Thoughts on the Linux Foundation taking the driver’s seat for Xen

Well, the Linux Foundation has officially announced that they’re taking the reins of Xen.  I think this has major significant implications for a few key players, namely Amazon/Rackspace/other major Xen-based IaaS providers, Citrix, and VMWare.

For Amazon, Rackspace, and the number of other major IaaS providers that host on a Xen platform, this obviously will give even more visibility and stability to the hypervisor and toolstack development upon which their IaaS platforms are based.  With a founders list populated by the likes of Verizon Terremark, Google, Intel, Bromium, Oracle, AMD, Samsung, and other big names who also are contributing to the collaborative R&D, this validates the position of Xen as a proven hypervisor choice in the cloud provider market.  The interop with Openstack definitely doesn’t hurt it either.

For Citrix, handing over Xen to the Linux Foundation will hopefully gain it some backing in the open source community against the likes of KVM (RHEL) and VMWare.  Citrix isn’t planning at this point to decrease its investment or development contribution to Xen, along with continuing development of XenServer, the CloudStack management stack, and other Xen-based projects.  I think this puts them at a competitive advantage over VMWare at least in their virtualization-to-cloud journey.

As such, this may pose a challenge to VMWare.  I wonder how long the “VMWare Premium” is going to survive in it’s present form, without a major strategy shift to acknowledge the trend towards hypervisors as a commodity.  Many customers are realizing that VMWare’s not the only virtualization game in town, and for particular workloads, may not be the best performing, and certainly not the best value when costs are considered.  I wonder if we’ll start to see the hypervisor bubble built on VMWare virtualization begin to burst as customers start to think beyond VMWare – the numbers considering other options (including Hyper-V, which seems to be a growing preference for those looking to move off of VMWare) are not insignificant.  The closed-source model that has been enjoyed for so long may need to be reconsidered soon in light of the competition and the rate at which other options are proving themselves viable, if not preferable.

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