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Verizon Terremark backs Xen-CloudStack combo for clouds

Can you hear me now, VMware ESXi and vCloud?

Hot on the heels of the open source Xen hypervisor being moved over to the Linux Foundation as an official collaborative project, Citrix Systems, which has controlled the Xen community as well as the open source CloudStack cloud controller that is one of the viable alternatives to OpenStack, has scored the Terremark cloud subsidiary of telco giant Verizon as an enthusiastic backer of both Xen and CloudStack.

The news about Xen and CloudStack comes right smack dab in the middle of the OpenStack Summit, which is going on in Portland, Oregon this week, and that is no doubt not an accident.

The announcement by Terremark was made in a blog post by Chris Drumgoole, senior vice president of global operations at the hosting and cloud subsidiary of the telco. And it looks like Terremark has caught the open source and open standards bugs.

"Verizon Terremark has long been supportive of open standards; however, now is the right time for us to get formally involved in the open-standard ecosystem," explained Drumgoole. "Our support and investment reflects our desire to see the cloud market mature quickly and provide businesses with cloud-based offerings that address specific needs like performance, cost and flexibility."

This is the first time that Terremark has invested in developing code and supporting open source projects directly, and as part of its move to embrace Xen, Terremark is kicking funds to the Linux Foundation to support that hypervisor and is joining the foundation as an advisory board member.

Citrix bought Cloud.com, which had created its own cloud control freak, back in July 2011, and opened up the code a month later. The company joined the OpenStack community, but decided after OpenStack was not making a strong enough commitment to supporting the APIs of Amazon Web Services to go its own way and donate CloudStack to the Apache community.

One way of looking at it is that Citrix has let go of both Xen and CloudStack sufficiently that a company like Verizon Terremark can feel comfortable not only supporting open source projects, but supporting these two in particular when momentum is clearly shifting towards OpenStack and KVM in a lot of ways.

An equally plausible and not incompatible interpretation of the adoption of Xen and CloudStack by Terremark is that some companies do not want or need a cloud based on VMware's ESXi hypervisor and its vCloud extensions, as the Enterprise Cloud that Terremark has spent years building, and that is running in several data centers around the globe, is.

Terremark does not provide pricing for its Enterprise Cloud, but is widely perceived to be expensive relative to Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Cloud, both of which are based on open source hypervisor and controller technologies.

AWS has its own variant of Xen and its own cloud controller, while Rackspace is using the OpenStack controller it helped create and the XenServer commercial-grade hypervisor from Citrix for its public cloud and KVM on its private cloud.

To compete with AWS and Rackspace (and other cloud providers), Terremark is going to have to pull a Rackspace and invest in open source technologies.

The wonder is why Terremark did not pick OpenStack and KVM, but the decision could have been made on the technical merits and on Verizon wanting a tighter relationship with Citrix for the many other kinds of software it makes for virtualizing desktops and managing mobile applications, for instance. ®

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