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HP stuffs XenServer into ProLiants

iThe iVirtualization iIdentity

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Er, before we get to HP's rather unfortunate "iVirtualization" roll out, we'll note that HP plans to offer Citrix's XenServer software as a pre-installed option across the ProLiant server line.

Starting March 31, customers can purchase servers with XenServer burned into memory - or rather burned into a USB stick that plugs into a ProLiant motherboard. Everyone has seen this move coming ever since most of the major server vendors announced similar deals last month with VMware around ESX Server 3i. Why just do VMware when you can do Citrix as well and Microsoft (one day)?

We'll confess to some measure of fascination when talk of embedded hypervisors heated up last year. Now, however, the concept seems less wondrous and more basic. Customers save a bit on installation and boot times with built-in virtualization software, and they're given an easy way to upgrade from the basic embedded code to full-blown packages from the likes of VMware and Citrix.

HP and Citrix, however, seem to claim magic that the other vendors don't offer.

For example, customers will see "Citrix XenServer HP Select Edition" bundled on the boxes. The "Select Edition" part is what should inspire awe. It means that customers using the Insight Control management package can fiddle with virtual machines via a new graphical console. "With this new solution, new and existing HP and Citrix customers will be able to deploy and manage a virtualized environment faster and easier than ever before," the vendors said. See, we told you it was Select.

In addition, we're told that:

Citrix XenServer HP products are the only integrated virtualization solutions to feature pre-integrated HP management agent technology. As a result, customers can use the same familiar management systems for virtualization that they have been using on their existing HP ProLiant servers, such as HP Systems Insight Manager (SIM). HP SIM provides a consolidated view of system hardware health, configuration, performance and status information for individual HP servers. In addition, HP Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) now supports Citrix XenServer and can be used to perform advanced management of virtual machines.

Now, on to "iVirtualization."

You know the folks in HP's marketing department were proud of themselves for this one. They've managed to stick that painful and well-hyped "i" in front of the equally painful and well-hyped term "virtualization". This is strategy boutique synergy as its finest.

Apparently, HP will now offer "iVirtualization" with VMware, Citrix and eventually Microsoft. So, you get - HP ProLiant iVirtualization powered by VMware ESX 3i.

What does this mean? As far as we can tell, iVirtualization means that HP will sell you virtualization software from partners.

In addition, HP will offer a ProLiant Virtual Console, which lets you create and manage virtual machines along with providing some iLO (Integrated Lights Out) functions, although HP was pretty damn vague on that last bit.

Proving its iVirtualization desperation, HP bragged that the Virtual Console also provides "a single 'hot-key' to quickly toggle between each virtual machine console." Hot-key toggling? Come on, guys.

Oddly, HP already made a big virtualization management splash earlier this week with the revelation of HP Insight Dynamics - VSE, which can handle both physical and virtual machine jobs. HP reckons that the ProLiant Virtual Console will complement the HP Insight Dynamics - VSE package.

Anyone else confused about what you're meant to pick for what jobs?

Quite frankly, HP and Citrix do seem rather close as of today's announcement. HP spilled far more marketing ink on the XenServer ties than it did on last month's ESX 3i announcement. And, if the marketing materials are to be believed, HP has added in very thorough support for XenServer throughout its management portfolio. ®

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