Intel buys Citrix.

WRITTEN BACK IN 2009 – Funny eh?

No, I am not someone high up in the industry that knows something that no one else knows. And before you tweet about this or send this post to your buddies, this is not true.

Last night while working and reading this thing about Intel buying a virtualization vendor came to my mind and I decided to take that line of thought and exercise it a little bit. So here you have what I think.

First of all the point here is not to think if this would really make a lot of sense from a business (reading, $$$) perspective. I am sure there could be several arguments why this would be great and why it would suck. So feel free to start such discussion using the comments here. 🙂

The main idea is what this acquisition could do to the market not only in terms of virtualization but the processor/CPU/Chipset one as well and how all that could push ‘Server Centric’ solutions combined with local hypervisors.

So imagine this acquisition goes through and no anti-trust crap happens (big chance it would in this case).

When you own the hardware platform, it is much easier to get the most out of whatever you run on top of that. Or any platform for that matter. For example I am sure Microsoft Office will always have a competitive advantage as it runs on top of Windows and as Microsoft owns it I am sure there are several tricks up the sleeve that make office simply better, faster or more efficient than the competition. Same for a graphics card manufacturer. They know their hardware and for sure are the ones that know how to get the best out of it.

Or let’s take a big real world example here: the XBox 360. By designing the hardware platform itself, focusing on what that platform is supposed to do, you get the most out of it. And owning both layers (the 360 hardware and its software – OS/SDK) no one better than Microsoft to release games that are always pushing the envelope, getting the most of the hardware at early stages. Halo/Project Gotham (even on the old XBox) were very good examples of that. Several other ones exist on the 360 to prove the point.

Now going back to Intel/Citrix. If Intel, the chipset/cpu manufacturer acquires someone like Citrix, that now has a stronghold in the virtualization market, Intel could do some very interesting things:

– As they would own both layers, I am sure they could make the hypervisor get the most of the hardware.
– Going the other way around, having a much better understanding of the software layer, the hardware platform could be changed to provide the best performance/transparency to the hypervisor.
– A new chipset with the hypervisor built-in could be delivered and loaded on any new PC from now on. This would put a hypervisor on every computer, probably bringing virtualization to the masses (I am not saying here this is good or bad. I am just stating the fact that this would indeed put a hypervisor on lots of machines around the globe).
– Now that someone has both layers under one umbrella, what would prevent Intel from having a hypervisor that is completely optimized to Intel chipsets and that would never be as good on AMD hardware for example? Or the other way around, another hypervisor would never be as good/efficient on Intel hardware as Intel’s own one (let’s name it Xentel Server).

Thinking about that made me realize this could be the downfall of several big names out there like AMD and VMWare for example. Why would I run VMWare if Xentel Server is way more scalable and faster? Why would I buy machines with AMD CPUs if the ones with ‘Intel inside’ not only have a built-in hypervisor but give way better performance when I actually use such hypervisor? What would this do to Hyper-V for example? Given that SCVMM is modular Microsoft could easily adopt Xentel Server and simply write all the management goodies needed…

There are several other things such acquisition could potentially bring to the table and certainly I did not discuss these in this article.

Will this happen? I would tend to say no, it will not happen.

But it would be a VERY interesting thing to see. So for now all we can do is discuss how such thing would change the market as we know. 🙂


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