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You read that title correctly; XenServer is free. Free as in advice--since I've never seen any of this free beer of which the Open Source Community speaks so freely. And, yes, this is breaking news. Citrix made XenServer free as of Feb 23, 2009 12:01am EST. This exciting announcement is part of a move by Citrix to open its flagship XenServer to further adoption by Cloud vendors, corporations and developers.

Oh, but that's not all. It gets better. In fact, Citrix gets a Gold Star. Yes, that's right, they've partnered with Microsoft.

This time, it might not be so bad a thing.

Citrix is partnering with Microsoft in that Citrix is fully supporting Hyper-V in their new Essentials Management Suite. Essentials will manage both XenServer virtual machines and Hyper-V virtual machines. What's so great about that? With Citrix's new Essentials, you're able to move workloads and virtual machines between XenServer and Hyper-V seamlessly.

The positive fallout from this announcement is tremendous. It will drive new business to Cloud vendors, it will create new Cloud vendor businesses, it will make converting a physical infrastructure to a virtual one a lot cheaper--try to the tune of $5,000+ per server.

Who will be hurt by this? If you are whispering "VMware" to yourself, you're right. I forsee an upcoming counter announcement from VMware this week--watch for it here. Microsoft won't be hurt significantly by a free XenServer because Microsoft shops will embrace Hyper-V regardless of the competition's price.

No, I don't think current VMware customers will jump ship but certainly new converts or those who've been pondering virtualization will go with XenServer.

I think this is a good thing for Citrix and Microsoft. It will boost Citrix's new management application direction and help Microsoft's foray into virtualization.

Ok, VMware, your turn.

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