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Ellen Rubin

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Cloud Wars Heat Up

By John Considine

Last week I wrote about the Cloud.com 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 Cloud.com 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.

More Stories By Ellen Rubin

Ellen Rubin is the CEO and co-founder of ClearSky Data, an enterprise storage company that recently raised $27 million in a Series B investment round. She is an experienced entrepreneur with a record in leading strategy, market positioning and go-to- market efforts for fast-growing companies. Most recently, she was co-founder of CloudSwitch, a cloud enablement software company, acquired by Verizon in 2011. Prior to founding CloudSwitch, Ellen was the vice president of marketing at Netezza, where as a member of the early management team, she helped grow the company to more than $130 million in revenues and a successful IPO in 2007. Ellen holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Harvard University.