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Symantec tools up with Xen for VMware assault

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Symantec Vision '08 Symantec is teaming up with Citrix to attack the server virtualization market. The storage management firm has stirred Citrix's Xen code into its Veritas suite in a new offering arriving later in 2008.

CEO John Thompson introduced Veritas Virtual Infrastructure (VVI) today during his opening keynote at the Symantec Vision conference at Las Vegas.

"It's the first solution that solves the problem of managing storage for highly dynamic x86 virtual server environment," he said.

John Thompson

VVI basically puts Citrix's XenServer hypervisor into the Symantec Storage Foundation software administration interface. That's the opposite of what we were told a year ago to expect from the Xen/Symantec alliance.

Last July, a pre-acquisition Xen said it was putting Symantec's storage management code into the hypervisor interface. That idea died a death. But Symantec was still keen to work Citrix to take a bite out of the VMware virtualization lead — and through it, Symantec's storage management rival, EMC.

Here's the angle: VVI will, Symantec's storage boss Rob Soderbery says, be preferred over VMware's Virtual Machine File System (VMFS) because customers can manage a virtual stack the exact same way they manage a physical stack. He said most large companies are more comfortable with block-based storage, something VMFS sorely lacks.

VVI allows direct control of block storage from a guest virtual server. Soderbery claims this will make companies more willing to transition into a virtual environment.

Features from the XenServer side of things include sharing boot images across multiple virtual servers and load balancing.

Despite giving Citrix a major nod over VMware, Thompson emphasized the company's supposed platform neutrality.

"Moving forward, as the virtualization market becomes more heterogeneous, we're committed to supporting a number of hypervisors — VMware, Citrix XenServer, and Microsoft Hyper-V," said Thompson.

Veritas Virtual Infrastructure is available this fall starting at $4,595 for a two-socket server. ®

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