I’m often asked what the Citrix answer is to VMware’s glibly named “Open PaaS” platform for next-gen Enterprise apps, which it is developing from its various acquisitions including Spring. Whereas VMware’s PaaS aspirations put it in direct competition with Red Hat’s Makara & Jboss, IBM’s WebSphere, Oracle’s PaaS, to mention but a few, as well as for developer mind-share with language-specific platforms such as Windows Azure and Heroku, Citrix has no intention to offer an app development framework or a PaaS platform per-se. We offer app-delivery infrastructure, and so any Citrix solution must support (all) Java apps, as well as .NET, Ruby, PHP and others.

(As an aside, It’s worth noting that Spring itself is not a PaaS platform. It is a widely used Java application development framework, with a well deserved reputation. So the VMware framework, which to-date appears to be Spring-specific, is too narrow to be broadly relevant, since enterprises have huge installed bases of apps written in Python, .NET, PHP, Ruby, and Java frameworks other than Spring.)

Most enterprise web-based apps will benefit from being migrated to an automated, elastic execution platform with the cost advantages of a dev-ops style cloud. Citrix is an active contributor to OpenStack, an open source, standards based IaaS infrastructure platform. In the same way that we led the industry by commoditizing virtual infrastructure, our goals is to commoditize the building blocks of basic IaaS services, including hypervisor independent compute, Block and Object storage services.

Citrix enriches the basic IaaS infrastructure via its rich cloud networking portfolio, which is available in either appliance or virtual appliance form. This enables us to transform any IaaS, PaaS or SaaS service into an enterprise-class cloud. NetScaler is recognized by Gartner as offering the industry’s leading feature set in the ADC category, including (amongst many other features) L4-7 routing, cloud-bursting, GSLB, PCI Compliance, App Firewalling, WAN Optimization, SSL VPN based app delivery, Auth and Access Control, Single Sign On for Windows/Web/SaaS apps, and Secure L2/L3 bridging from enterprise to cloud infrastructures.

But what about the PaaS platform itself? To be relevant, the journey to PaaS needs to be evolutionary, and so the key need is for a fully integrated, optimized, open, and elastic application platform framework that:
● Extends the data center and the applications that run in these environments to embrace automated elasticity and IaaS infrastructure, while providing full manageability
● Requires no changes to existing applications to fully scale all the tiers of the application
● Provides the broadest support of existing standards, dev frameworks and languages

It is in this context that Citrix has been developing a framework for a rich network layer in OpenStack, together with key ecosystem partners, as well as working with one of the leaders in the delivery of elastic application execution, GigaSpaces, which today announced its membership of OpenStack, together with a powerful solution that integrates Citrix NetScaler with its cloud enabled application platform, CEAP.

Here are some of the specifics behind our collaboration and the announcement today:

  1. GigaSpaces has added an Openstack driver to JClouds, an open source project that provides multi-cloud abstraction for Java applications. This will enable every user in the Java community to run on OpenStack, and to migrate from VMware to OpenStack and visa-versa.
  2. GigaSpaces Service Orchestration Layer has been extended to manage any infrastructure process, including VMs, to support provisioning, elasticity, multi-tenancy, continuous deployment, and elastic scaling, with real-time monitoring. This offers a smooth path for on-boarding any existing application into the cloud without code changes.
  3. Post deployment automation – a key property of dev_ops clouds, including elasticity based on app SLAs – is entirely automated, and in the presence of Citrix NetScaler, tightly couples with the automation of load balancing, GSLB and app-specific enterprise controls such as app firewalling, PCI compliance, secure application access and SSO.

Here’s how you can benefit:

  • Enterprises can use the solution for an Enterprise PaaS layer that is specifically geared for big-data analytics, e-commerce and financial applications, while taking advantage of the commoditized, massively scalable and multi-hypervisor OpenStack.
  • SaaS ISVs can use the solution to SaaS-enable their application and provide the same solution off- and on-premises, with elastic scaling from the enterprise to the cloud.
  • Infrastructure/Cloud providers can use it to offer a richer IaaS service, including database services, queueing, elastic scaling, monitoring and completely automated elastic scaling of the application, using metrics that are application-relevant, and not solely tied to low-level IaaS resources.

What’s the big picture summary? This solution offers truly open PaaS by

  1. Driving openness into the platform (not just the IaaS layer)
  2. Better integrating the IaaS/PaaS layer for better usability and performance, including network provisioning and SLAs, from the PaaS layer
  3. Offering a fully integrated, yet multi-vendor solution
  4. Delivering an enterprise-grade cloud stack that offers
    1. IaaS (based on OpenStack)
    2. PaaS (via GigaSpaces XAP)
    3. Full support for Spring-based applications, as well as for all other Java dev frameworks
    4. Full support for non-Java apps, including .NET.

Additional more detail
GigaSpaces FAQ. Nati Shalom’s blog

And here are a couple of videos on how to use the solution:

  1. Cassandra demo
  2. Elastic Web Apps on the Rackspace Cloud using XAP
  3. Multi cloud Data Grid deployment on AWS.