Citrix doubles down on open-source bet with cloud purchase

Citrix's acquisition of strengthens the company's embrace of open-source software as an essential component of cloud computing, according to company officials.

Citrix’s announced acquisition of strengthens the company’s embrace of open-source software as an essential component of cloud computing, according to company officials.

Citrix announced the purchase of, developer of the open-source cloud computing platform CloudStack, on July 12. CloudStack allows cloud providers and organizations to build and manage private and public clouds.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition, though, raises questions about Citrix’s commitment to the OpenStack computing project launched by Rackspace Cloud and NASA and Citrix’s own next-generation cloud environment, Project Olympus.

Launched July 2010, the OpenStack cloud infrastructure includes more than 1,100 cloud developers,and more than 80 member companies such as Citrix, which is the second-largest contributor to the project and a member of the OpenStack policy board, company officials said.

The goal of the OpenStack project is to let organizations create and offer cloud computing services running on standard hardware. The infrastructure integrates code from NASA’s Nebula cloud platform as well as Rackspace’s Cloud Files.

However, with the acquisition Citrix is doubling down on its OpenStack bets, company officials said.

The acquisition will let Citrix deliver more into the OpenStack community and Project Olympus at a faster rate and get an infusion of top-rated cloud IQ that would have taken the company years to grow organically, they added.

While OpenStack has grown over the past year, “it is in many ways ill-suited to the task of delivering low-cost, massively scalable infrastructure as a service,” as has done in large production environments, Simon Crosby, former Citrix chief technology officer, wrote in a blog entry.

“Citrix can use the acquisition to accelerate its own Project Olympus, which will be OpenStack-based, and in so doing it can offer existing customers a road map that is far richer than could ever be created by a single vendor following its own development path,” Crosby wrote.

The product line is not a traditional enterprise server virtualization platform with cloud management layered on top, Citrix officials said. Instead, it is a powerful, hypervisor-agnostic solution designed from the ground up to help providers build clouds automatically, simply and more efficiently, they said.

A hypervisor, also called a virtual machine manager, is a program that allows multiple operating systems to share a single hardware host. Each operating system appears to have the host's processor, memory and other resources all to itself.

The product line will continue to support leading commercial hypervisors such as Citrix XenServer and VMware vSphere as well as open-source hypervisors like Xen. Citrix intends to add support for Microsoft products such as Hyper-V and System Center to the product line, as well as support a full range of platform-as-a-service development environments, storage systems, servers and management software.

With the addition of, Citrix now offers a complete portfolio of virtualization, orchestration and networking solutions purpose built for the cloud, officials said.

Cloud computing provides on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or interaction from the service provider.

Momentum for cloud computing has been building as the Obama administration trumpets the approach as a way to derive greater efficiency and cost savings from IT investments.

As part of the Office of Management and Budget’s 25-point IT Reform Plan, agencies must identify and move three applications to the cloud within 18 months.