This is old news—well about a month ago—but is very exciting… Citrix and Microsoft have agreed to standardize on the Microsoft Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format. In short, this puts Microsoft and Citrix in a great position to compete with VMware. In my opinion—this will lead to better products from Citrix, Microsoft and VMware. Competition spurs research and development and will hopefully keep new, stable features coming from all parties involved. Interestingly, this announcement was made during VMware’s own conference—VMworld!
Companies standardize on virtualization format, making it easier for customers to deliver desktops and applications to end users.
SAN FRANCISCO — Sept. 11, 2007 — Today at VMworld 2007, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq “MSFT”) and Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq “CTXS”) announced that they have strengthened their longtime integration alliance in the desktop and application delivery market by standardizing on the Microsoft® Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format as a common runtime environment for both virtualized operating systems and applications. This collaboration will result in future versions of Citrix’s Desktop Server and virtual application solutions adopting the Microsoft VHD format. At the same time, Microsoft plans to adapt a future version of Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization for both the desktop and Terminal Services to the VHD format. Microsoft and Citrix will also collaborate on emerging virtualization technologies and virtual infrastructure management tools to help ensure interoperability and simplified administration for end users.
IT professionals within large organizations have an increasing need to maintain control over desktop environments. The cost of deploying and administering PCs — sometimes tens of thousands of PCs — across an enterprise can be significant, especially without the proper infrastructure in place to aid in the automation of these tasks. Add to that the growing complexity created by more mobile and temporary workers, and new data security and compliance requirements.
For more than 18 years, Microsoft and Citrix have offered solutions that improve the delivery of Windows® applications and desktops using Citrix Presentation Server running on Microsoft Terminal Services. More recently, the two companies have collaborated on solutions designed to simplify branch office computing using Citrix WANScaler running on the Microsoft Windows Server® 2003 and Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration Server platforms. Today’s news extends that alliance, making it easier for mutual customers and partners to design virtualization directly into their solutions, using their existing investment and providing a road map for the future.
“Customers want options for making desktop computing and applications more broadly accessible. Their needs vary widely depending upon bandwidth, user location, and application type and information sensitivity,” said Mike Neil, general manager of virtualization strategy at Microsoft. “Microsoft offers a comprehensive set of virtualization products at the server, desktop and application levels, and the management platform for both physical and virtual environments, so customers can deliver computing in a much more flexible, dynamic and responsive manner. By standardizing on a common virtualization format for both operating systems and applications, Microsoft and Citrix will enable customers to run interoperable solutions that can be centrally managed using our technologies.”
Microsoft offers a comprehensive suite of virtualization products. Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization, Virtual PC 2007 and System Center Configuration Manager 2007 for application deployment simplify application compatibility and deployment on desktops, while Terminal Services, Virtual Server 2005 R2 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 help reduce the total cost of ownership and enables a more dynamic environment in the datacenter. By combining server, application and Terminal Services presentation virtualization, customers can also virtualize desktops and applications on servers with the combination of Windows Vista® Enterprise Centralized Desktop and the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.
Citrix offers a comprehensive end-to-end infrastructure for delivering any application, to any user, over any network. This infrastructure includes solutions such as Citrix Presentation Server for delivering Windows applications, Citrix Desktop Server for delivering Windows desktops, Citrix NetScaler for delivering Web applications and Citrix WANScaler for accelerating the delivery of all applications to branch office users. Citrix has also announced its intention to acquire virtual infrastructure vendor XenSource Inc., extending its capabilities into both server and desktop virtualization. Citrix uses the VHD format today and plans to extend its support in the future to include operating system streaming to both servers and desktops. XenSource also supports VHD as its native runtime format for virtual machines.
“Standardization is critical to mainstream adoption of virtualized solutions,” said Wes Wasson, vice president, worldwide marketing, Citrix Systems. “Citrix envisions a world where computing resources can be dynamically combined and reassembled on the fly to ensure fast, secure, efficient delivery of applications and desktops to end users. Our application and desktop delivery solutions incorporate presentation and application virtualization today based on the Windows platform. Agreement on VHD is a necessary first step we are taking to ensure IT can rapidly adopt the full benefits of virtualization. Today’s announcement signals our continuing, joint commitment with Microsoft to provide virtualization solutions to create and manage dynamic IT environments well into the future.”
Microsoft’s VHD format has been available under its Open Specification Promise since October 2006. The Open Specification Promise is a promise from Microsoft to every individual and organization in the world to make use of this patented technology for free, now and forever when implementing specified open standards. The VHD format, which has been available as a commercial license since May 2005, captures the virtual machine operating system and the application stack in a single file. With the VHD format as a freely available specification, Microsoft is contributing to the continued expansion of virtualization by fostering interoperability among commercial software solutions, including open source.
More information can also be found in a PressPass Q&A with Larry Orecklin, general manager of System Center Marketing at Microsoft, at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2007/sep07/09-11virtualization.mspx.