latest beta of XenServer, v6 is now available for a free download. Citrix has made Xen simpler (please, we're resisting the jokes), trimming down the management infrastructure required to run advanced features such as StorageLink and Site Recovery. Xen's Workload Balancing feature is also available as a turnkey virtual appliance, making that easier to install and manage.Citrix announced today that the
The XenServer v6 is now based on the Xen 4.1 hypervisor, and Open vSwitch is the default networking stack too. This was the enhancement that included jumbo frames and distributed virtual networking features that was first seen in a patch to v5.6. This, along with some other performance tweaks, will show up as a 70% or more network throughput increase, according to Citrix' own measurements. Speaking of performance improvements, XenServer includes the virtual graphics support for HDX to make virtual desktop implementations faster. It also assigns a physical graphics processor to a particular VM, so apps can leverage the graphics instructions set of the processor specifically. The v6 beta freshens support for several newer Linux versions, and support for 1 TB of host RAM too.
Other improvements are in the self-service and private cloud management areas. Self-Service Manager now includes support for both XenServer as well as VMware vSphere; this enables you to build self-service environments for private clouds. It comes packaged as another virtual appliance. Speaking of virtual appliances, XenServer v6 can create these that span across multiple VMs, preserving the relationship among the VMs. And Citrix has integrated importing VMware's VMDKs and Microsoft VHDs into XenCenter itself and made the import process more reliable as well.
All XenServer v6 hosts and VMs can now be managed with a new version of Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012, which has several enhancements of its own for cloud and VM management. You'll need a separate piece of software to bridge the Xen and Microsoft universes, which should be available from Citrix when the Microsoft 2012 versions are finished later this year.
XenServer v6 beta can be downloaded here (registration required). Citrix will host a live webinar tomorrow at 11 am ET (via GotoMeeting, naturally) to show off some of these new features.