Citrix Gets XenSource, But What About The Xen Source?

There are some things that half a billion dollars doesn't buy.

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How much does $500 million actually buy? Though it may be enough for Citrix to buy XenSource, the lead commercial entity behind the Xen open source hypervisor, it doesn't actually buy the community behind it. Or does it?

After a $500 million dollar announcement, you'd expect some chatter. But in the open source world of the Xen virtualization hypervisor today is just another day. Vendors in the open source Xen ecosystem such as AMD, Intel and Novell don't expect anything to change much.

The half a billion dollar move by Citrix may well serve to make Xen even more open than it was before.

Virtual Iron is one such Xen ecosystem player that expects no impact to its operations as a result of Citrix's acquisition of XenSource. Among its offerings, Virtual Iron offers its own management tools and platform on top of the Xen hypervisor.

XenSource has a similar type of approach, offering its XenEnterprise products, which provide functionality and management features beyond the core open source Xen hypervisor.

"With the acquisition, it appears that the Xen open source project will become more independent and autonomous with expanded governance by other community members," Tim Walsh, director of Product Marketing at Virtual Iron, told

"This should bring additional transparency to the project, which has been a major source of criticism for XenSource and how it has managed the project and controlled the trademarks."

Walsh argued that the acquisition will now invite more active participation in the project from the community. As part of the acquisition-day press conference, XenSource CEO Peter Levine noted that a new foundation would be created to govern and manage the open source project.

"We believe the XenSource acquisition may in fact move the project into a more traditional open source project and finally realize the full potential of its vision," Walsh said.

Xen project leader and founder Ian Pratt noted that there are over 20 major corporations, as well as plenty more individuals and smaller companies, that regularly contribute to the Xen open source software project. Pratt also noted that successful open source communities require transparency and good technical leadership.

"I'm proud of the Xen team's record in delivering this impartial leadership, and grateful that XenSource management has never pressured developers to do otherwise," Pratt told

With the creation of the Xen Foundation, the importance of community leadership independence will continue, even with Citrix at the helm of XenSource.

"Creating the Xen Foundation allows for even greater transparency and leadership independence than we have today, and will provide an organized forum for enabling the community of vendors and users that are building Xen into their businesses to influence the project roadmap," Pratt said.

Pratt is expected to serve as the first chairman of the Xen Foundation.

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