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Citrix Gives CloudStack To The Apache Software Foundation

Less than a year after acquiring, Citrix is sending CloudStack, the open-source software designed to deploy and manage large networks of virtual machines as a highly available, scalable cloud computing platform, to the Apache Software Foundation Incubation program, joining such as OpenOffice and Wave, which was spun out from Google. Citrix will continue to sell and support a commercial CloudStack offering, and there is no change in pricing or support. Last year's cloud announcement, Project Olympus, the company's commercial implementation of OpenStack, is at an end. This marks another twisting turn in Citrix' path in cloud software.

Citrix will continue to support CloudStack development, as well as selling a commercial CloudStack offering providing 24x7 support, forward and backward compatibility, and bug fixes to its customers. This follows a similar model that Redhat successfully executed on, by providing support and design guidance for the open-source Linux operating system.

CloudStack's arrival at the ASF also brings, Citrix representatives claim, 30,000 community members, 1000s of applications, and hundreds of production clouds, ensuring on-going interest and development of the open-source software.

As part of the platinum sponsorship of ASF, Citrix is doubling the number of engineers working on CloudStack, and the company is also hiring a staff to act as evangelists and ASF project mentors who will bring new developers into the project, training them on the project and Apache tools, and work on hack-a-thons and local meet-ups.

"Today's announcement from Citrix on CloudStack is significant in two ways," says Krishnan Subramanian, principal analyst Rishidot Research and editor “By taking CloudStack to Apache Foundation, Citrix is now putting pressure on OpenStack to really make OpenStack Foundation more equitable for all the ecosystem partners. OpenStack's governance model will come into closer scrutiny because the open-source developers flocking to OpenStack now have a cloud platform backed by Apache Foundation. Also, their embrace of AWS API adds momentum to the calls for standardizing around AWS APIs in the cloud.”

Tying a vendor too closely to an open-source project or standardization efforts can hamper the project's success, because the project or protocol is seen as a vendor play. The Trusted Computing Group's Trusted Network Connect suffers from being viewed as a Juniper protocol, even though it was developed within the TNC, and portions are also being developed within the IETF's Network Endpoint Assessment working group. Sending CloudStack to the ASF and changing the license to Apache 2, Citrix hopes to attract developers who are dissatisfied with other open-source cloud projects like OpenStack. The ASF is a respected open-source governance organization, which is an important aspect for developers and companies that are sharing development.

Citrix promises to continue to support CloudStack with engineering, community involvement, and marketing to the tune of 7 figures (representatives didn't say which 7 figures). Since Citrix' cloud strategy is dependent on CloudStack, they have a vested interest in its continued success. If successful, CloudStack will join other high-profile Apache projects such as the Apache HTTP server, ActiveMQ, and Tomcat. Not only does this provide a cloud platform under the ASF governance model, but it furthers the in-roads for letting Amazon define the APIs for cloud integration.

Citrix' support for CloudStack is in response to competition from vendors like VMware, Oracle, Redhat, and even Microsoft. Having been caught flat-footed on virtualization, Citrix has fumbled around for a private cloud strategy, first with Workflow Studio in 2008, which arguably was one of the first orchestration suites that integrated Xen App, Xen Server and Netscalar into a workflow and is virtually non-existent on Citrix' Web site. Then Project Olympus in 2011 followed by the acquisition of shortly thereafter.

Citrix is clearly feeling their way through the cloud landscape, looking to compete with other vendors and open-source projects. Sending CloudStack to the ASF, along with the platinum sponsorship and commitment of development and outreach personnel, shows Citrix is committed to CloudStack, but it's also a gamble. The stakes are high for the company that can find itself playing catch-up with more fleet-footed rivals.

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