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

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"We've been working with OpenStack for about 15 months, and we're pleased to see how the Authors file keeps growing with every release," said Juan J. Martinez, a lead OpenStack developer, in a provided statement. "The number of people contributing code is a fine indicator of good health, supported by the excellent management of the elected technical leaders and the best development practices that translate into lots of fixed bugs, improvements and new functionalities. We're confident that we made the right decision committing resources to include OpenStack in our business strategy."

The subtext in all this: Citrix may have been among the biggest contributors, but OpenStack does not need Citrix to survive. Supporters of OpenStack have vigorously made that argument since Citrix revealed its change of course. "You can see with the contributions over the last couple of releases that [Citrix's] has diminished. That's been fine. We have had other contributors," said Jonathan Bryce, chairman of the OpenStack Project Policy Board and co-founder of Rackspace Cloud.

OpenStack's reps were fairly noncommittal as to CloudStack's prospects under the Apache Foundation umbrella. "My general viewpoint is that the Apache Foundation is a great place to run an open source project, but I don't think it makes or breaks a project on its own," Bryce said.

In that vein, OpenStack's announcement included the following observation: "Having companies support your announcement is one thing, but building a strong development community and commercial ecosystem where companies are actually contributing code takes time, investment, and the right structure."

Citrix, for its part, stands steadfastly by its decision to focus its resources on developing CloudStack under the Apache license. According to Sameer Dholakia, group VP and GM for Citrix's Cloud Platforms Group, the company did not make the decision lightly; rather, it came out of necessity.

The biggest problem, he said, was technological in nature: Citrix wanted to be able to wrap CloudStack around OpenStack but after a thorough analysis between the group's joint engineering teams, it found that closing the gap would take between one and two years. "We could not afford to wait that long," said Dholakia. "We have customers and prospects that are wanting a production-ready solution."

That issue goes hand in hand with to the second problem Citrix identified: inadequate responsiveness on OpenStack's side to would-be customers' pressing needs and demands. "At the end of the day, we at Citrix are focused on competing with and beating VMWare in the marketplace around the cloud," he said.

Citrix did proffer a plan to address its concerns: getting the OpenStack community to consume CloudStack as it core compute engine. Dholakia said Citrix made that offer five or six times, including most recently from the stage of a panel discussion at the recent CloudConnect 2012 conference. "That would have been the ideal answer," he said.

This story, "OpenStack cloud gains version, loses Citrix," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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