OpenStack cloud gains version, loses Citrix

Open source cloud OS delivers new dashboard and identity management system, but Citrix's shift to CloudStack raises flags

OpenStack has released Essex, the fifth version of its open source cloud OS that comes loaded with 150 new features, such as a full centralized management dashboard, an identity management system, security enhancements, and more.

Impressive though these new features may be, the announcement has been clouded by Citrix's curiously timed announcement earlier in the week that it was dropping support for OpenStack to concentrate on developing its CloudStack platform under an Apache license.

Speaking to InfoWorld, Citrix representatives cited two primary reasons for all but abandoning OpenStack in favor of CloudStack: insurmountable technological incompatibilities between the two platforms, and insufficient responsiveness to customer needs on OpenStack's part.

Citrix emphasized, however, that its newfound commitment to CloudStack should not be construed as either a lack of support or a death sentence for OpenStack. Rather, it creates an opportunity for open source to continue shaping the cloud landscape. "OpenStack doesn't need to lose for CloudStack to win. There's a giant and exciting marketing opportunity here," said Peder Ulander, VP of product marketing for Citrix's Cloud Platforms Group. "For the first time in history, as far back that I can remember, open source is leading the way into a new market category. This is about proprietary versus open source, and open source is going to win."

Among Essex's new features is the first full release of OpenStack Dashboard, code-named Horizon. The dashboard provides users with the ability to access, provision, and automate cloud-based resources through a self-service portal, according to OpenStack. Moreover, the dashboard is designed with extensibility in mind to support plug-ins for third-party products and services.

Also new: the full release ofOpenStack Identity, code-name Keystone, which unifies all of OpenStack's core projects under a common authentication system. The system provides authorization for multiple log-in credentials, including username/password, token-based, and AWS-style log-ins.

Among other improvements, Essex injects OpenStack Compute (code-named Nova) with enhancement feature parity among tier one hypervisors, improved authorization, and live migration with multihost networking. Nova also boasts contributions to support HPC and additional block-storage options, including support for storage offerings from Nexenta, SolidFire, and NetApp.

On the security front, Essex has improved compliance and data security features. OpenStack Object Storage (aka Swift) offers the ability to expire objects according to an organization's document-retention policies, for example. Disaster recovery features enjoy a boost as well, and Essex comes with a capability for uploading data directly from authenticated Web pages.

Not surprisingly, OpenStack used today's announcement as an opportunity to not only highlight the newest features in its cloud platform, but also to tout the fact that the release draws on the contributions of more than 200 developers from 55 different companies.

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