Microsoft and Citrix have opened a new chapter in the partnership between the two firms with the announcement of tools to help enterprises scale up and manage virtual machine deployments based on Microsoft's Hyper-V technology.
Available from the second quarter 2009, Citrix Essentials for Microsoft Hyper-V provides a management suite for virtual servers running on Microsoft's hypervisor, which is built into Windows Server 2008 and is also available as a compact standalone product, Hyper-V Server 2008.
The key point for customers is that Citrix Essentials, previously codenamed Project Encore, enables firms to scale up deployments using Hyper-V Server 2008, which is available to customers as a free download. It also supports Citrix's own XenServer product.
Simon Crosby, chief technology officer for virtualisation at Citrix, said the firm had planned for the day when hypervisor technology would become free. The differentiation is now in the management infrastructure, he added.
"Essentials helps admins scale Hyper-V out to enterprise deployments, and give greater agility," he explained.
Microsoft's director of virtualisation strategy, David Greschler, said that his firm is now seeing "mass adoption" of Hyper-V, and that Citrix is adding value to the company's virtualisation proposition through Essentials.
The suite provides features such as dynamic provisioning, Workflow Orchestration and Advanced StorageLink technology. The latter simplifies storage configuration and operation for virtual machines, according to Citrix.
Dynamic provisioning enables admins to boot a large number of virtual machines from a single "golden image", vastly reducing virtual machine sprawl, Crosby said.
The suite thus delivers some of the features found in VMware's datacentre line-up, and could attract firms just starting out with a virtualisation strategy.
"We're taking IT down the path towards delivering virtualisation as a service, and this gives firms an internal cloud they can call upon," he added.
Citrix Essentials for Microsoft Hyper-V will be available in two editions: Enterprise priced at $1,500 (£1,047) per physical server; and Platinum priced at $3,000 (£2,094). The more costly Platinum edition includes automated lab management tools lacking in the Enterprise version.
The software will be available through any Citrix or Microsoft channel partner as part of a joint go-to-market strategy, the two companies said.
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