Citrix Continues To Invest In OpenStack, For XenServer

A Citrix blog post by senior software engineer John Garbutt points out that Citrix has far from walked away from OpenStack. According to Garbutt’s post, Citrix still has two dedicated resources working on OpenStack and is looking for a third. Predictably, Citrix’s main OpenStack focus consists of optimizing its XenServer virtualization platform for OpenStack deployments. At present, Citrix can claim two flagship deployments of OpenStack with XenServer in the form of Internap and Rackspace. Internap deployed a production-grade, OpenStack cloud using XenServer and Rackspace recently launched a Beta version of its OpenStack-based cloud using XenServer instead of the KVM hypervisor traditionally used for OpenStack deployments.

Despite the backing of illustrious customers like Internap and Rackspace, Citrix is continuing to tweak the use of XenServer with OpenStack by announcing additional functionality for OpenStack’s Folsome release such as live migration and boot from volume. In addition, Citrix plans to improve the supporting documentation for OpenStack and XenServer as well as create a compatibility test suite for the Amazon EC2 platform. Cross pool live migration constitutes the main feature that Citrix promises to release in its bid to improve XenServer’s cloud optimization although the company is making no promises of its completion by the OpenStack Folsome release.

The bottom line here is that Citrix still has its fingers in the OpenStack pie and is likely to continue doing so given the relative immaturity of the market for OpenStack clouds. That said, the post indirectly confirms that Citrix has given up any idea of building a cloud infrastructure based on OpenStack in parallel with CloudStack, which it recently incubated with the Apache Software Foundation. When the web buzzed with overly-simplified news of Sony’s “defection” to OpenStack from Amazon Web Services, for example, the tech blogosphere needed an extra couple of days to fully comprehend that Sony was continuing to use Amazon Web Services in parallel with OpenStack. In the case of Citrix, however, the abandonment of OpenStack is complete save for its use as a distribution channel for the XenServer virtualization platform, even though OpenStack may well end up cannibalizing Citrix-commercialized deployments of CloudStack at some point in the future.


NTT and Verio Select CloudStack For Commercial IaaS Public Cloud Offering

NTT Communications Corporation and U.S.-based Verio, wholly owned subsidiaries of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) Communications, today announced their selection of Citrix’s CloudStack IaaS platform as a key component of its public cloud service, CloudN. CloudN integrates the robust network infrastructure capabilities of Verio and NTT with Citrix’s CloudStack platform to provide customers with cloud solutions that offer “efficient, limitless scale and fast deployment – all on an open source software platform,” according to Sameer Dholakia, Citrix’s Group Vice President and General Manager. In the case of Verio, CloudN is currently available exclusively to its channel partners and targets cloud solutions focused on the needs of small and medium-sized businesses. Customers will enjoy unlimited inbound and outbound bandwidth for a provisional period after signup. Verio’s strategy of leveraging its channel partnerships in the hosting provider space to additionally offer cloud solutions for small and medium sized businesses represents a key departure from the stampede for enterprise cloud market share that has characterized the overwhelming majority of cloud solutions. NTT’s endorsement of Citrix’s CloudStack, meanwhile, is highly notable given how NTT has been a participating member of OpenStack and recently collaborated with Dell, Rackspace and HP to launch TryStack, a sandbox for OpenStack development.

Citrix Turns CloudStack Away From OpenStack To Apache Software Foundation

Today, Citrix revealed plans to open-source its CloudStack IaaS solution to the Apache Software Foundation under an Apache 2.0 license. Previously, Citrix had intended to integrate OpenStack with CloudStack in the form of an offering known as Project Olympus, which was unveiled last year as one of the first commercialized distributions of OpenStack. Because OpenStack is one of the world’s largest open source collaborations on cloud computing, a CloudStack product offering whose IaaS code was based on OpenStack would have represented an inter-operable, open source-derived product that avoids vendor lock-in by interfacing with other OpenStack-based products. Today’s announcement, however, represents an abrupt change of course by Citrix with significant implications for OpenStack, Amazon Web Services and cloud inter-operability more generally.

CloudStack will be released for public deployment immediately under the stewardship of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), which takes credit for successfully incubating the likes of Hadoop and Cassandra. Citrix’s press release commented on the decision to open-source CloudStack with ASF as follows:

Elevating CloudStack into a full open source Apache project will further accelerate its mission of delivering a powerful, proven, hypervisor-agnostic platform that helps customers of all sizes build true Amazon-style clouds…. This proven method for incubating and advancing leading open source cloud projects is ideal for bringing a vibrant community of vendors and developers together to accelerate innovation, interoperability and standardization.

