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Xen Orchestra Review and Interview (2022)

Created by the company Vates, Xen Orchestra is an open-source turnkey solution. It is essentially a tool to manage your XCP-ng or Xen Server infrastructure with ease. The ready-to-use solution includes features like VM creation and management, statistics and metrics, and continuous replication.

I reached out to Oliver, the CEO of Vates, to interview him about his company and his products.

The Beginning Of Xen Orchestra

Xen Orchestra was created to be a user-friendly interface to manage XenServer infrastructure. Originally designed solely for the use inside Vates, it quickly became apparent that others were looking for something similar for themselves. Oliver explained:

“Actually, Vates (our company) was originally a services provider specialized in Open Source software. Our job was to help other companies to set up a functional environment that suited their needs using Open Source solutions. To this intent, we had some servers in our company, running several VMs using XenServer. It appeared very early that the official tools (XenCenter) were really not handy to use specifically because it was only able to run in a Windows installation…

Xen Orchestra is born for our own internal needs. The initial target was to create an Open Source tool, web based solution, able to replace XenCenter. In the process of creating Xen Orchestra, we attracted the attention of some of our users and understood that we were not the only one looking for a more friendly interface to manage XenServer infrastructure. This was the very early days of Xen Orchestra. Since that time, we’ve brought a lot of new features to our appliance, always using our customers’ feedback as a guideline helping us to create our roadmap”.

How Exactly Does Xen Orchestra Work?

I asked Oliver if he could explain exactly how Xen Orchestra works. He gave me a very detailed answer:

“On the user side, Xen Orchestra is a web-interface, comparable to vCenter, in which you will find all the important features to manage a VMs infrastructure – creation, standard management, administration, but also backup features and cloud components as resources delegation, LDAP integration and much more. Xen Orchestra is designed to be the only tools you will need to manage your XCP-ng or XenServer infrastructure.

Technically, Xen Orchestra is a VM among the others you have in your infrastructure. It’s a Virtual Machine that will serve multiple purposes but it’s main function will be to communicate with the Xen API (a component shared both by XCP-ng and Citrix Hypervisor). This allows Xen Orchestra to be a completely agentless solution which means that we do not alter in any way your hosts and that it’s very easy to redeploy or get rid of Xen Orchestra in your infrastructure, it’s as easy as deleting the XOA VM”.

Xen Orchestra Stands Out From The Crowd

With all its popular and essential tools and features, Xen Orchestra has worked hard to set itself apart from competitors. Here’s what Oliver said about what makes Xen Orchestra unique:

“Three keywords really:

  • Turnkey: As I said earlier, XOA is a simple VM you deploy in your infrastructure. We make things easy for the user at any level. We offer an open source turnkey infrastructure management solution that just works out of the box, without complicated licenses cost calculation and deployment.
  • Secure: That doesn’t require many third parties solutions and actions from the users side to be effective. On top of that, we’re investing a lot of resources to ensure our hypervisor is actually hardened, both at the boot and VM level. On the other hand, we are also developing our hypervisor: XCP-ng. XCP-ng benefits from massive investment regarding the security part, especially since we benefit from subsidies from the French government for that part.
  • Agnostic and independent: our stack runs on pretty much any server on the market and for a broad range of uses and industries. We try to achieve the greatest possible compatibility in terms of servers available on the market”.

Understanding Customers

The team at Xen Orchestra put customers first and work hard to identify trends amongst their users. This enables them to provide a complete solution and deliver exactly what their customers need. Oliver told me about Xen Orchestra’s number one priority as a business:

“Customers always come first, and we’re trying to make sure we understand their needs. What we’re seeing is a number of interesting trends; first, we have customers who are relying both on datacenters and on-premise instances, and a tool such as Xen Orchestra can really make the difference there. We have customers who require security, others high availability, and many other needs, because most of them operate in very different industries. The good news is, we can accommodate a large number of these needs and there’s value for customers in relying on open, solid, reliable and independent platforms for such a wide range of needs”.

Xen Orchestra Pricing

Although you can download and use Xen Orchestra for free, there are also paid plans available for those who need something beyond the basics. However, the basic option does give you a lot of features including:

  • VM creation and management
  • Live filter search
  • Batch operation
  • Resources adjustment
  • Metrics and statistics

Beyond the free plan, there is Starter, Enterprise, and Premium plan.

The free plan comes with a 14-day free upgrade to the Premium plan. The Premium plan costs $550/month and has additional features like premium support, load balancing and file level restore. 

Big Plans For 2021

The team behind Xen Orchestra have a busy year ahead of them with loads of big plans in development. Oliver told me all about what customers can expect from them in 2021:

“On a general level, Xen Orchestra is going to continue improving on its strong points but in a more immediate future, our 2021 roadmap includes:

  • A brand new web-ui, with a feature, long requested by the community: Treeview!
  • Steady improvements in backup features, with some projects already in progress
  • A Xen Orchestra “lite” edition of sorts will allow users to run in their browser without the need to deploy anything (and let’s remember that Xen Orchestra is agentless by default!)
  • Better hyperconvergence, first through a new edition of XOSAN, but also through our partnership with our friends from Linstor – the main developer of DRBD technology”.

Last, but not least, A big thanks to Oliver for taking the time to speak to me about Xen Orchestra. I wish the team the best of luck with their upcoming plans.

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