Friday, July 18, 2008

Citrix Management Land Grab - Project Kensho

In an effort to secure the management technology high ground as hypervisors proliferate and become more of a ubiquitous commodity than a premium point product, Citrix has announced Project Kensho. The strategy to enable portability and scalability across heterogenous hypervisors is so obvious and correct, that my only question after reading the release was “What is the provenance of the name 'Kensho'?”

Given Citrix' headquarters deep in Florida, my first speculation was that it was a phonetically correct implementation of an affirmative response with a southern accent:

“I ken sho' yew zackly how dis new technology iz gonna be betta dan anything yew eva saw in yo' life.”

It seemed reasonable at first, given my own tendency to display a southern flair. But given the likelihood of a strong influence by Simon Crosby, an Englishman who is the Citrix CTO for all things virtualization, perhaps the name is not based at all upon the southern heritage of Citrix. I sent Simon a note asking about the provenance of the name, and he replied:

“Kensho is a Zen Buddhist term (pun on Xen) for enlightenment experiences . . . . Now go deep into your Zen mind and figure those out!”

With the mystery of the name solved, let's make some commentary on the obvious. I have no doubt that the future of application release and lifecycle management is going to be based upon virtual machine images. By releasing and managing applications as virtual machines, it is possible to define the application independent from the infrastructure upon which it runs. In so doing, applications can be deployed and scaled on-demand - on any virtualized cloud of machines - without complex, costly, ad hoc setup procedures. More importantly, you can de-scale on one infrastructure and re-scale on different infrastructure as demand fluctuates because the setup and configuration information is not unique to the infrastructure. Unlike VMware's VADK technology which is unique to the VMware hypervisor, Project Kensho is aiming higher by embracing this obvious, management focused, hypervisor independent architecture for cloud computing.

Well, I say “Welcome to the party, Citrix!” The more voices we have proclaiming the benefits of this new architecture for cloud computing, the better. I have spoken with not less than 12 CTOs and CIOs over the last 3 weeks who have proclaimed to me the importance of multi-hypervisor support for any application release and lifecycle management system based upon virtual machines. The ability to scale, de-scale, and re-scale seamlessly and repeatably across multiple infrastructure targets is critical if cloud computing is to move from promising hype to bankable reality. Kudos to Citrix for moving the ball down the field on this critical goal with Project Kensho.


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