This all started with the Novell-SuSE Linux and Microsoft deal a few years ago. Now, with Open Source virtualization coming on strong with many of the major players jumping on board, the lines are beginning to blur.
The blurred lines start as many of the newer Virtualization companies are absorbed into main stream players. Take the XenSource deal with Citrix for instance. With the acquisition of XenSource Citrix is now able to setup it’s first XenServer and XenDesktop. Citrix touts that both of these are Microsoft license free. Really? TUp to a point maybe. They are also both optimized to run on Windows XP and Vista meaning license fees for Microsoft. This is where the lines start to blur. Citrix now has an Open Source product that to use efficiently is going to force you to purchase a Microsoft license for the application to perform optimally.
Take a close look Microsoft’s Hyper-V product. This product, which they were originally selling for $28, is base on XenSource. They are now giving it away for free. Microsoft give an enterprise technology away? That’s unheard of. The catch is that Microsoft and Citrix have agreed to work together to make sure that the Citrix applications will work smoothly with Microsoft applications. The answer to the question of why give it away is of course VMWare. They are the only logical target in something like this.
But wait you say, VMWare gives it;s products away as well. Not the high end products that contain the same functions as the Open Source products. They generate their revenues from selling high end virtualization software and management systems. And now that Microsoft is giving these away with Hyper-V, and if you don’t want that you can use Citirix’s XenDesktop and XenServer, who would pay for the high end VMWare products. Most likely no one.
As you can see from the above, the lines between Open Source and Proprietary (read Microsoft) are beginning to blur. Microsoft is offering a product for free that is built on XenSource. Citrix is offering the same core product to enhance it’s remote desktop and server offerings and doing so with the sales pitch of it doesn’t required a Microsoft license.
You can download the Citrix XenServer Express Edition for free. From a memory, CPU and number of guest machines you will get the same specs as the higher priced editions. What you won’t get are things like Resource pools, XenMotion live migration, Shared IP-based storage, Resource QoS Controls and
Dynamic provisioning of virtual and physical servers.
This doesn’t even get into the competition that is presented by Sun, Virtual Iron and Red Hat. However these are strictly proprietary companies that are starting to openly use Open Source in such a way that they are able to sell it as a licensed product. It remains Open Source because the code is available for the core product as is a download to use the core product.