Citrix happy with CloudStack move to Apache

Not only does Citrix gain a better product and more developers, but working with the Apache Software Foundation allows customers to sell themselves on upgrades.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

In April 2012, Citrix decided to donate its CloudStack platform to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) and relicence the software under the Apache License.

Two years later, Citrix group VP and GM for cloud platforms group, Sameer Dholakia, told ZDNet at the company's recent Synergy conference that the move has been beneficial for the health and vitality of the project.

"Working in Apache, we found it great." Dholakia said. "We wanted to be the Apache of cloud — there's Apache Hadoop, there's Apache web server, there's Apache Tomcat — these guys have created standards in open source time and time again over a long time."

"Part of the reason why they are able to do that, is they have a tried and true formula for how to do that in a developer-centric way. Which is, code rules."

One of the reasons that Citrix moved across to the ASF, Dholakia said, was because of an appearance that Xen was being driven by Citrix, and it wasn't necessarily so. He said that within the ASF, there is no way that any vendor can exert any influence or control over a project, and it has been a good process for building community.

"No surprise, it's not easy as a vendor that used to being able to direct a product in a certain way," said Dholakia "It's a rigorous process, it's a very clear process, I think it actually has improved our velocity, and our rigour.

"If you are familiar with Apache, you have to vote on the releases, and you can overrule if there is a majority vote, you could still go for it if someone put a minus one, but good community practice is go figure out why they put minus one, and fix it.

"You just get a much better product on the backend."

It's not all roses and glory for Citrix though. Dholakia believes one of the drawbacks of pairing with such a code-focused foundation is a lack of marketing expertise, in a market full of cloud foundations with big budgets.

"There are trade-offs, but net-net we are still very happy with the move."

One benefit of open source, in Dholakia's view, is having potential customers sell themselves on the benefits of buying paid support, and approaching the company themselves.

"That's a great thing for Citrix, and that's one of the great leverage points of the open source model. It gets out in the wild, and we have well over 200 paying customers on our Citrix Cloud Platform, which is our commercial distro, you can think about it that way, but there are hundreds more out in the wild on just the open source."

Despite having the limelight from the conference soaked up by its new Workspace Services desktop-as-a-service and XenMobile 9 products, Dholakia said that the cloud and mobile have always, and will continue, to go hand in hand.

"I think that fundamentally, our view is that mobile and cloud are two highly related and reinforcing trends," he said. "HTML5 unlocks greater opportunity for mobility, and by virtue of that unlocking of greater mobility, it's going to drive more workflow on the back-end of a big cloud, and thus it gets us."

"There's a definite correlation."

Disclosure: Chris Duckett travelled to Synergy 2014 as a guest of Citrix.

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