Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Roger Strukhoff, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Jason Bloomberg

Related Topics: Virtualization

Virtualization: Article

"Virtualization Is Now a Key Strategic Theme," Says Citrix CTO

Exclusive Q&A with Simon Crosby, CTO of Citrix & Founder of XenSource

"Virtualization is already widely used, but primarily for the first-order benefit, namely server consolidation," notes Citrix CTO Simon Crosby, in this Exclusive Q&A with SYS-CON's Virtualization Journal. "The second-order benefits of agility, availability and manageability of the IT stack are now becoming better understood," Crosby continues, "and as a consequence virtualization has moved from a tactical tool for gaining immediate savings, to become a key strategic theme for every IT department."

About Simon Crosby:
Now CTO of Citrix Systems, Simon Crosby was founder and CTO of XenSource prior to the acquisition of XenSource by Citrix. Prior to XenSource, he was a principal engineer at Intel where he led strategic research in distributed autonomic computing, platform security and trust. In 2007, he was awarded a coveted spot as one of InfoWorld’s Top 25 CTOs.

Virtualization Journal: Starting at 35,000 ft…where does the Xen hypervisor fit in the virtualization universe?
Simon Crosby: The Xen hypervisor is the industry’s most strategic code base for virtualization. Why? First, it is a tiny, optimized, open source reference standard hypervisor for a wide range of CPU architectures, with extensive support for high performance virtualization-enhanced CPUs and I/O subsystems. Because it has multiple routes to market in any given year, the hardware manufacturers ensure that Xen has “first and best” support for the latest hardware, ensuring that it always leads the industry in scalability and performance. In addition:
  • It is collaboratively built by the industry’s leading IT vendors, led by Citrix and including Intel, AMD, IBM, HP, Novell, Red Hat, Sun, VA Linux and many others.
  • The Xen security architecture is contributed by the security community, including researchers, IBM’s secure hypervisor project, the NSA and DoD.
  • Xen is used in the world’s largest virtualization deployments, for example by Amazon, with a deployment of thousands of servers virtualized using Xen.
  • The Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor is in fact an implementation of the Xen reference architecture, built by Microsoft, and compatible with Citrix XenServer.
Virtualization Journal: The first public release of Xen was made available in 2003, how long did it take for you and your Cambridge collaborators to get it to that stage?
Crosby: The Xen code base has been in development now for seven years. When we started XenSource, we had released Xen 2.5, and were working on Xen 3.0.

Virtualization Journal:
What was and is the relationship between XenSource, Inc. and the Xen project?
Crosby: XenSource’s founders – all former University of Cambridge faculty who developed Xen in their research – decided that the Xen hypervisor needed a company to support its ongoing development when large users of Xen told us that we needed to build a complete product offering based on Xen so they could be confident that their commercial deployments would have the backing of a commercial entity.

Virtualization Journal: XenSource still hosts the xen.org site – what’s the situation there, since the Citrix acquisition? Will the community and its processes continue to be respected?
Simon Crosby: XenSource is part of Citrix – indeed XenSource is no longer a formal entity at all. Citrix hosts xen.org for the community, but it is run entirely separately from all of our product development activity. The community site at www.xen.org has its own program manager, tasked with serving the community and the Xen project Advisory Board.


The board oversees the day-to-day project management processes, and sets policies such as the trademark policy for the Xen® brand. The advisory board members come from Intel, IBM, HP, Novell, Red Hat and Sun, and the Chair is Ian Pratt, the Xen project leader, from Citrix. Citrix has already invested heavily in additional headcount on Xen, and is a sponsor of the upcoming Xen Summit, to be held in conjunction with Usenix in Boston, in June.


Virtualization Journal: If paravirtualization equals second-generation virtualization, what will third-generation virtualization look like?
Simon Crosby: From a hypervisor architecture perspective, there is very little left to “optimize away” in the way that paravirtualization allows us to slim down the code base. What will happen is that all of the data center infrastructure, from CPUs to memory management, to I/O chipsets and even storage subsystems will become “virtualization aware” and assist with the job of speeding up what formerly had to be done either in the hypervisor or the virtualization stack that drives it.

