Citrix goes for cloud push with Cloud.com buy

Virtualisation pioneer Citrix has announced that it is making a major push into what it calls 'the cloud era' with the purchase of Cloud.com for an undisclosed sum thought to be around the $200 million mark.

Announced today, the deal will see Citrix gaining the foothold it needs to enter a market which IDC predicts will exceed $11 billion by the end of 2013: cloud computing.

While the company's various virtualisation products have been used in cloud environments in the past, it wasn't until today's acquisition that Citrix had the convincing portfolio required to take on cloud specialists at their own game.

"As the industry moves into the Cloud Era, Citrix is committed to leading the charge with powerful solutions that make the cloud more open, more secure, and more personal," claimed Citrix president Mark Templeton. "We are delighted to welcome the Cloud.com team to the Citrix family to focus our combined efforts on helping customers of all sizes make a difference in business, and in the lives of their customers and employees."

The deal sees Citrix take over Cloud.com lock, stock, and cumulus, subsuming its entire product line - which centres around a hypervisor-agnostic management system developed in order to allow providers to build private clouds in the same way as services such as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud allow public clouds to be built - and adding it to the existing Citrix virtualisation offering.

In a statement, Cloud.com denied that its acquisition by Citrix would lead to a lack of support for alternative hypervisors. "The Cloud.com product line will continue to support leading commercial hypervisors such as Citrix XenServer and VMware vSphere, as well as open-source hypervisors like Xen," a company spokesperson proclaimed. Additional support is also planned for Microsoft's Hyper-V.

Citrix has also claimed that it is committed to 'a full embrace' of open-source technologies in its push to the 'cloud era'.

"In addition to providing leadership in communities like Xen.org at the virtualisation layer," the company's spokesperson explained, "this acquisition will help Citrix further accelerate its support of OpenStack," referring to the open source cloud infrastructure movement used by over 1,100 developers and over 80 member companies.

While Citrix's purchase of Cloud.com was undoubtedly aimed at getting its hands on CloudStack - the hypervisor-agnostic cloud infrastructure platform for which the company is best known - it also gains some key staff into the bargain. Current Cloud.com chief executive and co-founder Shen Liang is to be kept on as leader of the CloudStack team, reporting to Citrix's Sameer Dholakia who takes on the role of general manager for the newly-formed Cloud Platforms product group.

"Joining forces with Citrix will dramatically accelerate our mission to help customers achieve all the promise cloud computing has to offer, in a way that’s open, secure and efficient," claimed Liang, obviously keen to make a good impression on his new bosses. That's not something with which he should struggle with: before founding Cloud.com, Liang shot to - relative - fame as the lead developer on the original Java Virtual Machine project at Sun Microsystems.

More interestingly, however, is the fact that this isn't the first time Liang has received a bumper payout from Citrix. Back in 2005 Citrix acquired Teros, a company specialising in network security of which Liang was again the co-founder.

Clearly, Liang knows what appeals to Citrix.

Although terms of the deal have not been disclosed, TechCrunch claims that Citrix has shelled out somewhere in the region of $200 million to $250 million on the acquisition.