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Virtualization: Blog Post

Why Microsoft Should Finally Buy Citrix

I’ve written a good bit here about the various ways Microsoft and Citrix overlap in the hypervisor space

DISCLAIMER: This is long and the opinions are mine.

I’ve written a good bit here about the various ways Microsoft and Citrix overlap in the hypervisor space, ranging from topics like shared code base through competition for the desktop space. To me, these two players have always been the underdogs battling for the right to go head-to-head against VMware in the main enterprise (and now cloud) virtual data center event. I’ve long said here that I think Microsoft is in the best position to make that move, but to be honest, Citrix currently has better technology. In other words, Microsoft has a better strategic play, Citrix a better tactical play. The announcements that came of out Synergy last week prove that. Citrix knows what it’s doing and they know how to build virtualization products to compete with VMware.

As has been asked many times before, here and elsewhere: What would happen…what would be the benefit to the market…if Microsoft were to acquire Citrix and merge the best strategy and tactical solutions into one? The idea and rumor has been around for a while, so why am I revisiting it today? Since these rumors first started to really circulate in September of 2008 (around VMworld) there’s been very little advancement from the Microsoft camp on Hyper-V, and a tremendous amount of advancements from Citrix and the Xen products. We’re also seeing a few cases where the two have opted to work together. Case in point: the Essentials family for managing XenServer and Hyper-V VMs and storage. Citrix has made some excellent headway in the VDC with product announcements this year; that’s the real reason to take another look at this idea.For better or for worse, Microsoft and Citrix are already collaborating, both individually and to

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an extent togeter, to go after VMware. In the grand scheme of things why continue to do that on their own when they can do it together, mount one single offensive with one single goal, and bring enough technology to actually make a dent in VMware’s VDC footprint? Join forces and all that 2 against 1 stuff. Let’s look at a few categories where this makes sense, where Microsoft acquiring Citrix technology would go head to head against VMware and actually have a chance of winning:

  • Networking and Application Delivery: To me recent movement from Citrix in this space is the paramount camel’s straw/tipping point for why Microsoft should finally take the leap. Citrix’s application delivery product line, NetScaler, has been a good appliance-based product for Citrix. Not a market leader, but they’ve held their own against F5 and Cisco. They manage application delivery well enough. With the announcement last week of NetScaler VPX, their virtual appliance version of MPX, NetScaler has made the leap into software-based application delivery, ala Zeus. This is huge for the acquisition discussion. First of all it could bring networking and application delivery into Microsoft’s world, something they’ve avoided with Hyper-V to date. Customers use virtualization for applications and they need to deliver those applications outside their data center. Couple VPX with the new software switch Citrix announced to compete against Cisco’s Nexus 1000v and you have the critical missing pieces for application deliver via Hyper-V (as well as another angle for Microsoft to compete against Citrix). And then add in the Citrix desktop and access-related apps for the non-MS platforms, like the iPhone, and Microsoft makes a huge push owning the application delivery stack from the VDC to the client, any client.

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