If you are planning to expand your server, virtualization, or thinking to shift your server workloads to the cloud, Citrix XenServer (now known as Citrix Hypervisor) could be an option for you. In today’s discussion will take you through the fundamentals and the advantages you can expect from it and also the drawbacks.
XenServer, developed by Citrix Systems, is an open-source hypervisor (a computer software, firmware, or hardware for creating and running virtual machines-VMs) platform. It is built over the Xen hypervisor for creating and managing desktop, server, and cloud virtualization infrastructure. It helps to deploy, host, and manage VMs and distribute hardware resources like CPU, memory, storage, and networking to the VMs.
The role of a hypervisor in virtualization
Virtualization is the process of creating IT services for platforms, storage solutions, network resources, and other components that are traditionally bound to the hardware and rendering them online. Virtual machines are integrated computer systems with storage capacity, processing power, and installed applications that can be accessed from anywhere using any device. With Citrix hypervisor, it is possible to create several guest virtual machines that share the resources such as memory and processing power of a single host machine. This helps to reduce the total cost of ownership of server deployments.
- The key outputs of Citrix XenServer
- Consolidates multiple VMs into a physical server.
- Reduces the management of the number of separate disk images.
- Simplifies integration with existing networking and storage infrastructures.
- Allows zero downtime maintenance (through the live migration of VMs between Citrix hypervisor hosts).
- Assures fast availability of the VMs on another server in case one fails.
- Increases the portability of the VM images (a single VM image works on several deployment infrastructures).
The feature-packed advantages of Citrix XenServer / Citrix Hypervisor
Easy virtualization of workload
The fast-running VMs allow the installation and running of software in minutes without the need to configure a complex management infrastructure or involving a dedicated storage network. The virtualization of your workload can start immediately after installing the XenServer. You also have the option of converting the server workloads and turning them into VMs. The Citrix XenMotion migration tool allows moving the VMs across a resource pool without any loss of resources.
Robust server management
Citrix XenServer is designed to create and manage any kind of virtual infrastructure, automate, and integrate management processes to turn complex IT environments into simpler ones.
Powerful XenCenter Console
It is a Windows-native graphical user interface (GUI) for managing XenServer. With its help, the admins can closely monitor, administer, and manage several VMs coming from a centralized management console. Additionally, a user with just a few clicks can control the VMs (such as create, start, stop, migrate, copy, or backup).
XenConvert is a physical-to-virtual (P2V) adaptation tool for converting Windows OS, data, and applications from a physical machine to XenServer compatible VMs thus making the transition smooth.
The admins can create policies to automatically collect the snapshots of the regularly scheduled VMs and organize them in an archive. This also ensures that in case of an outage a VM could be quickly recovered to its original version.
XenServer Enterprise Version comes with Direct Inspect (APIs) to give protection against malware, viruses, and rootkits and allows third-party vendors to secure the OS. The Measured Boot feature safeguards the hypervisor ensuring that the VMs run only on authorized hardware.
Server outage protection
In the case of a server outage, the protected VMs can be automatically restarted from another server with minimum downtime.
Improved Application Performance
The dynamic memory feature of XenServer helps to share the unused server memory between the VMs thus optimizing the number of VMs involved with improved app performance.
Workload balancing and distributed virtual switching
The workload balancing eliminates any possibility of performance bottlenecks during the migration of the VMs to a new location (within a resource pool) while the distributed virtual switching help to create a network of network fabric for handling multi-tenancy.
Citrix XenServer licensing
Citrix XenServer offers Standard and Enterprise versions. The Standard version is for the users who want a solid, high performing platform for virtualization yet do not need the premium features that come with the Enterprise version. The Enterprise version is a premium edition optimized for server, desktop, and cloud workloads. Any customer who has purchased Citrix Virtual XenDesktop or Citrix Virtual Apps is entitled to XenServer.
Having discussed the uses of XenServer, let’s now turn to the flip side of it.
The downside of XenServer
The XenServer might not be as established as its major competitors. Because it is an open-source hypervisor (and without the same level of integration or available certifications), it is more suitable for experienced service providers. Its lack of automation capabilities will compel you to use PowerShell scripts if you wish to automate tasks.
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