Citrix, HP Play 'Let's Make a Deal'

HP agrees to integrate custom version of XenServer and provide support.

Citrix today announced a major deal with HP as part of its plans to grow the market for XenServer, the virtualization software it gained last year with its $500 million dollar purchase of XenSource.

The "strategic development and distribution agreement" with HP (NYSE: HPQ) bundles an enhanced version of Citrix XenServer with 64-bit HP ProLiant servers that HP will both market and support.

"It's all the technology you need for a complete virtualization plan that's HP-branded," Simon Crosby, chief technology officer of Citrix' virtualization and management division, told

The Citrix XenServer HP Select Edition also includes HP management tools like its Integrated Lights-Out (iLO) for remote server management and a new HP ProLiant Virtual Console that's designed to manage virtual as well as physical servers.

Crosby said ProLiant customers will be able to use the same management systems for virtualization they're used to, including HP Systems Insight Manager (SIM), for a consolidated view of system hardware, configuration, performance and status.

Citrix will also offer a license key and a USB with the XenServer HP Select Edition preloaded to the installed base of ProLiant owners for $299.

Last October, Citrix (NASDAQ: CTXS) announced a deal with Dell to embed XenServer with Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) servers by the end of this quarter. But Crosby said the deal with HP is specifically designed to tap into what he called HP's richer management and support portfolio.

The news comes a day after Microsoft announced the beta release of Hyper-V, its long-awaited virtualization engine for Windows Server 2008. Crosby said Microsoft's entry didn't prompt or influence its plans to pursue HP.

"We're close partners with Microsoft and their plans have been clear for a long time," said Crosby. "We'll be compatible with Hyper-V." He also noted that HP's virtual machine manager manages both Microsoft's software and that of virtualization leader VMware.

"We don't want to be an enterprise systems management provider," said Crosby. "Our stated agenda is to work with the best out there, and this deal with HP is the first example."

Microsoft's entry is considered especially significant since its will be able to offer its virtualization as part of Windows Server 2008.

"I think it's great from the standpoint of IT customers who will get a wide variety of virtualization choices even if the process of deciding what to use is getting a bit more complicated," Charles King, analyst with Pund-IT, told .

King said Citrix's deal with HP makes a lot of sense in the context of Microsoft's upcoming moves. "It's becoming more critical than ever to get visibility because Microsoft will get plenty for Hyper-V when it's released," said King.

As for price differences, King said for many IT shops it will come down to functionality and value. "If Microsoft can deliver high quality management features and integration, that's going to be bad news for VMware and other virtualization providers. We'll see."

TAGS: Microsoft,virtualization,Dell,HP,VMware

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