Roundup: CloudStack, OpenStack and Stack Wars

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When Citrix Systems acquired Cloud.com last July, the company said  its ownership of the CloudStack platform would not diminish its support of OpenStack, the fast-growing open source IaaS platform founded by Rackspace and NASA. That changed yesterday, as Citrix discontinued its Open Stack development effort and shifted CloudStack from a GPL license to the the Apache Software Foundation in an effort to build a more active community around CloudStack development. Does this signal a “stack war” between the leading open source cloud platforms? Here’s a roundup of notable analysis and commentary from around the web:

Bloomberg Businessweek – Ashlee Vance looks at Citrix’ history with similar initiatives: “For Citrix, this gamble is huge. It paid $500 million for XenSource in 2007, hoping to undercut VMware’s rise. Even though plenty of companies use the open-source Xen software, Citrix has never come close to seeing VMware-style revenues or profits. It’s rumored that Citrix paid about $250 million for Cloud.com. Once again it’s going up against VMware and other open-source players in a nasty battle for the future of computing.”

GigaOm- Derek Harris looks at the licensing decision: “According to Sameer Dholakia, vice president and general manager of the Cloud Platforms Group at Citrix, the decision to make CloudStack an Apache project wasn’t easy, but was necessary. ‘Our very explicit public statement had been that we were going to try and build atop the OpenStack platform,’ he told me during a recent call. ‘… [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].’ Citrix tried to work with OpenStack, he said — it spent the better part of a 2011 trying to do that — but CloudStack software was 12 to 24 months ahead of OpenStack in terms of development, and the gap just wasn’t closing fast enough.”

RightScale – The view from Thorsten von Eicken, CTO and co-founder of cloud management provider RightScale: “CloudStack has powered some of the most successful large scale private cloud deployments in production and is powering a good number of large public cloud service providers too. From that point of view it only makes sense for Citrix to stick to its proven technology and continue to develop the CloudStack codebase, pulling-in parts of OpenStack where appropriate, such as for the storage service, and using its own technology for other parts. With this move to make CloudStack an Apache Foundation Project, Citrix puts a stake in the ground around its commitment to CloudStack as an independent technology, and its roadmap to remain competitive on the API front.”

The Register – Timothy Prickett Morgan examines the API debate: “Both Eucalyptus and Cloud.com are also fervent believers that to be a cloud means adhering to and cloning the set of management APIs that Amazon Web Services has created for its compute and storage clouds. This latter fact seems to have been a bone of contention between Citrix and the rest of the OpenStack community, which, as Peder Ulander, chief marketing officer at Cloud.com, pointed out is “explicitly trying to develop a new API set” and that this, in the long run as far as Citrix is concerned, is not a good strategy”.

CloudAve – Krishnan Subramanian focused on developers: “By pushing the project to Apache foundation, Citrix is clearly positioning themselves to gain the necessary mindshare while also consolidating their marketshare. The move to Apache Foundation allows them to do just that because it signals to the developers that the project is truly open (well, Apache Foundation is the mecca of open source and what other credential will anyone want?) and it also tells the ecosystem partners that they can jump in with a plan to monetize around the project. In short, it can be easily seen as the surest sign that Citrix has no interest in remote controlling the project. I think such a perception will increase developer adoption in the coming years, eventually, making CloudStack a more robust and competitive platform.”

CloudPundit – Lydia Leong on the “open cloud” battle for mindshare: “I think this move is going to cause a lot of near-term soul-searching amongst the major commercial contributors to OpenStack. While clearly there’s value in working on multiple projects, each of the vendors still needs to place bets on where their engineering time and budgets are best spent. Momentum is with OpenStack, but it’s also got a long way to go.”

Mirantis: Commentary from Boris Renski, CMO and co-founder of Mirantis, which has focused on training and development for OpenStack: “Is it a hostile move that will undermine OpenStack? I see it more as an act of desperation. Clearly, that wasn’t the initial plan, when Citrix first acquired Cloud.com. However, Citrix has failed to build the community around Cloud.com, miscalculated the synergies between the two communities, got trumped by OpenStack momentum, and dumped what’s left of Cloud.com to the Apache foundation. They have already announced CloudStack would be open source twice before, yet have received no outside contributions to date. The last commit to Cloud.com on GitHub by a non-Citrix employee is dated several months ago. ”

Cloudscaling – A blog item from Randy Bias: “So what’s happening here? Is Citrix giving up? That seems unlikely. Are they giving new life to CloudStack as an open source project? All of the momentum continues to be with OpenStack at the moment. Joining ASF seems like a bold and smart business move, but it could also wind up being quite a big flop if a community doesn’t form. Bold move or brash decision? Only time will tell.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.