matter how many NDAs a vendor puts in place to embargo its most amazing announcement, the news will leak out even before hang up the conference call
Today is one of those days when the three rules above are true at the same time: Stephen Vaughn-Nichols unveiled on his personal blog the news that next week (Feb 23), during the VMware VMworld Europe 2009 conference, Citrix will give away for free its XenServer hypervisor.
Vaughn-Nichols doesn't refer to a scaled down version of XenServer. He's reporting that the Enterprise Edition with all its features will become free (but not open source).
To compensate the lost revenue Citrix will release a new management package called Citrix Essentials, available in two editions, priced between $1,500 and $5,000 per server, one for XenServer and one for Microsoft Hyper-V.
This last version will be available as part of a renewed partnership with Microsoft, dubbed Project Encore.
Project Encore will also imply that System Center (possibly the entire product family and not just the Virtual Machine Manager) will manage XenServer.
The description Vaughn-Nichols provides sounds like a full overlap of the two virtualization offerings, so it will need some official clarification to exactly understand the strategy here.
Anyway it's a state of fact that every major virtualization vendor on the market now has a free, unlocked hypervisor.
This means two things:
* the battleground is officially shifted to virtual data center automation/orchestration
* the cost of entry for upcoming hypervisor providers (Parallels, Sun) is becoming huge
Who said "strict embargo" ?