Within the next year, I/O Virtualization (often called IOV) standardized by the PCI SIG will start to be supported by fabric and I/O card vendors. This allows optimized fast-path I/O between guests and hardware in a virtualization-safe manner, without needing to use the driver stack offered by the virtualization platform itself. This effectively removes most of the remaining overhead of virtualization. We recently demonstrated XenServer with a performance of about 10,000 iSCSI IOPS on a 10Gb/s IOV card from SolarFlare, for example. This means that the most challenging workloads can now be virtualized.


Virtualization Journal: How about embedded hypervisors, what’s the future trajectory there?
Crosby: Citrix XenServer is now an add-in option at point of sale on over 50 percent of x86 servers worldwide. We recently announced a jointly developed embedded product with HP for ProLiant servers that HP refers to as its “preferred embedded virtualization option for ProLiant.” Putting the virtualization platform in hardware is, in our view, the next natural progression for the industry, since OEMs can leverage the capabilities of the hardware through their add-on systems management stacks to offer customers powerful, seamless management for virtualization as a built-in component of the management stack.

For customers, this is the cheapest and highest performance virtualization offering available, and it has the full benefit of complete integration with all of HP’s management tools. At the same time, Microsoft with Hyper-V in the OS, and the Linux vendors with Xen have the opportunity to leverage the same code base through a different delivery model, where the OS virtualizes more instances of that OS, or other guests. This model is still in its early stages – the Linux vendors don’t virtualize Windows well, and Microsoft Hyper-V doesn’t support Linux particularly well.



Virtualization Journal: It has inevitably been said that 2008 is, at long last, The Year of Virtualization. What do you think took everyone in Enterprise IT so long?
Crosby: Enterprise IT has not been standing still. Indeed virtualization is already widely used, but primarily for the first-order benefit, namely server consolidation. The second-order benefits of agility, availability and manageability of the IT stack are now becoming better understood, and as a consequence virtualization has moved from a tactical tool for gaining immediate savings, to become a key strategic theme for every IT department.

But there is also another key factor that changes in 2008. Until this year the competition in the market was really only VMware and XenSource – a tiny startup. The acquisition by Citrix gives our product, XenServer, a huge channel, a large investment in features, additional value-added functions that leverage Xen, 24x7 worldwide support and all the clout needed to serve true enterprise customers and use cases. As we go to market with XenServer, we also collaborate closely with Microsoft, who will deliver Hyper-V to market in the summer. Our intention is to leverage both footprints to deliver powerful virtualization-optimized solutions to customers for data-center automation, virtual desktop infrastructure and application delivery. Citrix products XenServer, XenDesktop and XenApp, all contain virtualization as a core feature set (server, desktop and application, respectively).

Until 2008, VMware was the only choice, their hypervisor cost thousands of dollars, and they had the market to themselves. In 2008, Citrix and Microsoft bring customers an open architecture, a price/performance and feature set that is difficult to beat, and a powerful channel that can deliver customers a real choice for their virtual infrastructure for the first time. Importantly, our products will all also add value to VMware virtualized infrastructure, to fully support customers that have purchased VMware enterprise licenses.

It will be a very exciting year!

Virtualization Journal: What’s the risk of Virtualization becoming just another buzzword used in the attempt to get organizations to “sign a check”?
Crosby: The word is already over-used, and every vendor wants a “virtualization spin” on their product. Customers are smart though, and I think they understand that first and foremost they need to pick a hypervisor. There’s VMware, or the compatible pair of Xen and Microsoft Hyper-V. Second, there’s virtualized storage. We believe that there will be tremendous innovation in the storage area to optimize the management of storage for virtual machines in hardware, as opposed to doing this in software on the host, as VMware does. Third, there are dynamic infrastructure software services that:
  • Provision virtual machines – we offer dynamic provisioning on XenServer, Hyper-V, VMware and (crucially) on bare metal
  • Optimize performance of virtual machines on the infrastructure through workflow based automated provisioning
  • Protect virtual machines by offering them high-availability or even fault-tolerance
  • Manage VM lifecycle
This area of virtualization management is an area rich with innovation that can exploit XenServer or Hyper-V to deliver powerful new choices to customers. There is a lot of hot air in vendors’ pitches right now, and customers should really look under the covers to understand the ROI before they purchase new tools.


