VMware has responded to customer pressure and reversed its decision to end the Enterprise Edition of vSphere.

The company had originally announced that it was withdrawing this version of the software by 15 December but, according to Matt Piercy, VMware's regional director for northern Europe, VMware has extended the product's life indefinitely - "or as indefinitely as any other VMware product," he said.

The news came just after virtualisation competitor Citrix announced an initiative to attract disillusioned VMware users by making it easier to migrate to Citrix XenServer or Microsoft's Hyper-V easier.

Project Open Door has been devised for VMware customers to switch to other platforms by offering virtualisation management tools along with free support, training and conversion tools.

According to john Humphreys , senior director of marketing for Citrix's data centre and cloud division, the move to launch Project Open Door was prompted by the number of inquires that the company had fielded from VMware's aggressive approach to licensing. "We've seen that rise in vSphere pricing hits at a time when organisations are experiencing budget cuts or freezes. We've seen a host of folks make the move away from VMware," he said. "The fact that VMware is going to ‘end-of-life' its enterprise edition.

The project's conversion tools have been designed to make the move as painless as possible. "Although," he said, "the move from VMware's ESX to XenServer is not a big one - it's more a case of familiarisation, about on par as moving from Office 2003 to Office 2008." To make the change even less painful, the company is also offering a day's training to help users get on top of the software. And, as the third incentive, free technical support for five incident support pack (5 by 8 hours) is offered. There is a caveat however, the training and technical support is only offered for every five servers that are converted.

VMware's Piercy is nonplussed by the move. "We're the market leader and it's only natural that people come after us, but from what I've seen Citrix is offering nothing of value. The level of support they're offering, for example, is what you'd expect in a test and development environment not an enterprise-class system. I see this as a mark of desperation, if it was worth anything they wouldn't be giving it away."

He admitted that the company had some complaints over the decision to end Enterprise Edition. "We always listen to customers, we're paranoid about them and will try to respond to their concerns. We signed up 21,000 new customers in the first half of 2009, so we must be doing something right."

Citrix is unrepentant about its stance. In a statement responding to VMware's change of heart, it said that despite VMware's indefinite extension, it believed that the product's life would only be extended by a few months and that the principle still held.