Citrix is in need of an open source cloud operating system for its upcoming cloud computing offering. In other words, Citrix plans to offer cloud computing services and it needs open source software that will implement, deliver and manage these services. At first Citrix chose OpenStack as its cloud platform, but has just changed its mind and is going with CloudStack instead.
OpenStack people are not happy about Citrix’s change of heart. They stand behind their platform, believe in it and think that it will be really useful and successful. No disagreement here.
The problem is just that OpenStack will take longer for Citrix to implement than CloudStack. Already, Citrix has made real progress with CloudStack and things are speedier than ever.
Time-to-market is an important factor to consider.
Someone might think that Citrix should not worry. Sooner or later, no matter what open cloud platform it decides to use, Citrix will deliver the cloud computing services its customers need. But it just so happens that Citrix’s customers are already in need of these services.
For any platform the ability of fast implementation is a trait. Snappy is… well… great! Let me give an example from a completely different field, that of directory access protocols. DAP and LDAP. DAP: no one cares to implement it. LDAP: great success. L stands for lightweight. Lightweight stands for easy to implement. Easy to implement stands for short time-to-market. Short time-to-market stands for fulfilled customers’ needs. Fulfilled customer’s needs stands for… Ok, I’ll stop here before you hit me.
I have to be fair. I do not imply that OpenStack is worse than CloudStack, or better. I do not imply that OpenStack is like DAP and CloudStack is like LDAP, or the other way around. All I am saying is that in Citrix’s case, CloudStack will lead to a faster time-to-market. That might not be the case for a different cloud provider, though. I am not comparing platforms. I am only advocating the right of any cloud provider to be able to freely choose the cloud OS that they will use and to be able to change their opinion in mid-course, if they feel they need to.
Someone might think that Citrix should not be afraid to wait. Even if other cloud providers get out there first, if Citrix is really good at its offerings, Citrix will prevail in the end. An example from a different field would be that of Google. Google was of course very late to the search engine “market”. Yet, it prevailed. So the hypothetical argument might go as follows: “If Citrix will come up with a great cloud offering eventually, they have nothing to be afraid of. Look at Google.”
But this does not apply to the cloud. It is easy for someone to change from one search engine to another. All that is required is to use another URL. But it is not easy to go from one cloud provider to another. It is difficult. And this difficulty may be what drives Citrix to act fast. They need to provide their cloud offerings sooner rather than later. They need to move quickly, before customers choose other clouds and become locked in them or accustomed to them. If that happens, it will not be easy for Citrix to convert customers, even if Citrix’s offerings may be superior.
A real and pressing current need from customers for cloud services combined with the locking (of one degree or another) to those services once they are acquired is what creates a stiff competition between cloud providers, like Microsoft, Amazon, HP and Citrix. And this in turn creates a stiff competition between cloud OS providers, like OpenStack and CloudStack.
If you want more information, Jeffrey Schwartz provides an excellent review on the matter in his blog post “Rackspace to Citrix on CloudStack: What Were You Thinking?“.