Is a Cloudy Battle Shaping Up Between OpenStack and CloudStack?

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 04, 2012

As noted here yesterday, Citrix has cut its support for the open source OpenStack cloud computing platform as it moving full steam ahead with the next phase of its CloudStack strategy. CloudStack will be submitted to the Apache Software Foundation as an open source Apache project, and "Citrix will also deliver a commercially supported release of the proposed Apache CloudStack distribution as the centerpiece of its cloud infrastructure product portfolio." The news of Citrix's abandonment of OpenStack and increased focus on CloudStack has now provoked a number of reactions, with some observers predicting a full scale war between the open source cloud platforms.

Lydia Leong, a Gartner researcher writes in a post dubbed "Citrix, CloudStack, OpenStack, and the war for open source clouds":

"What makes this big news is the fact that OpenStack is a highly immature platform (it’s unstable and buggy and still far from feature-complete, and people who work with it politely characterize it as “challenging”), but CloudStack is, at this point in its evolution, a solid product — it’s production-stable and relatively turnkey, comparable to VMware’s vCloud Director (some providers who have lab-tested both even claim stability and ease of implementation are better than vCD). Taking a stable, featureful base, and adding onto it, is far easier for an open-source community to do than trying to build complex software from scratch...Also, by simply giving CloudStack to the ASF, Citrix explicitly embraces a wholly-open, committer-driven governance model for an open-source CMP."

Indeed, CloudStack came to fruition as a result of Citrix's acquisition of, and had many significant companies using its cloud tools. Leong also makes this significant point about CloudStack:

"Citrix, of course, stands to benefit indirectly — most people who choose to use CloudStack also choose to use Xen, and often purchase XenServer, plus Citrix will continue to provide commercial support for CloudStack."

You can find much more analysis on this front in this post, and it's worth noting that OpenStack's supporters are downplaying Citrix's move. Let's remember that more than 150 companies support OpenStack, and organizations interested in deploying it can take advantage of various support options. Rackspace's "Fanatical Support" is just one example. 

In the cloud, support is going to make all the difference. Businesses and organizations want flexible solutions for their deployments, which is helping to drive open source platforms, but they will demand top-notch support. Enterprises, especially, will favor a platform-level solution when it's clear that they'll get completely reliable support. There are also huge commercial opportunities opening up for companies that provide quality support for the leading cloud platforms.

As OpenStack and CloudStack mature, they could very well become fierce open source competitors.