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5/25/2011
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Citrix Taps Open Stack For Building Private Clouds

Project Olympus will launch before the end of the year to give enterprises a set of cloud software compatible with Rackspace and other OpenStack users.

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Citrix Systems plans to offer Project Olympus, a product designed to bring the big cloud supplier-oriented OpenStack software down to the level of a single company's cloud formation. In other words, use big league, cloud software to build your own infrastructure as a service.

OpenStack is an open source project that was launched by Rackspace and NASA in July. It has the backing of 60 vendors, including Cisco, Ubuntu Linux distributor Canonical, and Dell, and is striving to become a de facto standard for infrastructure-as-a-service suppliers. Although it has broad backing among smaller cloud software suppliers such as Cloud.com or CirraScale, competing infrastructure-as-a-service vendors Amazon Web Services, Savvis, Terremark and Verizon Business have not signed on, nor have IT heavy weights, such as IBM, HP, or Oracle. Intel, however, is a supporter.

CEO Mark Templeton said Citrix, a virtualization software supplier, will offer OpenStack bundled with a cloud-optimized version of Citrix XenServer, its hypervisor for hosting virtual machines. That would allow the Citrix XenServer portion of the data center to start working as a pooled, self-service resource that could be linked to outside OpenStack cloud suppliers.

Early OpenStack code contributions came from NASA and Rackspace with a large supplier orientation; they allow the provisioning of servers and storage on a large scale for individual agencies, departments, or users. NASA's Nebula cloud was built as a pattern that would be repeated for many cloud centers throughout the federal government. When the OpenStack basics are combined with XenServer, Citrix' hypervisor, the set of cloud software will be useful on a smaller scale as well, Templeton said.

"Build a real cloud in your data center based on OpenStack and XenServer. The early access program starts today," said Templeton in a keynote address to 6,000 customers at Synergy, his company's annual user group conference, which was held this week in San Francisco. The first Project Olympus software for implementations will be available "later this year."

Dell will provide a reference architecture implementation of OpenStack by October in time for Citrix' European Synergy event in Barcelona.

If OpenStack becomes a de facto standard among enterprises in their adoption of internal infrastructure as a service, it will make it much more likely that they would turn to Rackspace or other OpenStack users to satisfy their external IaaS needs. It's easier to shift workloads between clouds when they recognize each other's APIs.

Citrix was an early supporter of OpenStack as a way of creating a standard that might counter VMware's strong lead in enterprise virtualization and cloud-supporting software. Rackspace not only uses OpenStack software in its cloud supplier role, but has gone out of its way to say it relies on Citrix XenServer in its operations as well. Lew Moorman, Rackspace's chief strategy officer, affirmed the tie in an appearance on stage with Templeton Wednesday.

Using open source code to build private clouds in the enterprise data center stands in contrast to "solutions that … add proprietary management layers on top of existing datacenter virtualization stacks," as the Project Olympus put it, a thinly-veiled jab at VMware's vCloud initiative.

In addition to the Citrix hypervisor, Project Olympus will support both VMware vSphere virtual machine management software and Microsoft Hyper-V as well. Since vSphere manages ESX Server, VMware's hypervisor, the announcement seemed to indicate that Olympus will be a cross-hypervisor system, in addition to using XenServer as its default hypervisor.

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