Getting Started with Xen Cloud Platform (XCP)

3
Posted March 4, 2013 by Stephen Davis in Software
Xen Cloud Panda

There are a lot virtualization platforms out there, but today we will be covering the Xen Cloud Platform (or XCP.) Throughout the next few weeks we will be detailing a series of articles that will provide you with all the information you need to create your own private cloud and virtual desktop infrastructure. We will be using a combination of Free Open Source Software (FOSS) and Commercial Software that provide free licenses with certain limitations.

XCP is a turnkey virtualization solution that provides out-of-the box virtualization and cloud computing. The Xen Cloud Platform is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL2). This is not to be confused with Citrix XenServer. XCP contains a subset of the features and functionality found in the commercial Citrix XenServer distribution.

The below figure is a chart from the Wiki that visualizes the differences between XCP and the various Citrix offerings.

Features

Xen Cloud Platform

XenServer Free XenServer Advanced XenServer Enterprise XenServer Platinum
Cost/Licensing

Free/Open Source (Multiple Licenses 1)

Free/Citrix EULA

Paid/Citrix EULA

XenServer hypervisor

X

X

X

X

X

IntelliCache

X

X

X

X

X

Resilient distributed management architecture

X

X

X

X

X

VM disk snapshot and revert

X

X

X

X

X

XenCenter management

X

X

X

X

X

Conversion tools

X

X

X

X

X

XenMotion® live Migration

X

X

X

X

X

Heterogeneous pools

X

X

X

X

Dynamic Memory Control

X

X

X

X

Performance alerting and reporting

X

X

X

X

Distributed virtual switching management tool

X

X

X

High availability

X

X

X

Automated VM protection and recovery

X

3

3

X

Host power management

X

X

X

Live memory snapshot and revert

X

X

X

Role-based administration

X

X

X

Dynamic workload balancing

X

X

Provisioning services (virtual)

X

X

StorageLink

X

X

Web self-service with delegated admin

2

X

X

Site recovery

X

X

Lab manager with self-service portal

X

Provisioning services (physical)

X

Features taken from here.
[1] LGPL, GPL, Q Public License v1
[2] works flawless using original Virtual Appliance from Citrix (tested: XCP 1.5beta (1.4.90) and XenServer-wss-1.1.1.xva)
[3] Automated VM protection and recovery is only available for the Advanced and Enterprise editions in the 6.0 release and later.
 

Xen Logo

XCP is available in two flavors: an installable ISO and the XCP-XAPI Packages. The first is a complete Hyper-visor OS based on an Optimized CentOS 5 Kernel, the second is a set of installable packages that can be added to your desired linux distro. Currently only Debian and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and newer are supported. I personally prefer the ISO over the packages for two reasons. The installer is an all-in-one package that is maintained by Xen & the packages do not include drivers for storage nor do they include the Open vSwitch. Which is not difficult to add, but why create extra work for yourself!

 Conclusion

What really makes XCP a great platform to jumpstart your forray into the cloud space is that it is the foundation for a mainstream commercial product, Citrix XenServer. Not only does XCP have all of the features of the Citrix XenServer free edition, but also includes many features included only in the Advanced, Enterprise, and Platinum versions such as Dynamic Memory Control. Additionally XCP uses the same base platform, so you can manage and migrate VMs effortlessly to the commercially supported versions, should you upgrade in the future. As you can see Xen Cloud Platform is a great alternative to commercially available hyper-visors such as VMWare, Hyper-v & Citrix XenServer.

I have chosen to use the XCP ISO and will be installing from USB to my hosts. So stayed tuned and next time we will be walking through the process of creating the USB Installer and Installing the system to your host!

 


About the Author

Stephen Davis

For my day job I am a management consultant focused on Information Security, designing and implementing security for clients in the Financial Services and Technology sectors. My goal is to help users learn and leverage new technology and platforms that can transform their businesses. If you have comments/questions feel free to join us on the forums; you can find me as, Nitrobass24.

3 Comments


  1.  
    zach

    You should check out Proxmox if you havent done so already.

    http://www.proxmox.com/products/proxmox-ve/features

    Very cool KVM based linux distro with full GUI similar to Vsphere/ESX




  2.  
    NedO

    eagerly awaiting more on xen. wanted to do this for a work lab





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