The Friday Interview: John Glendenning, Citrix

4 Apr 2008

Employing 80 people in Dublin, software player Citrix’s $607m acquisition of XenSource is a key part of its plan to become a $5bn-a-year IT giant. John Glendenning (pictured) is European server virtualisation vice-president at Citrix.

Despite all the talk about how virtualisation is set to transform business IT, only 6pc of servers worldwide use it. Is it too early to be so bullish?

It is still early days for virtualisation but this is changing rapidly. Around 9pc of servers currently shipping have virtualisation capabilities and this figure is growing.

How did Citrix end up paying $607m for an eight-month-old company?

XenSource was a start-up founded in January last year, but its origins go back to 2003. The company was building an independent software vendor (ISV) ecosystem that was threatening VMware’s dominance.

Just prior to the acquisition in August, we had signed up 500 enterprise customers in that time. By October, we reached 1,000 customers.

What does virtualisation promise businesses?

Instead of dedicated servers for accounts, email and web, businesses can virtually spread these responsibilities across a smaller number of servers.

What this means for chief information officers (CIOs) is better utilisation of their IT assets, as well as a means to reduce the impact of IT on the environment.

Are there downsides to virtualisation?

Some businesses which have rolled out virtualisation have seen their storage requirements increase five-fold. We believe the latest version of XenServer 4.1 resolves that issue.

You have signed a key product development deal with HP. What will this do for Citrix?

By jointly developing this with HP, we’ve raised the bar for virtualisation that goes beyond simply putting software on a server. This is also a major stamp of approval for Citrix because, following a similar deal with Dell late last year, it gives us access to companies which between them control 50pc of the world’s servers.

What fruits has the alliance with HP delivered so far?

We’ve created a technology which has an easy-to-use management console that seamlessly integrates with the same software HP uses to manage its servers.
This will make it faster and easier for businesses to deploy a virtualised environment.

Are similar deals with other major IT manufacturers in the pipeline?

The deals with Hewlett Packard and Dell wouldn’t be mutually exclusive. At the same time, I wouldn’t say we have 100pc of the market covered as server manufacturing requires a lot of testing.

Of course, we would love all major manufacturers to deliver XenServer in the same way and while we are in discussions with manufacturers, we aren’t making any additional announcements yet.

What impact will these deals make on the IT market?

The great news for the channel is that we are going to create fertile ground for it to deploy more complex IT environments and see virtualisation more broadly adopted across organisations.

By John Kennedy