XenSource, based on the open-source Xen software, bridges a gap between Microsoft and open-source software on virtualized servers. They're working together to be sure that Xen works well with Windows, yet Microsoft doesn't actually touch the open-source software, avoiding any cloudy licensing issues. That benefit would be lost if Microsoft buys Citrix.
Microsoft is also putting virtualization features similar to Xen's into its own products. Customers will then have a choice to use either Windows or Xen, since they're compatible.
Won't that snuff XenSource? Artale said no, because it will add features and stay ahead of Microsoft's offering. With an open-source development process and a smaller product, "we can release the product somewhat faster," he said. The trick is to work closely with Microsoft and provide extra value to its platform, he said.
Artale, 42, said it feels like the early days of Windows NT that precipitated a wave of startups and new enterprise technologies.
"There's a complete ecosystem of software that needs to appear around all of us in virtualization that have analogs to the physical world — things like monitoring software to tell you if a system is still healthy, backup, disaster recovery, high availability," he said.
Still you have IBM waiting for the ultimate big pounce, when the dust settles, for now, Microsoft is on its calculated track.