Cloud Computing

This past weekend, chatting about how far the cloud has come over drinks with friends, I had the opportunity to celebrate a milestone – the one year anniversary since we were acquired by Citrix.  Reflecting back over this past year, I’m happy to report that our relationship, and the Citrix cloud strategy as a whole, have more than lived up to our hopes and expectations. It has been a thrilling year—and for all the progress we’ve made so far, and we are just getting started.

We had good reason to be optimistic about joining Citrix. For one thing, it has long been cited as one of the best places to work in the Valley. Even more significant from our perspective was the company’s clear vision and commitment to positioning itself around the cloud. By weaving our CloudStack software into its portfolio as part of a complete, integrated set of cloud technologies, Citrix would help us realize our own vision and take it further than we even could on our own.

Most importantly, we’ve completed our first year as part of Citrix with our core beliefs intact and fully supported by management:

  • The cloud requires a fundamentally new, purpose-built architecture, and can’t simply be cobbled together from last-generation technologies.
  • Open source, the core of the cloud revolution, has grown beyond being simply a follower movement focused on commoditizing existing technologies. It now plays a leadership role in the industry, providing a foundation for new growth and setting the agenda for a new wave of innovation.
  • Heterogeneity in APIs matters. We made this bet back as a standalone company and have been able to continue that practice here at Citrix.  This why we continue to deliver technologies for both Citrix and other virtualization platforms, and it’s why we’ve aligned with Amazon, the de facto standard for cloud APIs.
  • Cloud computing is by nature bottom-up, driven by developers and lines of business to improve their success, rather than being imposed arbitrarily from above.
  • Production success and real data trump hype. We don’t sign customers just to add names to a list; we do it to make a difference in their business, and we measure our own success by the success we enable for them.

From many, one

One of the main reasons for our success has been the attitude of Citrix toward acquisitions. For years, Citrix has focused on not only buying technologies and lines of business, but also bringing talented individuals into the company with their personalities and culture intact, and engaging, promoting and empowering them. Just look at Citrix CEO Mark Templeton’s executive staff: they’ve almost all come from acquired companies.

It’s not just the anniversary of the acquisition; it’s also the first birthday of the Citrix cloud team. Once again, Citrix created a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts, taking leaders from five different companies acquired in recent years—XenSource, NetScaler, VMLogix, EMS-Cortex and—and blending them into a cohesive group aligned around a single focus: powering enterprise clouds.

Building a better cloud

Together, we’ve achieved important milestones over the past year. Foremost among these is the integration of all Citrix products into an end-to-end cloud stack, but we’re equally excited about the results this has delivered. We’ve tripled the number of CloudStack deployments since joining Citrix, expanding beyond our original base of service providers to reach new customers in government, education and the enterprise. We’ve also signed up and engaged with far more partners than we could have managed without the support of the Citrix partner and support organizations.

We’ve also made some really important business decisions at Citrix.. Imagine asking the company who just acquired you to give your core technology to a third party. That’s what we did when we contributed CloudStack to the Apache Foundation as a project, giving up both control and copyright. It was the right thing to do, preserving the open source model that is so essential for cloud success. The large, open Apache community ensures that customers won’t get locked into technology decisions made elsewhere, but will be able to participate directly in innovation and help move the cloud forward. In turn, these innovations can be brought back into the Citrix cloud offering, accelerating the introduction of new services and benefits for our customers.

At the same time, we also moved away from OpenStack. Citrix had been one of the first supporters of the project, but we ultimately determined that the technology wasn’t there, the governance model was wrong and it just wasn’t truly open. Once again, this move was supported across the company.

Our strategy bore fruit last spring, with the release of Citrix CloudPlatform, the first commercially supported cloud orchestration system based on Apache CloudStack. Combining true open source technology with broad support for service providers and other customers, we believe CloudPlatform is now the definitive solution for building production cloud environments designed for economics, elasticity and scale.

The view from here

A few years ago, we recognized that service providers would respond to a hosted outsource, pay-as-you-go cloud model, and we moved aggressively to establish a leadership position in that market. Soon, customers began to emulate Amazon by building their own private clouds on CloudStack—initially traditional tech companies, and soon new entrants from fast-emerging markets like mobile app development, social media and gaming. As in the transition from mainframe to client/server, companies are moving more and more workloads to the new platform, building application-specific clouds behind the firewall for test, data, disaster recover, desktops-as-a-service—the list grows on as momentum builds. CloudPlatform now integrates support for large-scale deployments of our Project Avalon, which transforms any Windows app or desktop into a cloud service delivered across any network to any device.

Over the past year, we’ve seen the Citrix vision for the cloud echoed by stakeholders throughout the industry, from customers to analysts to partners to the open source community. As the market continues to evolve and new opportunities take shape, we’re confident in the strategy, execution and results that have brought us this far. And we can’t wait to see what the next year brings.