Citrix has announced a new version of its XenServer virtualisation platform, alongside a new offering to power the infrastructure behind cloud-based computing applications.
XenServer 5 brings a new focus on performance, security and ease of use for operating virtual machines, the firm said.
The product also forms part of a portfolio of products called Citrix Cloud Center for hosting cloud-based IT services.
Available immediately, XenServer 5 has over 130 new features, but the most significant address high availability and disaster recovery, according to Simon Crosby, chief technology officer of Citrix's virtualisation and management division.
"We can now detect multiple failures and have a policy-based workload recovery. This means that an admin can assign priorities for the order in which virtual machines should be restarted, so high priority workloads restart first, " he said.
Fault-tolerance options also enable a XenServer system to be paired with a mirror for failover, and the mirror can be up to 100 miles distant. "We can guarantee five nines [99.999 per cent availability] with this," Crosby said.
XenServer 5 also has expanded storage array support, including dynamic fibre channel multi-pathing and support for Dell EqualLogic iSCSI kit.
"We're leveraging the built-in capabilities of these devices to enable things like thin provisioning and snapshots, so that fewer functions have to be executed on the host," said Crosby.
He added that this approach allows a snapshot to be executed in as little as 30 seconds, while it may take up to 10 minutes in a comparable VMware setup.
Citrix has also added new configuration wizards into XenServer 5, including point-and-click conversion of physical servers into virtual machines.
The entry-level Express version of XenServer 5 will be available as a free download, while the Standard edition costs $990 (£566), rising to $5,500 (£3,143) for the Platinum edition with features such as dynamic workload provisioning.
This lets administrators boot and deliver hundreds of workloads - such as virtual desktops - from a single image.
Citrix Cloud Center, also available from today, is aimed at organisations or service providers building a cloud-based computing infrastructure.
This largely brings together a portfolio of existing Citrix products such as NetScaler, WANscaler and Workflow Studio.
However, at its core is a special Cloud edition of XenServer. This includes an upgrade package for standalone Xen implementations, adding compatibility with Microsoft's Hyper-V so that cloud operators can offer customers the ability to boot and run virtual machines created using Microsoft's hypervisor.
Citrix Cloud Center will be available in two editions: Standard, which is a complete reference platform; and Open.
The key, according to Citrix, is flexibility. Not all of the components mentioned above are necessary for any specific cloud deployment, and because it is based on Xen cloud providers will be able to make use of third-party infrastructure and existing management tools.
In a departure from Citrix's usual licensing model, Citrix Cloud Center will be available under consumption-based pricing to better fit the metered usage model many cloud operators charge their customers.
Crosby said that Citrix had no plans to operate its own cloud using the technology, but would instead work with partners to kit out both new and existing cloud providers.
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