Citrix Drops OpenStack for New Apache Bedfellows

By | Apr 6, 2012

Citrix knows that in order to compete in the evolving technology market, effective cloud deployment and virtualization options are key. Last year, the company acquired and began work on its CloudStack platform, meant to compete directly with Amazon Web Services (AWS). The company also made substantial contributions to the open source OpenStack cloud project, and many saw the maturing platform as a natural fit for Critix's own CloudStack. But now, the company has announced that it will giving its cloud platform an Apache licence, a move that raises a number of questions.

Chasing the Dream

According to an article at ComputerWorld, Citrix officials were clear about their reasons for moving to an Apache licence: it gives better Amazon compatibility. The company says that any cloud development platform needs to be designed from day one for the cloud with a proven ability to scale, an open source pedigree, and the ability to work with AWS. OpenStack, which recently created a foundation to help mature its offering, does not meet several of these criteria--most notably in its lack of proven scalability and inability to fully embrace Amazon's vision of the Web. Says Sameer Dholakia of Citrix, "Based on challenges of the technical maturity and where we are with CloudStack, [OpenStack] became a path not viable."

While companies aren't typically looking to back models used by their competitors, the focus on Amazon is a savvy move by Citrix. The web giant was the first to make cloud computing accessible to the technology masses and convincing consumers to use an entirely new platform devoid of significant similarity to Amazon's is a recipe for disaster.

The Lure of Open Source

A recent InfoWorld article about the Apache/CloudStack decision discusses in greater detail what Citrix believes--and what many companies think is necessary--for a cloud platform to succeed in today's market: topping that list is that it be open source. Any development technology designed behind closed doors and then used as a jumping-off point into the information melee that is the cloud won't see substantial market gains because IT admins want a platform with transparency and the approval of the technology community as a whole, not a boxed-in, cookie-cutter solution from a provider.

By contributing CloudStack to the Apache Software Foundation, Citrix gets to keep their platform open source, take advantage of the Foundation's established track record and support all of Amazon's APIs. It's these APIs that may hold the biggest boon for Citrix; not only will backing them allow consumers to more easily move between public and private clouds also provide IT admins with a familiar interface. OpenStack has over 150 companies already backing its development and Citrix says it will still back the project, but the up-and-coming platform development service seems more interested in creating its own APIs than in supporting what's been laid out by Amazon.

That's no surprise, really--technology should be about innovation rather than revisionism, at least from the perspective of a designer. For a company like Citrix, which is faced with an already Amazon-dominated market, putting resources behind a relative newcomer doesn't make sense when an easily obtainable Apache licence helps open the doors to a world of Amazon clients looking for new ways to do business in the cloud without giving up familiar features.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

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