(The Virtualization Comparison  has been updated with XenServer 6.2 and associated content)
See the updated articles https://www.whatmatrix.com/portal/xenserver-7-3-whats-new-stays-free/ and 
https://www.whatmatrix.com/portal/2017-what-virtualization-to-pick-ms-hyper-v-2016-or-vmware-vsphere-6x-or/
 

I often hear “XenServer is on it’s way out”, dead even … and looking at the 6.2 release seems to support this theory. Rather than a barrage of new features, the biggest part of the release notes it taken up by “Retired” and “Deprecated” features. Combine that with Citrix’s announcement to move XenServer (including XenCenter) to a fully open source model with the 6.2 release, essentially making all features available for free, and you could get the impression that Citrix has “given up” on XenServer.

 

And it wouldn’t come as a massive surprise given the increasing pressure from its open source cousin KVM, although many would argue that despite enormous interest and industry support, enterprise adoption of KVM-based technologies hasn’t necessarily been overwhelming until now.
Add Citrix’s symbiotic (but competitively challenging) relationship with Microsoft, adding pressure to facilitate the spearheading Hyper-V in this new world of multi-hypervisor environments and the case seems closed.

So is XenServer really at a dead-end … and Citrix in trouble?

Personally I think far from it. As a matter of fact I think Citrix made a smart move and looking behind the scenes supports this picture.
Companies like VMware currently seem to struggle with the diversification of their portfolio, spreading resource thin by the demand to constantly open new revenue streams, expanding into new areas (software defined networking, analytics, end user computing, PaaS, hybrid and public services etc.), trying to develop functionality “in-house” that is already covered by a thriving 3rd party ecosystem, creating new competitive battle fronts on a daily basis – all while trying to maintain the stronghold of the fundamental hypervisor management.

Citrix on the other hand seems to have found its “niche” and drives this with focus.

XenServer emerges as streamlined hypervisor for cloud services and desktop virtualization

In my view XenServer emerges as streamlined and somewhat re-positioned hyerpvisor to facilitate primarily two (connected) target use cases as a) hypervisor to enable mobility and desktop virtualization and b) “commodity” hypervisor for its CloudPlatform suite.
Combine the two to give Citrix a future end-to-end capability to deliver hybrid cloud services around its core-expertise and recent focus areas: enterprise mobility (XenMobile), application and desktop delivery (e.g. XenDesktop 7), collaboration (GoToxxx, ShareFile etc.) and the optimization of networking for those services (Netscaler / CloudBridge). What XenServer quite frankly isn’t trying to be anymore, is a contender for the increasingly commoditized (general purpose) Enterprise hypervisor market.

Of course both Microsoft and VMware are after the same opportunities. While VMware successfully leverages its install base and the maturity of its hypervisor/cloud platform, Microsoft is in a great position to promote Hyper-V as “free” hypervisor in the (still) primarily Windows-based End User Computing segment (alongside with  its much improved Remote Desktop Services). But again, for both companies this particular combination is just one out of a possible dozens of focus areas they need to cover.

Citrix removed and deprecated what some might consider critical (Enterprise) capabilities

Yes, Citrix removed and deprecated what some might consider critical (Enterprise) capabilities like workload balancing, integrated vm backup, P2V capability, (deprecated) SCVMM support, Storage Link and the distributed virtual switch). But look closer and you see that Citrix is not abandoning but “offloading” this functionality, actively promoting 3rd parties to provide this functionality instead (SDN partners, VMTurbo, PlateSpin etc.). In addition it aims to provide the automation functionality through its CloudPlatform management layer (rather than the base virtualization management layer).

Clever? A bold move, not without risk but I believe yes.

But creating an extended collaborative development environment by making the Xen Platform an official Linux Foundation project (that has proven to be successful), encourage proliferation and adoption by making XenServer 6.2 available for free while maintaining a commercial version for the risk-averse clientele, offloading development of functionality to 3rd party or providing it with its own higher layer management stack – all while increasing your ability to focus development on your core strategic areas for the rapidly emerging Service Provider market …

I’ll let you be the judge …

So what’s changed with XenServer 6.2 (summary, [block]15[/block]):

Licensing:

  • XenServer 6.2 available as free open source virtualization platform, including XenCenter and features previously only available with fee-based offerings
  • Single comercial edition of XenServer 6.2 – replacing the previous XenServer Free, Advanced, Enterprise, and Platinum editions – providing (over the free version)
    • Citrix Premier 24×7 worldwide support
    • Commercially packaged and certified product
    • Simplified patching and updating via XenCenter
    • Indemnification and license protection
    • Citrix knowledgebase & My Account Portal
  •  Socket-based licensing

Scalability:
(While scalability improvements with other hypervisors have recently been received with less excitement in the industry, XenServer really had to catch up to remain competitive).

  • Reduction in the amount of traffic between a VM and the Control Domain (Dom0).
  • Automatic scaling of Dom0 memory and vCPUs based on physical memory and CPU capacity on the host.

resulting in:

  • ‘VMs per host’ increase to 500 vms (Windows) and 650 (Linux) – from the previous limit of 150 VMs!

Monitoring:

  • The XenServer 6.1.0 Performance and Monitoring Supplemental Pack is now fully integrated and extended for XenServer 6.2. (providing detailed monitoring of performance metrics, including CPU, memory, disk, network, C-state/P-state information, and storage. New system alerts can be seen in XenCenter and XenDesktop Director and optionally sent by e-mail)

Clone on boot:

  • This feature supports Machine Creation Services (MCS) which is shipped as part of XenDesktop. Clone on boot allows rapid deployment of hundreds of transient desktop images from a single source, with the images being automatically destroyed and their disk space freed on exit.

Retired Features (not available anymore in XenServer 6.2):

  • Workload Balancing and associated functionality (e.g. power-consumption based consolidation)
  • XenServer plug-in for Microsoft’s System Center Operations Manager
  • Virtual Machine Protection and Recovery (VMPR)
  • Web Self Service
  • XenConvert (P2V)

Depricated Features (no further development and removal in future release):

  • Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) support
  • Integrated StorageLink (iSL)
  • Distributed Virtual Switch (vSwitch) Controller (DVSC). The Open vSwitch remains fully supported and developed

 

### Archived Article – thanks to Andreas Groth – WhatMatrix Community Affiliate (originally published on Virtualizationmatrix.com) ###

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