Teaming Up with Citrix to Support FreeBSD on Windows Server Hyper-V

Posted by Anandeep Pannu
Senior Program Manager, Open Source Technical Center

Yesterday on the blog, we announced that FreeBSD support is now ready and available for Windows Server Hyper-V users. Thanks to the diligent work by our partners Citrix and NetApp, who together helped us contribute some 8,500 lines of code for the release, FreeBSD 8.2 can now run on Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V as a first-class guest. We are excited by how ties to the FreeBSD community have strengthened by working with Citrix and NetApp to offer our customers more options as they implement server virtualization and move toward cloud computing.
We connected with Citrix’s Tom Goodwin, Software Architect for the FreeBSD Integration Services project, to learn more about Citrix’s efforts to deliver FreeBSD support for Hyper-V.
First, can you give our readers some background on Citrix?
Citrix is transforming how businesses and IT work and people collaborate in the cloud era. With market-leading cloud, collaboration, networking and virtualization technologies, Citrix powers mobile workstyles and cloud services, making complex enterprise IT simpler and more accessible for 260,000 organizations. Citrix products touch 75 percent of Internet users each day.

How did your collaboration with Microsoft for this project get started?  What inspired you and your team to develop the BSD network driver for Hyper-V?
At Citrix, we see Hyper-V as being a key platform for delivering virtual computing services. Our NetScaler VPX virtual network appliance is based on FreeBSD, and having optimized paravirtual BSD drivers is an important component in order to achieve high performance and seamless integration.
How will the driver contributions help Microsoft and FreeBSD customers and partners?
These drivers are providing a path to extend the ecosystems of both FreeBSD and Hyper-V. For Hyper-V, it gives the opportunity to support a variety of FreeBSD applications and environments. And FreeBSD-based products can gain additional market opportunities to run in Hyper-V sites.
Have you received any feedback from the FreeBSD community about this collaboration?
The reception we’ve witnessed thus far in the FreeBSD community seems quite positive. Releasing the source code under a FreeBSD license gives developers the opportunity to extend more FreeBSD-based products into Hyper-V environments.

What surprised you most about working with Microsoft?
I was surprised by the degree of commitment and resources that Microsoft has been applying toward working directly with the open source community. There seems to be a clear recognition by the company of the value that stems from working with a variety of the computing environments that are out there. 
What did you think was the most challenging and/or interesting part of this entire process?
The driver development had to be coordinated across multiple companies, with teams located all around the world. This created some inherent communication challenges (like when to schedule phone conferences), but it also gave us the opportunity to work with some bright and creative engineers from outside of our company’s boundaries.

What kinds of collaborations would you like to see Microsoft undertake with open source communities moving forward?
There are some interesting extensions to Hyper-V that will be coming in the new Windows releases. Specifically, the SR-IOV network virtualization interfaces offer the potential for very high performance virtual machines. Microsoft seems to have been making some interesting developments toward making SR-IOV more easily configurable and usable, and I think that by sharing these interfaces with the open source community, it will then help to make them become more common standards.

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