OEM alliance threatens VMware’s virtual fiefdom

23 Jul 2007

An OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturing) alliance between open source virtualisation player XenSource and security giant Symantec could present a strategic threat to VMWare’s dominance in the fast growing enterprise IT virtualisation realm.

VMWare, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of EMC and is in the process of creating 390 jobs in Cork, is the undisputed leader in the virtual machine market for x86 and x86-64 virtualised server environments, regarded as the fastest growing segment of the IT industry today.

However, a company that came into being only in January of this year and has already signed up 500 enterprise customers in that time, is building an independent software vendor (ISV) ecosystem that threatens VMware’s dominance.

XenSource plays the dual role of leading the open source Xen community, while simultaneously selling value-added enterprise solutions based on Xen technology. The company was founded and is currently run by the original Xen development team.

Xen software runs on a host operating system and allows several guest operating systems to be run on top of the host on the same hardware.

Under the new alliance with Symantec the company’s enterprise platform, XenEnterprise, will allow businesses to leverage trusted storage management technology from the security leader while at the same time confidently deploy virtualised systems for mission-critical applications.

XenSource’s chief technology officer Simon Crosby told siliconrepublic.com that this will be the first of a number of OEM agreements with IT leaders that will follow.

“For us, the alliance with Symantec is a profound statement at a strategic level,” Crosby explained. “For our enterprise customers it brings the right level of dynamism to storage and servers.

“The advantage for ISVs is their customers don’t have to rebuild their systems just to enjoy a virtualised IT environment. Customers of Symantec who buy Symantec’s suite don’t have to rebuild anything, the virualisation is already built-in. The news today is about developing an ISV ecosystem, not driving a replacement strategy.

“Enterprise customers can rely on the world’s best security without rebuilding their systems. They can leverage their existing infrastructure and this brings XenSource to the highest levels of virtualisation.

“Symantec will also certify their back-up product suite to handle XenSource technology,” Crosby added.

He explained that XenSource’s customer base is doubling quarter on quarter and so far 500 enterprise customers have signed up since January. “It took VMware three years to do that,” he added.

Crosby’s colleague John Glendenning, VP of international sales at XenSource added: “We’re eating their breakfast, but we’ll get to lunch at some point soon.

“As a result of this agreement with Symantec we are established as a credible alternative to VMware.

“The key thing about XenSource is that it is an open source technology. The blindfolds are off every layer of the architecture,” Glendenning added, explaining that the company’s enterprise technology was developed with contributions from Intel, Citrix, HP, IBM, AMD and Microsoft.

“Microsoft was one of the first big players to recognise XenSource’s importance to the market. While the company is new, Xen technology has been around for some time now and is considered quite mature. Xen technology has been proven a long time ago.”

Glendenning added that while XenSource has signed up 500 paying enterprise customers, more than 100,000 people have downloaded the company’s Zen Express ‘bare metal’ free download.

By John Kennedy