Of all recent virtualization-related announcements, an announcement of Microsoft/Xen partnership is the most commented. Alessandro Perilli’s virtualization.info site posted an interesting comment and VMware’s reaction was immediate, too. Industry analyst Neil Macehiter provides insightful comments, as well. Let me join with few observations on my own:
· MS knows Xen. Xen was originally developed as a research project at Cambridge University, UK sponsored by Microsoft. Architecturally, the upcoming Microsoft hypervisor is very similar to Xen, which of course might be just a coincidence. With all of this in mind, it should not be a huge technical challenge for XenSource engineers to “enlighten” Linux to run on top of Microsoft Hypervisor when it makes its debut (which appears to be no earlier than 2008).
· The enemy of my enemy is my friend. It looks like the move by Microsoft with the help of
the enemy Xen is aimed to displace the enemy of the enemy VMware, at least at the lowest levels of virtualization stack. Now we’re told that the built-in paravirtualization-based Windows hypervisor will run Linux on Windows without sacrificing any performance.
Here is my conclusion:
· The funny thing is, all of this misses the point because the value of virtualization can only be fully realized with effective management tools, which will increasingly differentiate virtualization solutions. Meanwhile, Microsoft must enable Linux to run on Windows virtualization and has engaged XenSource to help. Microsoft wants people to believe if you use Windows-based virtualization, Linux will somehow work and XenSource will support it. It’s sort of like being at the starting gate when the race has already taken off.
· With this partnership, Xen loses its advantage as the only platform for running paravirtualized Linux. Now, why would channel partners invest in training their staff to sell and support Xen if they can just wait until Microsoft releases its hypervisor, which they will need to adopt anyway. Is Xen just desperate? Are they trying to get acquired by MS? No? Then, please, explain to me how Xen is going to make money if their core technology is free and their management tools are way behind VMware?
What is your opinion?