Massive news this morning for anyone even remotely interested in what’s happening in the cloud is the fact that Citrix has completed an acquisition of Cloud.com, the open source cloud computing platform vendor who was in the news just a week ago announcing the hiring of cloud luminary Christian Reilly as their new VP of Enterprise Architecture. With this deal Citrix gains Reilly (he’s now Chief Cloud Architect for the Citrix Cloud Platforms group) and also big cloud names such as cloud.com CEO Sheng Liang and Peder Ulander.

For those who need the introduction, Cloud.com’s CloudStack product line helps providers of all types deploy and manage cloud services that are scalable, secure, and, perhaps most importantly, open by design. Founded in 2008, cloud.com has rapidly built some high profile customers including the following interesting examples;

  • Zynga – cloud.com powers the private part of Zynga’s innovative zCloud hybrid environment)
  • Tata – cloud.com was chosen to build Tata’s global InstaCompute cloud computing offering
  • Korea Telecom – probably the best known example of a traditional telco moving to the cloud, KT used cloud.com for it’s infrastructure platform
  • CloudCentral – a small player from my part of the world, CloudCentral uses cloud.com to build it’s own Australian based infrastructure offering

Cloud.com have managed to build this momentum in part because their platform is both hypervisor-agnostic and built to be simple and open from the ground up. This acquisition allows Citrix to further expand their cloud offerings, and gain the credibility that comes with the high caliber cloud.com team. In announcing this deal Citrix points out what is obvious to those of us who watch this space, that the;

transition from the PC Era to the Cloud Era will fuel a massive build out in cloud infrastructure. This market will feature thousands of providers of all shapes and sizes, offering a vast array of new cloud services ranging from business, infrastructure and development offerings, to consumer, mobile and gaming services. Most of the clouds that service this market will look nothing like traditional enterprise datacenters. They will run on radically different platforms purpose built for cloud computing – platforms designed from the ground up to deliver multi-tier, multi-tenant services in the simplest, most cost- effective way possible. The world’s largest and most successful public clouds are all built this way today.

With this acquisition, Citrix is greedily eyeing the lucrative service provide market and hopes to replicate the sort of deals that cloud.com has done with he likes of Tata, Korea Telecom and others to build their own public cloud services. Cloud.com will continue to be available as a standalone solution, but a specifically Citrix branded version will be included in a future release.

Open vs Proprietary – Two Tigers at War

This deal sees Citrix go into battle head-to-head with VMware. VMware has a similar sort of an offering with its vCloud product – the main difference being that vCloud is a proprietary offering that is more about adding cloud management on top of traditional virtualization. Cloud.com on the other hand is a complete cloud-specific solution, and is open which gives customers a higher perception of flexibility and reduced lock-in.

In another part of the announcement, and one that will be music to the ears of those who are picking OpenStack as the open cloud system of choice, Citrix is saying that this acquisition will accelerate its support of OpenStack – a movement that it is a founding member, and second largest contributor, to. Citrix already announced support for OpenStack recently, this will be extended to the Cloud.com product line in a future release.

Outside of accelerated OpenStack support, Citrix is indicating that there will be a general quickening of CloudStack development – specifically the inclusion of Hyper-V support. Cloud.com will continue t support both commercial hypervisors (XenServer and vSphere) as well as open source hypervisors such as Xen.

A few of us have been wondering what o expect rom Citrix in the cloud area – they’ve been a company that hasn’t had a lot of attention compared to other companies. This morning changed all that….

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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