Virtualization Journal:
The Xen AB currently has members from Citrix, IBM, Intel, HP, Novell, Red Hat and Sun – is it likely that further companies would get onto the Advisory Board?
Crosby: The AB is drawn from the top contributors to Xen, and includes the first key vendors that delivered the Xen hypervisor to market. As new vendors join the ranks of those that ship Xen to customers, I expect the AB will grow, since those vendors have a strategic interest in Xen’s continued prominence.

Virtualization Journal:
You’ve been hailed as one of the top 25 CTOs in the industry: what duty or duties of care do you feel such acclaim brings with it for a top software executive in the first decade of the twenty-first century? Is the ‘IT greening’ aspect of virtualization important to you, for example?
Crosby: I am incredibly fortunate to be in a position that allows me to advocate a technology and community that I find inspiring. The community builds the world’s best hypervisor using a development model based on collaborative contribution without charge. Xen is great because its community makes it great and makes it freely available.

The impact of Xen in a global sense, beyond vendors and products, has been to slash the price of virtualization, making it a free feature set available to everyone. Server consolidation should be free, because it makes a powerful contribution to the greening of IT. To the Xen community goes the credit for a powerful, open, collaborative development spirit that will have a tremendous worldwide impact on power consumption and therefore global warming.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Cloud Expo Latest Stories
The emergence of cloud computing and Big Data warrants a greater role for the PMO to successfully manage enterprise transformation driven by these powerful trends. As the adoption of cloud-based services continues to grow, a governance model is needed to orchestrate enterprise cloud implementations and harness the power of Big Data analytics. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mahesh Singh, President of BigData, Inc., to discuss how the Enterprise PMO takes center stage not only in developing the appropriate governance model but also in collaborating with key stakeholders to ensure a successful transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TechXtend (formerly Programmer’s Paradise), a leading value-added provider of server and storage virtualization, and r-evolution will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechXtend (formerly Programmer’s Paradise) is a leading value-added provider of software, systems and solutions for corporations, government organizations, and academic institutions across the United States and Canada. TechXtend is the Exclusive Reseller in the United States for r-evolution
The consumption economy is here and so are cloud applications and solutions that offer more than subscription and flat fee models and at the same time are available on a pure consumption model, which not only reduces IT spend but also lowers infrastructure costs, and offers ease of use and availability. In their session at 15th Cloud Expo, Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, and Ian Khan, Global Strategic Positioning & Brand Manager at Solgenia, will discuss this shifting dynamic with an example of a top European Telco provider. Find out how they are leveraging the power of acloud-based consumption model services to offer more value to the mass market and enable a new revenue model that embraces the true meaning of the Third Industrial Revolution.
Every healthy ecosystem is diverse. This is especially true in cloud ecosystems, where portability and interoperability are more important than old enterprise models of proprietary ownership. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Baker, Server Product Manager at Canonical/Ubuntu, will discuss how single vendors used to take the lead in creating and delivering technology, but in a cloud economy, where users want tools of their preference, when and where they need them, it makes no sense.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudian is a Foster City, Calif.-based software company specializing in cloud storage. Cloudian HyperStore® is an S3-compatible cloud object storage platform that enables service providers and enterprises to build reliable, affordable and scalable hybrid cloud storage solutions. Cloudian actively partners with leading cloud computing environments including Amazon Web Services, Citrix Cloud Platform, Apache CloudStack, OpenStack and the vast ecosystem of S3 compatible tools and applications. Cloudian's customers include Vodafone, Nextel, NTT, Nifty, and LunaCloud. The company has additional offices in China and Japan.
In today's application economy, enterprise organizations realize that it's their applications that are the heart and soul of their business. If their application users have a bad experience, their revenue and reputation are at stake. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anand Akela, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Application Performance Management at CA Technologies, will discuss how a user-centric Application Performance Management solution can help inspire your users with every application transaction.
