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Buying the Cloud

It’s clear that Citrix has been a major supporter of OpenStack and that support makes sense

Here we are on July 12, mid-summer when you think most people are wondering about going to the beach in 90 degree weather, and instead we have big cloud news. Early this morning we were greeted with the announcement that Citrix is buying Cloud.com for more than $200M.  After the initial congratulations to Sheng and the team at Cloud.com, the twitter-sphere and blogosphere went wild with thoughts and deal analysis.  At the same time, everyone was waiting to hear what VMware was going to say in their “Cloud Infrastructure Launch” webcast.

I’ll start with some thoughts on the Cloud.com acquisition.  Rather than go into the rationale and size of the deal, I’d like to focus on what this acquisition means to Citrix, OpenStack, and Rackspace.

It’s clear that Citrix has been a major supporter of OpenStack and that support makes sense since it’s a great way to compete against VMware. OpenStack is shaping up to be the answer to the closed source solutions being developed by VMware for building both public and private clouds.  It’s also clear that Citrix needed a boost to gain traction and credibility in the market for producing cloud infrastructure.  They have a good hypervisor and are busy building out more features, tools, and performance – but cloud infrastructure is a lot more than hypervisor + new features.

Enter the Cloud.com guys. They know how to build clouds, and already have traction with service providers and enterprises alike.  They have proved that they know how to make a cloud scale – and this is not as easy as it sounds.  Keep in mind that building clouds is more complicated than standing up virtualized clusters and running standard tools; there are complex networking, storage, and workload placement problems, not to mention versioning, maintenance, and operations.

So this is clearly a good thing for Citrix, and on the face of it, a good thing for Cloud.com – but what about OpenStack?  The bigger question here is: what does this really mean for the OpenStack community?  Is this a case of Citrix providing the enterprise/supported version of OpenStack as RedHat does for Linux?  Will we see a set of capabilities delivered by Citrix that are built on OpenStack, but that are exclusive to Citrix’s CloudStack?  Will OpenStack be increasingly driven by Citrix’s needs and integration with Xen (versus other hypervisors)?

If Citrix remains committed to its stated direction of providing the software for clouds (rather than building a cloud themselves), they are in a great position to capitalize on OpenStack.  Rackspace, on the other hand, has a more complicated opportunity with OpenStack.  They created the idea and built the community, but they are limited by the fact that they are themselves a cloud provider, so it would be hard for them to sell and support OpenStack software to other cloud providers and vendors.  That leaves the door open for someone else to step in and become the enterprise software vendor for OpenStack.  Clearly Citrix has been targeting this, and the addition of Cloud.com adds the full software stack and knowhow for building and deploying a cloud.

And in other news...VMware announced its Cloud Infrastructure suite today.  Given that the VMware announcement was previously scheduled, I can only conclude that Citrix picked today to overlap with their announcement.  These two announcements occurring on this sleepy mid-July date point to high activity in the cloud space, and the coming wars around who is going to provide the cloud infrastructure for both service providers and the enterprise.  This may become a battle of closed source solutions from VMware and open source solutions from Citrix (and OpenStack)… I’ll write more about the VMware announcement in my next blog, but the battle between Citrix and VMware is definitely heating up.

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More Stories By John Considine

John Considine is Co-Founder & CTO of Cloudswitch. He brings two decades of technology vision and proven experience in complex enterprise system development, integration and product delivery to CloudSwitch. Before founding CloudSwitch, he was Director of the Platform Products Group at Sun Microsystems, where he was responsible for the 69xx virtualized block storage system, 53xx NAS products, the 5800 Object Archive system, as well as the next generation NAS portfolio.

Considine came to Sun through the acquisition of Pirus Networks, where he was part of the early engineering team responsible for the development and release of the Pirus NAS product, including advanced development of parallel NAS functions and the Segmented File System. He has started and boot-strapped a number of start-ups with breakthrough technology in high-performance distributed systems and image processing. He has been granted patents for RAID and distributed file system technology. He began his career as an engineer at Raytheon Missile Systems, and holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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