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Citrix, Microsoft execs discuss tight relationship

Microsoft SVP Bob Muglia said Microsoft briefly considered licensing the open source hypervisor, Xen.

HOUSTON -- Citrix Systems Inc. and Microsoft are so famously entwined that pundits often wonder why Microsoft hasn't already swallowed up the applications delivery company.

At Synergy, the Citrix conference held here this week, Mark Templeton, the CEO at Citrix, and Bob Muglia, Microsoft's senior vice president of the server and tools division, tackled a variety of questions about the nature of the relationship between the two companies.

Muglia said he thinks everyone expects Microsoft to put Citrix out of business because Citrix is successful and it could be argued that the company's product lines overlap. But whacking Citrix would be bad for Microsoft's business.

"We are a platform provider and Citrix puts applications on top of that platform," he said. "Fundamentally there will always be great opportunities to put solutions on top of that platform. The other thing is that Microsoft's model and Citrix's model are different and compatible."

Templeton said Citrix discussed its acquisition of XenSource with Microsoft prior to making the bid last year, explaining its need for a "full stack." Microsoft supported the deal because its own infrastructure was late to the game and Citrix didn't want to see VMware run away with the server virtualization market.

XenSource was a partner of Microsoft too, and if the goal of Citrix was to become a platform provider and disrupt Microsoft, that wouldn't have sat too well with Redmond. But Templeton said the goal was to build "solutions" on top of the infrastructure.

Muglia said Microsoft thought about adopting the open source Xen hypervisor, but the company deemed it impossible because Xen is licensed under the General Public License (GPL) that requires licensees to release their code.

Templeton said it's not Citrix's strategy to add value on top of VMware's ESX hypervisor, but if it's something customers want, Citrix will enable. "But because of the similarities between Xen and Hyper-V, Xen will run much better on Hyper-V," he said.

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