Teaming Up for Virtualization Solutions

Citrix and DataCore work together to fulfill the channel's growing desire for applications and storage

February 28, 2008

Joel Shore

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With the race to implement physical server virtualization in full swing, the separate but parallel efforts of virtualizing applications software and storage services continue to gain momentum.

The urgency of these efforts, driven in large part by tight IT budgets and increasing storage demand, is driving vendors together and was a key reason behind the Oct. 2007 acquisition of XenSource, a provider of enterprise-grade virtual infrastructure solutions, by application virtualization market leader Citrix Systems.

With Ft. Lauderdale-based Citrix concentrating on the application side, other vendors, including DataCore Software, a provider of virtualization software, are stepping up on the storage side.

“Storage virtualization goes hand-in-hand with server, desktop, and application delivery virtualization,” said George Teixeira, president and CEO of DataCore, also based in Ft. Lauderdale.

At its recent Citrix iForum conference, officials from Citrix put the XenSource acquisition in perspective by unveiling a new end-to-end virtualization strategy based on XenSource technology. The result is two new product lines, Citrix XenServer for server virtualization and Citrix XenDesktop for desktop virtualization. The products target enterprise IT operations, will be sold exclusively though Citrix partners, and are already forming a platform for compatible third-party products.

In a move to leverage Citrix’s more than 6,200 channel and alliance partners worldwide, DataCore submitted its SANmelody and SANsymphony virtual storage SAN solutions to Citrix and was among the first to be certified for Citrix XenServer under the Citrix Ready program. The two DataCore products convert standard Intel/AMD servers or virtual machines into storage servers that virtualize disks, serving them over existing networks to application servers.

DataCore’s products are handled by distributors Alternative Technology, the Englewood, Colo.-based software distribution arm of Arrow Electronics, and by Lifeboat Distribution, the Shrewsbury, N.J.-based distribution subsidiary of Wayside Technology Group.

“You cannot have the ‘server virtualization’ conversation with a client without also leveraging storage virtualization technologies,” said Jeff Propps, Server, Storage & Virtualization Product Lines Manager at Software Information Systems, an IBM Premier Business Partner and Microsoft Gold Certified Partner headquartered in Lexington, Ky.

Barry Davis, Citrix’s vice president of business development, agreed, adding that storage is critical to rapidly deploying virtualization solutions.

The case for virtualization is compelling. Research firm Gartner reported that in 2007, organizations with more than 200 servers wasted between $500,000 and $720,000 running servers at an average processor utilization of less then 7 percent. Prime-time utilization wasn’t much better, hovering at around a mere 15 percent. In it’s own report, IDC predicts that by 2010 shipments of servers used to run virtual machines will reach 1.7 million units. That’s nearly 15 percent of all servers shipped, triple the level of 2005.

According to IDC, total disk storage systems capacity shipped by vendors in the second quarter of 2007 was 1.2 exabytes, a leap of 50 percent from the same period just one year earlier.

DataCore’s Teixeira stressed the crucial role of channel partners in delivering virtualization solutions.

“Enterprise virtualization is a reality worldwide and solution providers are the ones on the front lines building enterprise-wide virtual infrastructures with Citrix, VMware, and other products. The reality is that [these products] make the benefits of thin provisioning practical and affordable, allowing anyone to virtualize, consolidate and automate the provisioning and management of their storage," Teixeira explained. Regarding DataCore’s products, Teixeira said they enable integrators’ clients to “extend the virtualization paradigm from server virtualization to storage virtualization, making the concept of total enterprise virtualization possible.”

The strategy behind DataCore’s approach, like those of VMware and Citrix, is not contingent upon a customer buying expensive hardware, said John Joseph, president of J4 Systems, a Rocklin, Calif. integrator that develops network infrastructure designs for clients in northern California. “DataCore’s hardware independent, thin provisioning software solutions enable any business to fully participate in the cost-saving benefits of virtualizing and consolidating its storage.”

DataCore has invested considerable resources in developing a relationship with the channel. Carlos Carreras, vice president of sales and business development, said DataCore “could not be happier with what our partners have done” by selling DataCore alongside Citrix and VMware. “Our partners understand that DataCore does for storage what VMware does for servers and what Citrix does for desktops.”

The XenServer product line is an enterprise-class platform for managing server virtualization in the datacenter.  Based on the Citrix’s Xen virtualization engine, XenServer combines server virtualization capabilities with scalability. The new product line ranges from Citrix XenServer Express Edition, a single-server solution, to the comprehensive Citrix XenServer Enterprise Edition.

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