Welcome!

API Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, David Paquette, William Schmarzo, Rishi Bhargava, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog

Containers Expo Blog: 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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Adobe has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Adobe is changing the world though digital experiences. Adobe helps customers develop and deliver high-impact experiences that differentiate brands, build loyalty, and drive revenue across every screen, including smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs. Adobe content solutions are used daily by millions of co...
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business in 2016. However, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will drill down to the components in this fra...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices 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 opportuni...