Rather than waiting for OpenStack to iron out issues related to its governance structure and choose whether to officially endorse the Amazon Web Services API, Citrix decided to open source CloudStack immediately. In a conference call the day before the publication of the press release, Citrix identified four attributes required of the ecosystem supporting their platform: (1) the platform must be fundamentally cloud-based; (2) production-level ability to scale; (3) Amazon Web Services compatibility; and (4) open source. Citrix’s Sameer Dholakia, Vice President and General Manager of the Cloud Platforms Group, spoke to GigaOM about the difficulties of integrating with OpenStack by noting: “Our very explicit public statement had been that we were going to try and build atop the OpenStack platform…[But] we can’t afford to wait a year or two for the technical maturation process that needs to happen [in order to integrate CloudStack and OpenStack].” Gartner’s Lydia Leong elaborated on Dholakia’s concerns about OpenStack’s immaturity by comparing CloudStack with OpenStack:

What makes this big news is the fact that OpenStack is a highly immature platform (it’s unstable and buggy and still far from feature-complete, and people who work with it politely characterize it as “challenging”), but CloudStack is, at this point in its evolution, a solid product — it’s production-stable and relatively turnkey, comparable to VMware’s vCloud Director (some providers who have lab-tested both even claim stability and ease of implementation are better than vCD). Taking a stable, featureful base, and adding onto it, is far easier for an open-source community to do than trying to build complex software from scratch.

The other reason for Citrix to turn away from OpenStack concerns its equivocation about support for the Amazon Web Services API. Lydia Leong continues: “OpenStack’s community has been waffling about whether or not they want to continue to support an Amazon-compatible API; at the moment, OpenStack has its own API but also secondarily supports Amazon compatibility.” Citrix continues its support for the Amazon Web Services API for its Apache-based CloudStack offering as well as its commercial counterpart although Amazon Web Services has yet to officially endorse it.

Turning over CloudStack to the Apache Software Foundation makes good business sense, according to many analysts. James Staten of Forrester Research noted that Citrix’s decision to hand over CloudStack to the Apache Software Foundation constitutes an astute strategic maneuver to recoup some of its investment in the $200 million acquisition that formed the foundation for its CloudStack offering. However, Staten observes that the question now is whether other vendors will follow suit and break away from OpenStack as well:

For a company that needs revenue now and has a more mature solution, a break away from OpenStack, while politically unpopular, is clearly the right business decision. The key question this raises is whether the move will be followed by others who need revenue now. At the fall 2011 OpenStack Design Summit there was a low rumble of discontent that the OpenStack code was not maturing fast enough.

Staten’s remarks point to concerns that OpenStack code was failing to develop at the pace required to stay commercially competitive in the IaaS space. Given the recent Amazon Web Services-Eucalyptus deal, which consolidates the positioning of the AWS API, and today’s move by Citrix to turn over CloudStack to an Apache 2.0 license, the obvious question is whether OpenStack can innovate at a pace that maintains its contributing base of supporters and roster of commercial deployments. Once seen as a possible counterweight to Amazon Web Services that offers the lure of cloud-interoperability, OpenStack is running up against the clock ticking on the maturity of its code as well as the robustness of its API as an alternative to the Amazon Web Services API.

Citrix Announces General Availability Of Citrix CloudStack 3 For Public and Private IaaS Clouds

At CloudConnect on Monday, Citrix unveiled the general availability of Citrix CloudStack 3, a platform developed for public clouds that, in this version, Citrix is making available to small, medium-size and large organizations alike. Enterprises seeking to deploy private clouds can take advantage of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) technology that “brings the power of true Amazon-style clouds to customers of all sizes.” One of the key components of Citrix CloudStack 3 is its optimization for either the XenServer or Xen hypervisor, even as it supports KVM, OVM and vSphere. Citrix claimed the importance of its optimization for Xen hpervisors by noting that four of the five world’s largest public clouds, Amazon, Rackspace, GoGrid and Softlayer, similarly feature either XenServer or Xen as their preferred hypervisor. The other notable feature of Citrix CloudStack 3 concerns its integration with OpenStack Swift, or OpenStack Object Storage, for the purpose of storing large amounts of data. Current CloudStack customers include Datapipe,, IDC Frontier, Nokia Research and Zynga. Citrix CloudStack 3 strives to deliver all of the functionality of an enterprise-grade, public cloud to private cloud customers of all sizes in a hypervisor-agnostic environment that is nevertheless optimized for the Xen hypervisor.

Cloud Computing 2011: The Year in Review

Whereas Time magazine selected “The Protester” as the Person of the Year, the award for Technology of the Year surely goes to Cloud Computing. 2011 marked the year that cloud computing emerged with force and gravitas onto the enterprise landscape. In the case of enterprise CIOs and IT leaders pondering the use of cloud computing infrastructures, the question of the day suddenly morphed from whether to engage the services of a cloud provider to when and how. Over the course of the year, cloud providers grew, emerged, acquired companies or were acquired, raised venture capital and announced products at a dizzying pace.

Within months, the cloud computing landscape transformed from the Amazon, Rackspace, Joyent, Terremark, Savvis show to something radically heterogeneous and complex. As more and more cloud technologies proliferated, analysts and technologists alike began to feel that the term “cloud computing” itself was losing its meaning. Meanwhile, news agencies and blogs struggled to keep up with the pace of innovation and deployment as startups and enterprises alike announced new, exciting and powerful cloud technologies day after day, week after week.