Come learn about what you need to consider when moving your data to the cloud. In her session at 15th Cloud Expo, Skyla Loomis, a Program Director of Cloudant Development at Cloudant, will discuss the security, performance, and operational implications of keeping your data on premise, moving it to the cloud, or taking a hybrid approach. She will use real customer examples to illustrate the tradeoffs, key decision points, and how to be successful with a cloud or hybrid cloud solution.
Cloud computing started a technology revolution; now DevOps is driving that revolution forward. By enabling new approaches to service delivery, cloud and DevOps together are delivering even greater speed, agility, and efficiency. No wonder leading innovators are adopting DevOps and cloud together! In his session at DevOps Summit, Andi Mann, Vice President of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies, will explore the synergies in these two approaches, with practical tips, techniques, research data, war stories, case studies, and recommendations.
The 16th International Cloud Expo announces that its Call for Papers is now open. 16th International Cloud Expo, to be held June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
14th International Cloud Expo, held on June 10–12, 2014 at the Javits Center in New York City, featured three content-packed days with a rich array of sessions about the business and technical value of cloud computing, Internet of Things, Big Data, and DevOps led by exceptional speakers from every sector of the IT ecosystem. The Cloud Expo series is the fastest-growing Enterprise IT event in the past 10 years, devoted to every aspect of delivering massively scalable enterprise IT as a service.
Hardware will never be more valuable than on the day it hits your loading dock. Each day new servers are not deployed to production the business is losing money. While Moore’s Law is typically cited to explain the exponential density growth of chips, a critical consequence of this is rapid depreciation of servers. The hardware for clustered systems (e.g., Hadoop, OpenStack) tends to be significant capital expenses. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mason Katz, CTO and co-founder of StackIQ, to discuss how infrastructure teams should be aware of the capitalization and depreciation model of these expenses to fully understand when and where automation is critical.
Over the last few years the healthcare ecosystem has revolved around innovations in Electronic Health Record (HER) based systems. This evolution has helped us achieve much desired interoperability. Now the focus is shifting to other equally important aspects – scalability and performance. While applying cloud computing environments to the EHR systems, a special consideration needs to be given to the cloud enablement of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), i.e., the largest single medical system in the United States.
In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Hinkle, Senior Director, Open Source Solutions at Citrix Systems Inc., will provide overview of the open source software that can be used to deploy and manage a cloud computing environment. He will include information on storage, networking(e.g., OpenDaylight) and compute virtualization (Xen, KVM, LXC) and the orchestration(Apache CloudStack, OpenStack) of the three to build their own cloud services. Speaker Bio: Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Source Solutions, at Citrix Systems Inc. He joined Citrix as a result of their July 2011 acquisition of Cloud.com where he was their Vice President of Community. He is currently responsible for Citrix open source efforts around the open source cloud computing platform, Apache CloudStack and the Xen Hypervisor. Previously he was the VP of Community at Zenoss Inc., a producer of the open source application, server, and network management software, where he grew the Zenoss Core project to over 10...
Most of today’s hardware manufacturers are building servers with at least one SATA Port, but not every systems engineer utilizes them. This is considered a loss in the game of maximizing potential storage space in a fixed unit. The SATADOM Series was created by Innodisk as a high-performance, small form factor boot drive with low power consumption to be plugged into the unused SATA port on your server board as an alternative to hard drive or USB boot-up. Built for 1U systems, this powerful device is smaller than a one dollar coin, and frees up otherwise dead space on your motherboard. To meet the requirements of tomorrow’s cloud hardware, Innodisk invested internal R&D resources to develop our SATA III series of products. The SATA III SATADOM boasts 500/180MBs R/W Speeds respectively, or double R/W Speed of SATA II products.
As more applications and services move "to the cloud" (public or on-premise) cloud environments are increasingly adopting and building out traditional enterprise features. This in turn is enabling and encouraging cloud adoption from enterprise users. In many ways the definition is blurring as features like continuous operation, geo-distribution or on-demand capacity become the norm. NuoDB is involved in both building enterprise software and using enterprise cloud capabilities. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Proctor, CTO at NuoDB, Inc., will discuss the experiences from building, deploying and using enterprise services and suggest some ways to approach moving enterprise applications into a cloud model.