One way to wake up a sleepy open source community project is to start another one doing exactly the same thing.
Citrix did just that this week by handing over its CloudStack software to the Apache Software Foundation, making it the second official open source cloud project, after OpenStack. The latter was started at NASA and run by Rackspace and was also spun-out by its founders to gain credibility with developers. Software developers are loathe to trust open source projects run by a single vendor with a commercial interest in the product.
Now, with the Apache Foundation in charge of CloudStack and OpenStack freed from Rackspace, it’s become a two horse race in the open source Infrastructure as a Service platform market. Two strong, open source competitors in this space is good news in terms of moving the market forward faster, but get ready to duck out of the way with all the mud-slinging as the two camps try to out-do each another anyway they can.
In fact the squabbling has already begun. Those in the OpenStack camp say Citrix had no choice but to throw the CloudStack code over the wall. They say it had zero credibility as an open source project inside Citrix and was going no where.
Citrix, meanwhile, claims CloudStack has 30,000 community members and hundreds of production clouds collectively generating more than a billion dollars in revenue. Citrix says it tried to work with OpenStack but claims that the community was moving too slowly which left it with no choice but to release its project to Apache to compete with OpenStack.
The truth is probably somewhere in between. From my research, there are certainly more production clouds running on CloudStack today. So if you are an enterprise company looking for a cloud platform right now, why bet on OpenStack when you can go straight to a production-ready product from CloudStack? But if you’re looking to make a long-term bet, OpenStack has the broadest industry support today with companies including Dell, HP, Cisco, Intel and others all contributing resources. Moreover, I don’t believe this will be a winner takes all market. I think we’re looking at the Ubuntu and Fedora of the cloud, with plenty of room for both.