Xen hypervisor leaps into Linux Foundation

Amazon Web Services, Google to exert cloudy influence

The Linux Foundation is embracing the Xen hypervisor, giving major clouds such as Google and Amazon a greater influence in the development of the open source technology.

The announcement was made at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit in San Francisco on Sunday, and sees the Xen project become a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project. No snoring at the back there – this matters.

The Xen project is a home to the Xen hypervisor, along with the Xen Cloud Platform control freak and the Xen ARM hypervisor variant for mobile devices.

By tossing the Xen Project into the Swiss-like neutrality of the Linux Foundation, Citrix is hoping to tempt more companies into using the virtualization technology, and thereby giving it more punters for its commercial offerings.

"It's a pretty significant change," Citrix's veep of open source solutions Peder Ulander, told The Register. "In looking at what the next steps for Xen, with regards to where it needs it go, we recognize that housing it in an independent foundation enables some of our key users like Google, Amazon, Terremark, and Samsung to participate in the leadership of the platform."

That "leadership" means that a set of the technology industry's heavy Xen users will dedicate money and development time to the hypervisor, and will be able to do this with the project free of what Urlander calls the "chains of Citrix."

By moving Xen away from Citrix, the Linux Foundation hopes its "neutral" status can lead to more cross-collaboration between Xen-backers, LF executive director Jim Zemlin told The Register.

Having Xen within the LF "allows for a more balanced equilibrium among the community participants," Zemlin said. The "whole reason people get into this collaborative development is to share r&d costs."

Founding members of the Xen Project's new Linux Foundation incarnation include Amazon Web Services, AMD, Bromium, Calxeda, CA Technologies, Cisco, Citrix, Google, Intel, Oracle, Samsung, and Verizon Terremark.

Each founding company will put in $25,000 per year to underwrite the costs of the project, including its servers, shared validation and testing, funding for events, and other community-outreach activities.

Citrix will continue to invest in the tech, and its staff of over a hundred engineers will keep on working as before, Ulander said.

It's an open secret in the cloud industry that Amazon Web Services runs on a tweaked version of Xen, so the fact that Bezos & Co. is getting a way of more closely influencing the development of the technology matters not just for Xen users, but for hypervisor competitors such as VMware (ESXi), Microsoft (Hyper-V), and Red Hat and IBM (KVM), all of which are trying to gain greater influence in cloud computing. ®

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