This morning, Citrix announced that it is releasing its CloudStack cloud virtualization platform under the Apache 2 open source license, and transitioning the product as a project under the Apache foundation. About a year ago, I had the opportunity to work with CloudStack as part of the team that deployed KT’s cloud infrastructure, one of the first CloudStack deployments but also one of the first OpenStack deployments.
At KT, CloudStack was implemented for cloud virtualization and the OpenStack object storage system, aka “Swift”, for cloud storage. OpenStack Swift, the technology behind Rackspace Cloud Files, had just been open sourced by Rackspace under the Apache 2 license. So it was a deployment that combined a closed-source cloud virtualization platform with OpenStack Swift. The result was an integrated cloud compute and cloud storage service that is now offered to KT’s end customers.
It’s exciting to see Citrix announce that they are not only releasing the entire CloudStack product under Apache 2, but also starting the process of putting the project under the umbrella of the Apache Foundation. I think bringing the project under the more permissive Apache 2 open source license structure will set the stage for a broader ecosystem to emerge around the project. The CloudStack team has also recently announced support for OpenStack Swift and I’m in support of opening up their project further.
Open Source is a good thing
Deciding to open source under the Apache 2 license is a natural step for CloudStack. While a version of CloudStack has been available under the GPL, it was never a very active community and the delta with the version used by most customers, such as KT, made a difference. By deciding to open source the entire product, CloudStack joins with OpenStack and Eucalyptus to offer strong, viable open source based solutions to the proprietary alternatives in the cloud infrastructure space.
So what may this mean for the OpenStack projects? In the short term there will be many opinions, but in the long term it is a net positive: OpenStack Swift will now have the support of one more open source cloud virtualization platform sharing the liberal Apache 2 license. Swift has been complementary to CloudStack, and will be even more so going forward.
For the OpenStack project as a whole, which has some overlap with CloudStack, developers and organizations now have one more open source alternative to consider. As in the KT example, organizations select combinations of technology that meet their particular requirements, which will differ by use-case and industry. While the OpenStack project has made tremendous progress – both on the underlying technology and by creating a huge ecosystem of developers and contributors, there will be use-cases where CloudStack may be an option to consider. Ultimately, end-users and developers will decide which they prefer.
For CloudStack to succeed as an open source project, it needs a significant engagement from its community, which does not come overnight from just changing the licensing terms. Building a community takes time, effort and engagement. When companies like ours decide to build their business on top of an open source project, great things can happen. For example, this week we pushed a 1000-line contribution improving monitoring for OpenStack Swift, which was an enhancement that will benefit all OpenStack Swift users. For CloudStack to succeed as an open source project in its new home, it needs to get the same level of engagement from its community.
SwiftStack + Cloudstack
SwiftStack’s focus is to make OpenStack Swift the best object storage system available. This includes making it easy for organizations to deploy, manage and scale. While our customers tend to make decisions on their cloud virtualization platform separately from storage (many “just” virtualize; some prefer bare metal), when combined, CloudStack and SwiftStack are highly complementary.
The customers we work with like OpenStack Swift as they are trying to solve data storage problems, and don’t want to keep putting data into expensive, proprietary storage systems or services where their data is locked-in or out of their control. With cloud virtualization platforms like CloudStack and OpenStack Compute, the same is true. Open source becomes a great way to deliver cloud infrastructure solutions to customers since they can take advantage of not just the technology itself, but the ecosystem of tools, services and solutions around it.
In all, we see CloudStack as another avenue for OpenStack Swift to efficiently meet organizations’ storage needs. And in that respect, we look forward to working with the CloudStack team.