So, in perhaps one of the worst kept embargoes of 2012 to date, Citrix finally announces their intent to join the ASF (Apache Software Foundation) and “donate” the Cloudstack code to the open source community.
Anyone with the requisite amount of brain cells to challenge algae could have seen this move coming and, despite it being touted as “brash, bold and brave”, it was really fairly obvious and I, for one, applaud Citrix, but not for the reasons you might think.
First, let’s credit Mark Templeton and the team with continuity. While others may pivot around their approach and their business models, Templeton has remained steadfast, unwavering is his commitment to open source and ensuring that, from the moment the acquisition of Simon Crosby and Ian Pratt’s XenSource (latter to become XenServer) was completed, every keynote and speaking engagement has led with the open source / open compatibility theme. Bravo.
Second, let’s make a subtle, yet important distinction between an Apache Project and the Apache License. Each official Apache Project is licensed under the terms of the Apache License, but not every piece of FOSS licensed under the Apache License is an Apache Project.
According to Wikipedia:
All software produced by the ASF or any of its projects or subjects is licensed according to the terms of the Apache License. Some non-ASF software is also licensed using the Apache License. As of November 2010, over 6000 projects located at SourceForge.net were available under the terms of the Apache License.
This is important to understand because, if I understand the Citrix strategy correctly, Cloudstack will become an official Apache Project via the incubator process, which immediately puts it in the same stable as other, more notable successes, such as HTTP Server, Cassandra and Hadoop. By cozying up to these new kids on the block, this arguably positions Cloudstack to be considered as a “natural relative” of these products when building out bottom-to-top next generation software stacks. That, in itself, holds some interesting possibilities for commercially supported deployments and services engagements.
Additionally, the Apache Projects are characterized by a collaborative, consensus-based development process and an open and pragmatic software license. Sounds idyllic. Interestingly, OpenStack is Apache Licensed, but is not currently an official Apache Project. Read in to that what you will.
Should it be confirmed, I will not be in the least surprised by Citrix’ exit from OpenStack. The deep-rooted politic, hidden agendas and the overall return have made little sense in terms of commercial opportunity and the de facto positioning of “it [feature] will be available in the next release” will not have sat well within the corridors of power. Add that to the recent “insert coin to continue” trend within OpenStack and the dreadful, garish “loophole” in the Apache License (sigh) that almost begs for “embrace and extend but do not return code” will have contributed significantly to the sounding of the death knell. How the latter plays out for Cloudstack will be interesting to observe too.
Now, back to the topic at hand. On a personal note, I am a little disappointed that the “rabbit out of the hat” wasn’t the announcement of a deeper relationship with AWS. Since the recent announcement from Eucalyptus (which interestingly didn’t see the light of day as an official AWS statement), I have been feeling more and more perplexed as to why Citrix (who have a natural synergy with AWS via Xen today) were not able to nail this to make inroads into an “AWS compatible and supported Private Cloud” solution.
Perhaps unbeknown to many, cloud.com already had / has a layer called “Cloudbridge” (not to be confused with the other Citrix Cloudbridge) which essentially mapped certain pieces of functionality from the EC2 API such that anyone who had written management tools for Cloudstack could use those same tools to perform functions within AWS. While Eucalyptus, it must be stated, have literally set their stall out to emulate the EC2 API from their inception, they are nowhere near the size of muscle of a Citrix, yet they seem to have stolen a chink of the limelight. I am left scratching my head as to how that was allowed to happen.
To me, a Citrix / Amazon snuggle-fest, remembering that OpenStack recently dropped their original intent to support the EC2 API, would have made an interesting proposition and helped play into Citrix’ strength – the enterprise.
Finally, no assessment would be complete without thinking about the service provider side. This, as you may recall, is what kick-started cloud.com’s successes with Cloudstack and prompted Citrix to dig deep into their pockets to acquire the small startup. Even with a move to Apache, the value proposition to the service provider markets (and I can’t believe I am about to say this) will continue to be in the opportunity to sell “traditional” XenDesktop/App, licences, XenServer licenses, Netscaler licenses, EMS Cortex (whatever it became) Control Panel licenses and last but not least, CloudPortal licenses – BSS/OSS is critical to service providers and the Citrix solution is pretty neat overall.
The folks on Great America Parkway may be “brash, bold and brave” but stupid? They certainly ain’t.