Citrix puts weight behind OpenStack rival CloudStack

The open-source cloud software has been submitted as Apache project, placing the infrastructure-as-a-service alongside popular tools like Hadoop and Cassandra, and signalling a move by Citrix away from OpenStack

Citrix has put forward CloudStack as an Apache project, in a sign it is favouring its own open-source infrastructure-as-a-service software above the OpenStack alternative it has backed so far.

In addition, Citrix plans to develop a commercial version of the CloudStack distribution submitted to the Apache Software Foundation, the company said on Tuesday. It gained the CloudStack software when it acquired in mid-2011, and in February launched its third version of the product.

In its Apache distribution, the IaaS will get access to a "collaborative, consensus-based development process, and an open and pragmatic software licence", Citrix's former chief cloud architect and now Bechtel product executive, Christian Reilly, said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Citrix is a member of the rival OpenStack project, which was created in mid-2010. Backers of the open-source technology include Dell, Rackspace and NASA, alongside more than 150 other companies. Via its Apache submission, Citrix is diversifying its open-source cloud technology efforts away from OpenStack.

"This move will position CloudStack to become the de facto industry standard platform for cloud computing," Sameer Dholakia, Citrix's general manager of cloud platforms, said in the company's statement.

The technology already underpins "hundreds of production clouds" that collectively generate over $1bn (£626m) in revenue, according to Citrix. Within a year, the company plans to hold two CloudStack Design Summits, it added.

Bringing CloudStack into the same development framework as popular open-source tools such as Hadoop, Hive and Cassandra is a significant move, according to Reilly.

"By cozying up to these new kids on the block, this arguably positions CloudStack to be considered as a 'natural relative' of these products when building out bottom-to-top next-generation software stacks," he said. "That, in itself, holds some interesting possibilities for commercially supported deployments and services engagements."

Citrix and Apache

Citrix also revealed on Tuesday that it has become the Apache Software Foundation's fifth 'platinum' sponsor, alongside Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. It said it will invest in engineering, community support and marketing for the CloudStack Apache Incubator project, if it is accepted. On top of this, it announced it will release the recently launched CloudStack 3 under an Apache Licence 2.0.

"Joining [the Apache Software Foundation] adds a sense of open-source legitimacy and may be a defensive strategy on Citrix's part to avoid obsolescence in the face of OpenStack's mindshare dominance, while trying to gain more mindshare against their old rival VMware," Randy Bias, co-founder of OpenStack proponent Cloudscaling, said in a blog predicting the move on Monday.

Bias believes the cloud is a "three-way ecosystem race" between Amazon Web Services, VMware and OpenStack. "If [Citrix] are moving away from OpenStack and can't move towards VMware, that only leaves two options: move towards Amazon or try and create a fourth ecosystem. Perhaps that is a major motivation for joining?"

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