Citrix is purchasing, making it the first major acquisition in the fledgling cloud operating system space. The deal brings this infrastructure-as-a-service company under the wing of one the three major contenders in the virtualization market.

Citrix’s acquisition of, however, isn’t entirely transparent: Questions still remain as to Citrix’s much-touted commitment to rival cloud operating system OpenStack.

Peder Ulander, chief marketing officer of, said that this acquisition is actually about bridging the gap between existing enterprise cloud-hosting needs and the future of the open-source OpenStack platform.

“We’ve been with OpenStack since day one,” said Ulander. “The first OpenStack guest blog was written by me. There’s definitely been a lot of work to collaborate on the core orchestration pieces of OpenStack. We contributed code for Microsoft Hyper-V support, and worked on the storage frameworks and networking frameworks.”

Ulander went on to state that work at designed to bring OpenStack compatibility into its CloudStack platform has been progressing, but he indicated that the acquisition by Citrix will accelerate that work.

“As a 70-person company, the horizon to do that work is significantly farther out than what it looks like from inside Citrix,” he said. “Having the OpenStack expertise Citrix has, coupled with our guys already focused on putting OpenStack pieces, like Swift, into the next version of CloudStack, those things might have been three, four, even five quarters away. Now we will be able to accelerate that and release that stuff this year.”

Sameer Dholakia, vice president and general manager of the cloud division at Citrix, said that his company sees the purchase as a major new bet on OpenStack. “From the Citrix perspective, we do very much believe this is doubling down on OpenStack,” he said.

“Citrix was a founding member of OpenStack, and we are the second largest contributor to OpenStack. One of the reasons we acquired is that they were uniquely embracing OpenStack, relative to other startups in their space. There are a number of capabilities in the portfolio that are required to run a cloud that just aren’t on the road map yet for OpenStack.

“Just as Xen is the engine and XenServer is the product around that engine, we hope OpenStack will be the engine, over time, and we need to deliver a bunch of capabilities around that.”

While this acquisition is being couched as a validation of OpenStack, other cloud operating system companies aren’t necessarily expecting this move by Citrix to set off a new round of buyouts. Cloud operating systems have become a popular new market this year, but as Reza Malekzadeh, vice president of marketing at Nimbula, put it, “I think this market is still very young. I don’t think any product or model has been completely proven yet. I wouldn’t expect a huge wave [of acquisitions] right now, unless people want to buy catch-up technology.”

Malekzadeh said that Nimbula sees the enterprise market as being in learning mode right now. Despite the popularity of cloud operating systems in the news, he said, “Enterprise people are in total discovery mode. I’m not aware of anyone deploying full-blown private clouds in production. We’re hearing OpenStack here and there, but a lot of it depends on the geography. Overall, people are trying to figure out which is which, and who’s doing what.”

Jay Lyman, analyst for open source at the 451 Group, said that one of the main reasons for’s success to this point has been its multi-vendor approach to sales.

“I talked to recently, and they talked about the success they’ve had from a multi-vendor approach,” he said. “They go into sales engagements arm-in-arm with NetApp and Rackspace and Dell. This multi-vendor approach, I think, has gotten them some traction with customers. It will be interesting to see how much that will continue with Citrix. Those vendors trust each other, and that trust engenders trust from enterprises. I hear less about ‘single throat to choke’ and more about one suite working with another, these days.”

Lyman added that this acquisition expands Citrix’s support for multiple hypervisors. offers support for multiple hypervisors, including Microsoft’s Hyper-V, and he said that this acquisition puts pressure on VMware.

“I guess one of the interesting things about this is this race to open source between VMware and Citrix, two formerly very proprietary virtualization companies,” said Lyman. “It speaks to the power of open source in the cloud. We’re getting to the point where it’s about support for other technologies and other hypervisors.

“I think this is an effective move by Citrix to broaden their hypervisor support. It’ll be interesting to see how they support other hypervisors. I think the ball is in VMware’s court now. They were talking about the lack of a need for the operating system for years. The Red Hat and Novell answers to that was, ‘You can’t build an operating system in the time we can build virtualization infrastructure and management.’ It’s clear there is a need now for the operating system.”