Citrix has abandoned its Olympus OpenStack distribution and will focus instead on its open-source CloudStack operating system, which it has contributed as a project under the Apache Software Foundation.
As part of the announcement, Citrix said CloudStack will continue to support Amazon's APIs (application programming interfaces) and believes such support is crucial to the success of cloud platforms. It implied it has Amazon's blessing.
The announcement could be seen as a blow to OpenStack, which has faced some criticism after strategic moves that alienated some users, although experts were quick to say the Citrix move might not have a significant impact on OpenStack.
Citrix is releasing Citrix CloudStack 3.0 under the Apache 2.0 license on Tuesday and also plans to offer a commercially supported distribution of Apache CloudStack. CloudStack is the open-source cloud operating system Citrix acquired along with Cloud.com last year.
Citrix said its announcement has wide support among companies already using CloudStack or that have made their products compatible with it. Fifty software and service providers including Engine Yard, RightScale, CumuLogic, Puppet Labs, Hortonworks, Opscode, Equinix, Juniper Networks and ScaleXtreme are supporting the project, Citrix said. More than 100 commercial production clouds are using CloudStack, some of which have tens of thousands of servers, Citrix said.
It believes open source is key to success for a cloud platform. "Unlike previous generations of computing, we believe this cloud platform build-out is going to be led by technologies that are first proven at scale at large production clouds and then made available to customers under an open-source license," said Sameer Dholakia, group vice president and general manager of cloud platforms for Citrix. That process has proved successful for cloud technologies like Hadoop, Hive and Cassandra, which are open-source tools for building or managing databases, he noted. "We believe the same will prove true with cloud platforms that are running these new cloud services."
Citrix thinks the opportunity is large. It hopes to emulate Red Hat, which grew itself into a billion-dollar business by selling products based on Linux. "We will be selling what we believe is likely to be a popular commercial distribution of [Apache CloudStack]," he said. Customers will want to buy such software from a large, established company like Citrix, he said.
The company expects to spend "in the seven figures" on engineering and marketing on the Apache CloudStack project, he said.
The move means Citrix is abandoning its work on its OpenStack distribution. OpenStack decided to create a foundation to back its project. The idea was to add legitimacy to the program, but the move made OpenStack less appealing to Citrix, Dholakia said.
"Citrix as a company does not believe the creation of a foundation is a trivial matter. It's a task and a risk that is unnecessary to add to such a critical program ... particularly when there is a tried and true foundation like Apache," he said.
In addition, Citrix is firmly throwing its weight behind Amazon's APIs. Using the same APIs means customers can more easily move workloads between Amazon Web Services and other clouds -- namely, private clouds -- that also support Amazon's APIs. While OpenStack supports some Amazon APIs, it appears more interested in backing its own APIs.