Citrix to join Apache Software Foundation

News Jennifer Scott Apr 3, 2012

UPDATE: Citrix confirms it will donate its open source cloud platform back to the community.

UPDATE: Citrix has confirmed it will be donating its CloudStack platform to the Apache Software Foundation, but will keep offering a commercial solution as "the centrepiece" of its cloud portfolio.

The announcement was made at 13:17 BST, confiriming rumours Cloud Pro reported on earlier today - see orgininal story below.

Citrix CloudStack 3 will be released today under Apache License 2.0, and the CloudStack.org community will become part of the Apache Incubator program, with funding for engineering, community support and marketing coming from Citrix.

While other enterprise vendors will attempt to add cloud-like management layers to their existing proprietary data centre virtualisation products, we believe the biggest winners in the Cloud Era will be clouds built on a platform that is designed from the ground up with a true Amazon-style architecture, proven at scale in real production clouds, compatible with the Amazon architecture and fully committed to open source," said Sameer Dholakia, group vice president and general manager of cloud platforms at Citrix.

"With the significant momentum CloudStack has gained over the past year, it is the only cloud platform on the market that even comes close to meeting these requirements. Joining the Apache Software Foundation demonstrates our deep commitment to the fourth pillar, enabling a broad community of developers and users to innovate, drive industry standards, and encourage interoperability and openness in the cloud."

The company said it would reveal more details around the ongoing cloud strategy at its annual conference, Citrix Synergy, due to be held in San Francisco in May.

ORIGINAL STORY: Citrix is set to make an announcement to join the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) and donate some of its key software products back to the community.

The revelation was made by Randy Bias, co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) of Cloud Scaling, who claimed Cloud.com’s CloudStack - owned by Citrix but born of the open source movement - would be contributed to the community in an announcement today, and there was even the possibility of Citrix’ Xen hypervisor being donated as well.

“Citrix paid a pretty penny for Cloud.com,” wrote Bias on the company's blog. “At reportedly $200 million and possibly as much as 40x revenue, it was a huge bet and now it appears destined to be transferred over to ASF lock, stock, and barrel.”

The CTO said it wasn’t clear at the time of the deal what Citrix wanted to do with the acquisition, as it had already publicly backed OpenStack - another open source cloud operating system championed by VMware - but now it might be leaving the rival software behind.

Bias admitted CloudStack has not had the same take-up as OpenStack, adding: “As the fastest growing open source project in history, OpenStack can make some serious claims in terms of the number of contributors and velocity.”

By giving CloudStack back to the community, however, Bias believes it could give the software a boost in the market.

“Joining ASF adds a sense of open source legitimacy and may be a defensive strategy on Citrix’s part to avoid obsolescence in the face of OpenStack’s mindshare dominance, while trying to gain more mindshare against their old rival, VMware,” he said.

Clive Longbottom, founder and principal analyst at Quocirca, isn't as sure the outcome would be so positive for Citrix, or the open source community.

Starting with the acqusition of CloudStack, he told Cloud Pro: “It looks like when Citrix took on Cloud.com that due diligence had probably been carried out either after a few pints or in a dark room with little access to the outside world (or both).”  

“There was little commonality between how Xen could be used and how CloudStack could be used, and discussions with Citrix only served to confuse things further.”

Although it hasn’t made a huge success out of Cloudstack as part of Citrix, Longbottom believes it will be even harder for the firm to do so once it is unleashed into the community and the overall decision will be “a bit of a loss” for the virtualisation firm.

“If they retain some rights or interest in aspects of CloudStack and ASF makes a success of it, then it could still work for Citrix - however, I don’t see how this would work,” he said. “Citrix would still need to work on making Xen [the company’s hypervisor] and CloudStack work nicely together and to take all its existing ecosystem of stack on top of Xen and make that work as well – virtual desktops, security software, self-service portal, etc.”

“ If this does work, then Citrix should have kept hold of CloudStack and positioned the whole kit and caboodle as both its private and public cloud environment that could be used for multi-workload environments. “

If the ASF can make CloudStack a really strong competitor to OpenStack, then the decision may benefit them, but Longbottom feared that OpenStack’s dominance could leave them “flogging a dead horse.”

Citrix would not confirm the decision with us, but did confirm there would be an announcement later today on the company’s cloud strategy.