It’s been a long time in the making, and the announcement is perhaps predictably short on detail. But it’s fantastic to be able to publicly comment for the first time on our partnership with Amazon.

Everyone knows that Amazon (AWS) operates the largest IaaS cloud. With a customer list that reads like the who’s who of web brands, AWS knows more about how to securely operate a cloud infrastructure at scale than any enterprise vendor, and has proven to be superbly inventive in adding compelling software services (recent examples include the Elastic Beanstalk and the RDS Relational Database Service) for no incremental charge above storage and compute. In my view AWS is building PaaS the right way – offering highly sticky services that power real world applications. Even luminaries such as the Sheriff of Redwood Valley and Ray Ozzie have recognized their genius.

VMware has been trying to position AWS as a “consumer cloud” of no relevance to the enterprise, a conjecture elegantly refuted by Randy Bias of Cloudscaling. AWS is very serious about the enterprise cloud segment, and today’s announcement is the first of many that we hope to make in this spirit.

Citrix has been working with Amazon for some time to ensure that XenApp and our networking products, such as NetScaler, Branch Repeater and their virtual appliance implementations (VPX), work well in scenarios where customers want to take advantage of cloud-bursting to scale out their Windows or web application delivery infrastructures – effectively permitting them to outsource their DMZ and the app delivery services to the cloud. Amazon has also long been a friend of the Xen community.

Today’s announcement takes our relationship a stage further. Citrix has announced that it will closely partner with Amazon to further our strategic goal of delivering open, inter-operable cloud solutions. We have specifically announced collaboration on Windows, interoperability and development of a rich set of value-added cloud solutions:

  1. To start with, Citrix and Amazon are both committed to running any VM from any hypervisor, whether Windows or Linux based, with unbeatable performance, pay-as-you-go pricing, and elastic scalability,
  2. We are both committed to the continued enrichment of the infrastructure service fabric to meet the security, compliance, performance and SLAs demanded by enterprises for app delivery from the cloud
  3. We will ensure unparalleled portability, security and manageability of application workloads between private and public clouds
  4. We will ensure that AWS runs Windows as well as, or better than your private cloud, enabling you to move more workloads to the cloud sooner, and to maximize price/performance. Citrix has extensive experience in optimizing Windows workloads on XenServer and its natural for Citrix to be the right partner to help optimize these same applications on AWS.
  5. We will continue to collaborate to optimize performance and portability for all workloads, focusing on security by design, and open innovation.

Here are some key take-aways for Citrix customers:

  1. You can expect seamless manageability for private and hosted workloads, with role-based, end-to end management, from any enterprise virtualization platform, to the cloud. A Citrix XenServer customer will be able to simply use XenCenter to manage their hosted workloads
  2. This announcement is good news for another great partner: Microsoft. The Azure VM Role thus far offers only an ephemeral instance model for Windows Server 2008 R2 VMs. Our collaboration with Amazon will enable Microsoft’s Enterprise customers (and SPLA consumers) to confidently select AWS for their most demanding non-ephemeral workloads.
  3. Citrix is committed to offering customers a set of solutions that embrace cloud computing and seamlessly extend the enterprise into an open, inter-operable and portable cloud environment, including
    1. Citrix OpenCloud Bridge for seamless network connectivity
    2. Citrix OpenCloud Access provides secure, role-based access to cloud hosted app workloads by enterprise administrators
    3. Citrix NetScaler offers secure credential-based access to desktops and cloud based apps
    4. A powerful set of value added solutions that span enterprise and cloud, including Lab Management, Disaster Recovery, Compliance and more.

It’s probably also worth pointing out that if your Linux vendor has been telling you (as I have repeatedly heard) that it’s all over for Xen in the cloud you should tell them it RHEL-ly ain’t so. I recommend that you evaluate Amazon Linux as an excellent alternative that is compatible, well supported and Enterprise class.

At the end of the day, I invite you to consider two possibilities for your cloud. The first is a single-vendor, closed solution that operates at modest scale, is not interoperable or compatible with other vendors. Moreover it commands an extraordinary price premium whether you run it privately or consume it from one of a hundred “me too” providers that cannot both offer it and deliver innovative services of their own. It is a one-way trip that you may well regret. The other mandates interoperability, portability, security, performance and pay-as-you-go, and frees you to pick advanced services that set your applications free. It comes from leading vendors and the open source community. It will outlast any proprietary solution. Pick one.