Citrix will offer an open source virtual switch for Xen and KVM

citrix logo

At the end of April, Citrix announced the upcoming features of XenServer 5.5 and Essentials for XenServer / Hyper-V 5.5, opening the public beta program.

Last week during the Synergy conference, the company clarified which features will be included in the free XenServer and which ones will be part of Essentials:

XenServer (free) Essentials (non free, for XenServer and Hyper-V)
Consolidated Backup
(pluggable architecture that allows 3rd party vendors to perform incremental, in-guest, file and image backups of virtual machines)
Workload balancing
(star ratings for individual VM placement and balancing recommendations for resource pools to achieve optimal performance)
New XenConvert
(V2V migration from VMware VMDK to Microsoft VHD format and support for OVF format)
StorageLink integration
(native standards-based support for several storage arrays over iSCSI and Fibre Channel)
Active Directory integration Support for 3rd party hypervisors in Virtual Lab Management component
(the OEM’ed VMLogix LabManager)
Enhanced Search inside GUI  

Citrix also announced the general availability date, June 16, and the recommended price for Essentials: $2,500 per server, regardless of the number of processors.

But the less the most interesting feature has yet to come: a pluggable, open source virtual switch for Xen

This code will be used by 3rd party network vendors to develop virtual switches for XenServer that can compete with the Cisco Nexus 1000V for VMware vSphere 4.0.

Chris Wolf, Senior Analyst at Burton Group has some juicy details about it on his personal blog:

The virtual switch will be open source and initially compatible with both Xen- and KVM-based hypervisors.
It will provide centralized network management.
It will support advanced network management features such as Netflow, SPAN, RSPAN, and ERSPAN-
It will initially be available as a plug-in to XenCenter.
It will support security features such as ACLs and 802.1x.

Chris Hoff, the former Chief Security Architect at Unisys, knows even more about this upcoming module and wrote a long and interesting insight about it on his personal blog.

No words on when this virtual switch will be available but we can guess who will be involved in the project: the fearless Vyatta is already competing with Cisco thanks to their amazing open source router; if the company would ever decide to also release a virtual switch, this is their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.