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XenSource embeds Symantec storage software

Server virtualization firm XenSource embeds Symantec's storage management software into its hypervisor, gaining an important strategic and technical leg up on VMware.

Open source server virtualization company XenSource Inc. will OEM Symantec Corp.'s Storage Foundation Suite, gaining an important strategic and technical boost against virtualization giant, VMware Inc.

Starting this fall, XenSource XenEnterprise users will get data storage management capabilities, including volume management, dynamic multipathing and point-in-time copies from Symantec's Storage Foundation Suite, embedded into the XenEnterprise hypervisor at no extra cost.

"Until now, we've come at VMware from below with a basic Linux and Windows offering," said John Bara, vice president of marketing at XenSource. "This deal gives us enterprise-class data center features that bring us closer to them."

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More specifically, XenEnterprise embeds Symantec's Veritas Volume Manager (VxVM), a host-based tool that provides a single, logical volume management layer over physical disk drives across heterogeneous storage arrays. It will be centrally managed by XenCenter. VxVM allows users to failover across different paths to LUNs on storage arrays from different vendors, a feature not available yet from VMware's Virtual Machine File System (VMFS).

"Veritas spent a lot of time certifying across every piece of Fibre Channel gear on the market … By embedding their product, we are able to leapfrog this certification hurdle saving resources and time," said Ramana Jonnala, vice president of engineering at XenSource. He added that VxVM has been on the market for 10 years and has a huge installed base of customers.

On that point, Mark Bowker, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said XenSource will indeed be able to take advantage of all the existing storage in place. However, he noted that many companies looking at server virtualization are getting into networked storage for the first time. "People are looking at infrastructure differently now, so this might not be as big of an advantage as it seems."

XenSource has relocated several engineers to Symantec's labs who will work permanently on joint offerings, including XenEnterprise HighAvailability, for failover of virtual machines and certification on Veritas NetBackup. No timeline was given for these offerings. The companies have set up a joint help desk to simplify customer support.

"This is a big strategic move and gives significant new credibility to XenSource," according to James Staten, principal analyst at Forrester Research. "For Symantec, it's a counter move to the EMC VMware juggernaut and a move the industry has been waiting for," he said. Furthermore, he sees the announcement as a "first step" in a tighter relationship between the two companies. Staten predicted an OEM deal going the other way at some point, under which NetBackup and other Veritas products could be deeply integrated with XenEnterprise beyond basic certification.

Still, he said XenSource has a long way to go to catch VMware, which is believed to have anywhere from 50% to 75% of the market, depending on which reports you believe. "It doesn't put XenSource on an equal footing with VMware by any means, but it lends them credibility and points them in the right direction," Staten said.

XenSource claims to have 600 customers, although was unable to provide any that we could talk with by press time.

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