Tuesday, April 8, 2008

IDC Virtualization Forum West – Simon Crosby

image Simon Crosby, formerly the Founder & CTO of XenSource and, since the acquisition, now the CTO of the Virtualization & Management Division at Citrix, did a very nice job with the morning's kick-off sponsor presentation at the IDC Virtualization Forum West conference.

Some takeaways that I found interesting:

  • Virtualization is not an end-goal in and of itself. Virtualization is a feature set and simply serves a role in IT Application Delivery.
  • Simon took a few jabs at VMware and, why not? Citrix/XenSource is now squarely positioned as the #2 contender. When you have the chance, you take a shot at the big boy. And, VMware is a big boy, to be sure. Simon said, "This is the year the world strikes back" (against VMware, I presume).
  • Simon also said, of one of the sleeping dogs in the Virtualization space, "Microsoft is going to radically change the environment for virtualization". Presumably with their Hyper-V solution and their partner muscle.
  • About the movement of the hypervisor into the firmware of server (and at some point), client computers: "Where this feature ends up is still in play -- in the OS, or in the hardware". Personally, I think the answer is clear. Hypervisors are becoming commoditized and will become a component of the hardware/firmware/BIOS. It can't be stopped.
  • Citrix will create a set of Open Extension API's for Value Added Dynamic Infrastructure Services. Basically a way for third-parties to interact with the lower layers as part of building a truly dynamic data center (which, EVERYONE is talking about getting to at the conference) - Something that we predicted while building the business plan for Cassatt in 2003. The industry/market is absolutely catching up.
  • I think I heard that XenDesktop will be released in Q2 of this year (i.e., soon).
  • On the issue of scaling the virtual desktop infrastructure: "When I talk about scale, the Desktop scales way worse than any Data Center". He cited a customer example where the customer has 250,000 desktop PC's. They absolutely DO NOT want to have 250,000 Virtual Machines! The Citrix approach to scale here is intriguing (and quite likely correct): Break the OS from the Configuration from the Applications. Assemble them in real time for the desktop virtual machine. Result is 1 (or a handful) of OS images that you have to deal with and patch in order to update thousands of desktop machines. Much better scale solution.

I liked what Simon had to say about the virtualization landscape. It is very clear that the choice of Citrix as their acquirer was a good one. Lots of good synergies between the companies.

I had lunch with Simon as well, and we continued the discussion. I was impressed with his understanding of the customer requirements and political challenges to the rollout of a virtualized infrastructure.

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