Citrix recently annonced the release XenServer 6.2 virtualization solution, fully-featured, for free and OpenSource.
Citrix XenServer was actually already partly OpenSource because based on the Xen Project but had enterprise-class features on top of it. In my opinion, XenServer is a great product now that it’s OpenSource, it should become even greater!
Let me go through some aspects of this product
Free as of now, and will remain free!
Free as in Lesser GNU Public License v2, free to download, to install, share and modify. The community is now welcome to contribute.
Citrix will continue to provide support subscriptions at reasonable prices ($500 annualy per socket) for businesses requiring the best availability possible.
XenServer runs great on commodity hardware
There is an extensive compatibility list but XenServer is actually likely to run on almost any hardware. Among the ones I tried:
- AMD E-350 APU board, (TDP 18W)
- Dell Optiplex 380 workstation (Intel Core 2 based)
Why this is interesting?
From my experience, most SMB get expensive pieces of hardware, poorly configured and not maintained.
XenServer is easy to use
It seems that many people beleive Citrix products are complicated and reserved to large enterprises. I have to agree that its installation wizzard is not exactly sexy for those not familiar with Linux environment. But, the truth is that your install can be done in about 20 minutes and it works directly.
And once the install is finished, we can enjoy the XenCenter management tool and its nice icons!
Add computers to your pool and be on your way to the moon! Depending on RTO and RPO, this can be done with commodity hardware.
Command-line never killed anyone
Some operations may require typing some command lines but fear not, useful commands are well documented and it leaves the door open to custom scripts and automation!
How does it compare to VMWare ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V?
ESXi may be easier to approach, possibly more fool-proof but also limited as a free product.
Hyper-V feels very young, it hits where it hurts (Licensing costs) and that may be a good enough argument for most be for me it feels like it needs maturing and I don’t feel like I have enough control as an Admin.
SMBs may hesitate to deploy in-house services because of the complication and the costs implied or simply renounce to go virtual. This time should end now with an awesome platform like XenServer going free and open source.
Maybe not the best for all uses but definitively enterprise class and you can’t beat the price!