Open Source Gains Sway in the Cloud

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

The Impact of Cloud Computing

The primary driver for cloud computing adoption is shifting from costs to agility.

Within the cloud computing service provider community, open-source technologies have become pretty standard fare, culminating most recently in the creation of an OpenStack platform for managing cloud computing deployments originally developed by Rackspace and NASA.

Since then, Citrix, which commercially promotes the Xen virtual machine that is at the base of many cloud computing service platforms, has vowed to lead the ongoing development of OpenStack. To help achieve that end, Citrix today announced that it is acquiring Cloud.com, a founding member of OpenStack that is a provider of systems management software, called CloudStack, used to manage cloud computing deployments.

According to Wes Wasson, Citrix senior vice president and chief marketing officer, this acquisition will bolster Citrix's standing with public cloud computing service providers that need tools that automate the management of IT infrastructure to the point where one person can manage thousands of virtual and physical machines.

Why traditional IT organizations - beyond wanting to emulate best-management practices in the cloud? Even though they are heavily committed to VMware technologies at the moment, the movement towards hybrid cloud computing is going to expose them more to open-source technologies. Beyond saving on the cost of acquiring software for the cloud, many IT organizations will decide that a common set of technologies across private and public cloud computing platforms will reduce the complexity of the overall environment.

Of course, they could opt for public cloud computing providers that have standardized on VMware. But right now, the bulk of the cloud computing service-provider community is standardized on open-source technologies. In time, virtualization standards such as the emerging Open Virtualization Format (OVF) will make this less of an issue, but even then there will still be cost and overhead associated with managing commercial and open-source virtualization technologies side by side.

It's still too early to say which technologies will ultimately dominate in the cloud. But it's pretty clear that the proponents of open-source technologies for the cloud are pretty well organized, which would suggest that it's only a matter of time before they start to gather more momentum.

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Jul 13, 2011 5:15 PM Ditlev Bredahl Ditlev Bredahl  says:

The acquisition might be great news for Cloud.com, but there is a real danger of it slowing down the emergence of public cloud services and limiting the options of cloud customers. Despite the cloud explosion in the media, even today there are only 500 public cloud service providers in the world. Compared to the 33,000 hosting companies worldwide, it€™s a very small percentage that can actually put public cloud services in the hands of customers. With Citrix and CA Technologies calling the shots over who makes it as a cloud service provider, we may start to see a squeeze on the speed of delivery of cloud services which will fall behind customer demand. Smaller hosting companies will actually be the biggest driver of public cloud provisioning, but they won€™t necessarily meet the revenue or scale requirements of the newly consolidated big boys to get access to the software they need to start offering cloud services. Ultimately users will be forced to buy in a constrained market, which could trigger a rise in pricing, further delaying the advance of the public cloud.


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