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Citrix CTO Advises Demanding Clarity From Vendors On Cloud

Cloud thought leader Simon Crosby talks about standards, open source, Xen's power center, and where VMware kicks butt.

InformationWeek: What standards body would you like to see take it up?

Crosby: There isn't a home well identified yet. It's not the traditional IETF world. It's part of a conversation with other vendors. In general, going into existing organizations is great because they have frameworks, but where it belongs is an interesting conversation.

InformationWeek: In a roundtable discussion at Interop, you discussed the important role of open source innovation. But proprietary software and hardware also play a role in innovation, and I'm thinking in particular about VMware and Apple. How do you see the forces of open source and proprietary technology interacting when it comes to innovation?

Crosby:I think it's a race argument. If you are far in the lead, why would you throw it to open source? But open source is a tool to strategically advance certain sectors of the industry to maintain balance and achieve a rate of innovation.

Take cloud and IaaS. If there were 50 vendors going on about IaaS, the clutter would be so bad that the incumbent would walk away with it all. For us, the goal in terms of an effort like OpenStack is to align the industry around a vehicle to meet commercial needs but also move faster to deliver core components that people are fighting around that has no long-term commercial value.

It's like the Margherita pizza: cheese, sauce, crust. Those are the basic ingredients and you build something on top of it. Look at companies building applications and services on top of Amazon EC2 and S3. OpenStack will create more opportunity for CPU vendors, server vendors, storage vendors, and others who will build on top of it.

InformationWeek: Do IT professionals have a clear idea of what the cloud is at this point?

Crosby: I don't think general IT has a clear idea of cloud and what it is. It's such a massive shift that every vendor has to be cloud-relevant. So all we vendors are responsible for "clouding" the definition. Cloud to the average IT server person means more automated steps. For many customers I visit, cloud means desktops delivered from a cloud. And then there are folks we work with who are of the Zynga type, where the Zynga cloud has to scale massively and run this monster app at huge scale with incredible performance. All those people have different notions of cloud.

You have to clearly define your goals in terms of what technology ought to deliver to you: change your costs, accelerate delivery, whatever. Then go to vendors and beat up on them to explain it better.

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