Below are some of the highlights of cloud computing in 2011, the year of the cloud:

• In January and February, Amazon Web Services busted out of the gate in 2011 with the launch of Elastic Beanstalk and CloudFormation. Elastic Beanstalk automates the process of deploying an application on Amazon’s virtual servers. CloudFormation automates the provisioning of virtual resources using templates that streamline the setup of an infrastructure for deployments of new instances.

• In May, Citrix announced plans to launch Project Olympus, an IaaS platform that allows customers to leverage the OpenStack operating system code to create public or private clouds. Project Olympus marked the first commercialization of OpenStack and thereby inaugurated a series of commercial OpenStack deployments throughout the remainder of 2011.

• In May, Red Hat launched IaaS platform CloudForms and PaaS platform OpenShift. CloudForms signaled genuine innovation in the IaaS space because of its Application Lifecycle Management capabilities and hybrid infrastructure flexibility. OpenShift, meanwhile, presented direct competition to Google Apps, Windows Azure and Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk because of the breadth of its deployment platform and claims about increased portability.

• In June, Apple announced details of iCloud, a software framework that synchronizes files across multiple devices such as iPads, iPhones and personal computers, and pushes software updates to a constellation of devices in unison. In a keynote address at the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), Steve Jobs famously remarked that iCloud would “demote the PC and Mac to being a device,” because “we’re going to move the digital hub into the cloud.”

• In August, Amazon Web Services announced the launch of GovCloud, a private cloud for government agencies that complies with regulatory and compliance rules for the Federal government such as FISMA, FIPS 140-2 compliant end points, SAS-70, ISO 27001, and PCI DSS Level 1.

• In September, OpenStack, the open source cloud computing infrastructure that gained the backing of 144 companies including AMD, Canonical, Cisco, Dell, Intel and Citrix, released Diablo, its latest software version since the Cactus release in April 2011. Diablo, the first upgrade to OpenStack released on a 6 month schedule, upgrades its existing Nova, Object Storage and Glance components.

• Also in September, Joshua McKenty’s startup Piston Cloud Computing launched pentOS, one of the first enterprise grade versions of OpenStack for private clouds. With the launch of pentOS, Piston joined HP, Citrix Systems, Nebula and Dell in an elite group of vendors that commercialized the OpenStack platform in the latter half of 2011.

• In October, Rackspace revealed plans to turn over the leadership of OpenStack to an independent foundation. After founding OpenStack with the collaboration of NASA in the summer of 2010, Rackspace decided to hand over trademarks and copyrights to an independent foundation to ensure that OpenStack remains vendor neutral.

The meteoric rise of OpenStack constituted the cloud computing story of the year, by far. Commercial deployments of OpenStack by Piston Cloud Computing and other vendors underscored the emerging power of OpenStack as an increasingly competitive option to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) vendors such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. Moreover, OpenStack promised global cloud inter-operability and standards resulting from an open source organizational framework for which respect snowballed within the developer and enterprise community alike. Much of the story of cloud computing in 2012 will hinge on the ability of the OpenStack foundation to continue to promote the software framework’s adoption in the private sector and establish itself as a credible counterweight to first mover Amazon Web Services and other proprietary cloud vendors.

Citrix Systems Boosts OpenStack With Acquisition

On July 12, Citrix Systems announced its acquisition of, the open source Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud computing platform that enables enterprises to create private or public cloud environments. Although the terms of the acquisition were not widely revealed, TechCrunch reports that Citrix Systems agreed to purchase for somewhere between $200 and $250 million. Citrix’s acquisition of comes less than two months after disclosure of its plans to commercialize OpenStack with Project Olympus, a product that allows customers to create IaaS cloud environments that leverage the OpenStack operating system code. The addition of’s CloudStack platform to Citrix’s product line means that Citrix can now claim ownership of XenServer hypervisor, XenApp, XenDesktop, Netscaler cloud networking products and the forthcoming Project Olympus. The acquisition of is expected to bolster OpenStack’s position in the cloud computing space because Citrix now promises to promote OpenStack utilization through the three pronged channel of Project Olympus, CloudStack APIs for OpenStack and its corporate support of OpenStack as an open source solution in contrast to a vendor such as Eucalyptus.

As a result of the acquisition, all employees will become part of Citrix. will henceforth be branded as Citrix CloudStack and belong to Citrix’s new Cloud Platforms Group. The acquisition gives Citrix a cluster of high profile customers such as Zynga Inc.,, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Nokia Oyj and South Korean telecommunications company KT Corp that used to create internal cloud infrastructures. A June 17, 2011 GigaOm post by Derrick Harris notes that Zynga used to create its internal Z Cloud alongside RightScale as a tool to manage the union of its Amazon EC2 public cloud and Z Cloud.