En garde!

Apache CloudStack graduates, but is it qualified to challenge OpenStack?

Nearly 12 months after being donated by Citrix, Apache Cloudstack has graduated from the Apache Foundation’s “incubation” stage.

The news means that the cloud infrastructure manager holds a strong enough community to be set free from the Apache Incubator, and adheres the open source rules to the Apache Software Foundation.

Unlike many burgeoning Apache projects, CloudStack already has a mature codebase behind it and is currently in use in production. Originally developed by Cloud.com, the software suite which can spin out and manage IaaS instances was acquired by Citrix in July 2011.

The following month, Citrix released CloudStack 3.0 under a GPLv3 license, removing the remaining 5% proprietary code in the project. At the same time, it also unveiled support for OpenStack’s storage component Swift. However, Citrix’s submission to the ASF in April 2012 meant a quick reversal to these changes, switching to the Apache v2 license and cutting all ties to the rival OpenStack project.

Having taken the dramatic decision to fully open source CloudStack, Citrix’s work since has been dedicated to fostering a community and freeing the project from its shackles to the company. VP of Products Kevin Kluge reflects on the Apache transition process in a blog post, suggesting that the CloudStack’s future was “limited” with few outside contributors and an undefined governance model.

“We believed the structure of the ASF separated the funding of the foundation from the influence on the project, explained Kluge. “We knew that the ASF had a clear process for project entry and incubation / maturation, and it had mentors that would step forward and help the evolving community learn to work like an Apache project.”

Kluge admitted he was surprised at the rate vendors expressed interest in the project once it had entered the ASF and believes that CloudStack will only grow faster once a fully-fledged top-level project. The project looks to be heading on the right track, with data from open source analyser Ohloh showing steady growth in contributors over the past few months.

The project’s greatest challenge now is gaining ground on OpenStack, both in terms of media attention and active contributors. It will need commercial vendors, too, to break into the corporate space.

CloudStack has been proven to scale well in production environments and holds an impressive list of clients using the software, like service providers GoDaddy and Datapipe. Following Apache’s seal of approval, as well as a new stable release, that number should skyrocket.

The next release of the project, Apache CloudStack 4.1 is expected imminently, bringing with it functionality akin to AWS-style Regions. With OpenStack Grizzly due at the beginning of the April, the race for cloud infrastructure supremacy just got that much hotter.

Image courtesy of uwdigitalcollections

Chris Mayer

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