Release: Citrix XenServer 5.6 (Essentials for XenServer no more)

Last week, during its Synergy 2010 conference (see coverage), Citrix announced the availability of XenServer 5.6.

This is the first update since Citrix decided to release XenServer as a free and open source hypervisor in February 2010, and with it Citrix completely changed the naming convention for the product.
The stand-alone product called Essentials for XenServer doesn’t exist anymore: the enterprise management capabilities that it offers have been integrated in the XenServer package, and distributed across four different editions: Free (the one fully open source), Advanced, Enterprise and Platinum.


In details, the XenServer 5.6 new features are:

  • Dynamic Memory (reported as “Memory optimization in the chart above”)
    Dynamic Memory, a memory overcommit technology, auto-adjust the memory of running virtual machines, but keeps the memory within a range of pre-defined functioning limits (dynamic minimum and dynamic maximum) as specified by the administrator. 
    When DMC is enabled, even when hosts are full, XenServer will attempt to reclaim memory (by reducing the memory allocation of running VMs within their defined dynamic ranges). In this way running VMs are squeezed proportionally at the same distance between the dynamic minimum and dynamic maximum for all VMs on the host. So, while DMC is on and the host’s memory is plentiful, all running VMs will receive their Dynamic Maximum Memory level. When DMC is on and the host’s memory is scarce, all running VMs will receive their Dynamic Minimum Memory level.
    Support for guest operating systems is limited.
  • Automated Workload Balancing
    Workload balancing (WLB) offers the ability to reduce power consumption by consolidating workloads on the smallest number of hosts and powering off unused hosts. 
    WLB configuration includes the option to exclude specific hosts from WLB algorithms.
  • Host Power Management
    Power Management features include support for wake-on-LAN and vendor-specific implementations from HP, Dell, and others.
  • Role-based Administration
    Administrative users can be assigned one of several roles, which govern the actions they are able to complete from XenCenter and the command-line interface (CLI).
  • StorageLink Site Recovery
    Enhanced integration with storage-level replication enables recovery of an entire virtual infrastructure at a secondary disaster recovery site.
  • Performance Alerting and Reporting
  • Support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux/CentOS/Oracle Enterprise Linux 5.4
  • Support for up to 64 logical processors, 256 GB RAM, and 16 NICs per host
  • Support for OVF import/export in XenCenter

Essentials still exists but just for Microsoft Hyper-V.

XenServer 5.6 will be available for download starting May 28.