For some IT organizations, Citrix Systems Inc.'s XenServer is a cost-effective alternative to VMware vSphere for virtualization, and it includes many features not yet present in Microsoft Hyper-V R2. Many of the core XenServer features are available for free, and higher-end features add desirable functionality. Read on to learn more about how Citrix prices and licenses XenServer, Essentials for XenServer, and its support offerings.
At its core, Citrix XenServer includes the Xen hypervisor, integrated management via XenCenter, live migration with XenMotion, and free physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-virtual (V2V) conversion tools. The product is available for a free download, with no time limits or restrictions on the size and number of virtual machines that can be run. Citrix asks only that users re-validate XenServer once a year by resupplying their contact information.
Citrix is currently shipping XenServer version 5.5, which has been available since June 2009. It is based on the 64-bit open-source Xen 3.3 hypervisor, which is available at http://www.xen.org.
Citrix Essentials for XenServer
Once an IT organization downloads and installs XenServer, it can opt to purchase Citrix Essentials for XenServer in either Enterprise or Platinum editions. Both Essentials Enterprise Edition and Essentials Platinum Edition are licensed per server, regardless of the number of processors or processor cores.
Essentials Enterprise builds on the base XenServer package with storage integration via Citrix StorageLink, high availability and workload balancing capabilities akin to VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler. Pricing for Essentials Enterprise is $2,500 per server.
Essentials Platinum Edition builds on Essentials Enterprise with the addition of lab and stage management capabilities, plus Citrix Provisioning Server, for provisioning desktops and applications from a single image. Essentials Platinum also includes Workflow Studio, process automation software based on Windows PowerShell and Windows Workflow. Essentials Platinum Edition is priced at $5,000 per server. Citrix also offers a version of Essentials for Microsoft Hyper-V with similar pricing and licensing options.
Citrix XenServer support options
Unlike VMware, Citrix does not offer unlimited annual support; instead support is provided per incident and is purchased in packs. Support is not required to deploy XenServer or Essentials.
Citrix offers two levels of support: Preferred and Preferred Extend. Preferred support is available eight hours a day, five days a week. Preferred Extend support is available 24/7. Five incidents of Preferred support lists for $1,500 per year. A five pack of Preferred Extend support is $3,000. Twenty-five packs list for $7,500 and $15,000 per year, respectively.
Going forward, Citrix has indicated that it may add an unlimited annual support option for customers that desire it but made no further details available.
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