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Last week I wrote about the acquisition and what it means for Citrix, Rackspace, OpenStack and the industry. Next, I’d like to dig into the VMware announcement about their cloud infrastructure suite. Citrix clearly wanted to announce their news just prior to VMware’s, and for a good reason – Citrix is hitting VMware in a weak spot of their cloud strategy.  It’s pretty clear that VMware is not getting the vCloud adoption they were anticipating from service providers and even enterprises.

In Paul Maritz’s presentation, he mentioned that VMware “…has been working closely with service providers because you need the same stacks on both sides [the private cloud and public cloud] to be able to ‘slide’ applications to the cloud…and back again.”  At CloudSwitch we are dedicated to the notion that you don’t have to have identical infrastructure stacks between the data center and the cloud.  You have to expect that what a cloud provider chooses will not necessarily be the same as what the enterprise has chosen, or that they will work together in lock-step.  VMware seems committed to the strategy that they will provide the complete solution on both sides of the cloud, and that all parties will work together to stay coordinated. This is very different from Citrix’s positioning around more open and heterogeneous solutions.

Citrix and VMware have been competing in the virtualization space for years with a battle of features (mostly Citrix catching up with VMware and trying to gain share in the enterprise virtualization market), but the scope of the competition has been growing thanks to cloud computing.  Cloud computing expands the server virtualization fight from hypervisor features to integrated stacks for deploying/managing infrastructure.  The hypervisors remain important, but the new frontier contains everything from core networking to storage management, to large scale deployments to self-service IT.  In this new battle, Citrix has some real strength in networking (Netscaler, etc.) and application delivery, and with their acquisition, they are capturing some proven orchestration technologies.

VMware is investing huge resources to expand their cloud offerings (Maritz claims a million man hours). Their focus is on adding features to their hypervisor and layers to their stack (vSphere+vCenter SRM+vCenter Operations+vShield+vCloud Director).  They have lots of expertise in this area and direct interaction with enterprise customers and requirements. On the service provider side, they are dependent on feedback from VMware-based partners to provide input and learn how to build and run large-scale infrastructure clouds. We’ll have to see how this approach plays out vs. Citrix’s CloudStack.

In the end, this competition is great for all of us as well as for CloudSwitch specifically.  The competition in the cloud space will continue to drive innovation, new features, and simplification of deployment for this great new platform called cloud computing.  CloudSwitch is all about choice and giving enterprises control and flexibility in their cloud architectures.  As the world of cloud computing evolves, we love to see different options, technologies, and capabilities – because a world filled with different cloud choices needs a CloudSwitch to connect all of the pieces.

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More Stories By John Considine

John Considine is Co-Founder & CTO of Cloudswitch. He brings two decades of technology vision and proven experience in complex enterprise system development, integration and product delivery to CloudSwitch. Before founding CloudSwitch, he was Director of the Platform Products Group at Sun Microsystems, where he was responsible for the 69xx virtualized block storage system, 53xx NAS products, the 5800 Object Archive system, as well as the next generation NAS portfolio.

Considine came to Sun through the acquisition of Pirus Networks, where he was part of the early engineering team responsible for the development and release of the Pirus NAS product, including advanced development of parallel NAS functions and the Segmented File System. He has started and boot-strapped a number of start-ups with breakthrough technology in high-performance distributed systems and image processing. He has been granted patents for RAID and distributed file system technology. He began his career as an engineer at Raytheon Missile Systems, and holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.