Cloud Computing | Feature

With Acquisition, Citrix Enhances Its Cloud Offering for Higher Education

The purchase of Cloud.com has helped Citrix round out its offering of custom cloud solutions that will appeal to colleges and universities.

With cloud computing looming as the next big thing in higher education, Citrix Systems' recent acquisition of Cloud.com, an open source cloud computing platform, will have caught the attention of university CIOs nationwide. The move bolsters Citrix's cloud infrastructure portfolio by giving customers virtualization, orchestration, and networking solutions that are designed and built specifically for the new cloud era.

Cloud.com is the developer of CloudStack, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) software platform that simplifies the process of building, deploying, and managing a cloud computing environment. As opposed to traditional enterprise server virtualization platforms where cloud management is layered on top, Cloud.com's product is designed to help users design and create a cloud infrastructure from the ground up. As a result, customers have the ability to choose the hardware, software, management products, and service providers they want—an important consideration for CIOs leery of getting locked in with any one vendor.

For higher education institutions, the benefits of moving to a cloud service range from handling heavy server traffic during registration (traffic which invariably drops to a trickle after registration ends) to managing software and data across multiple campuses.

"Cloud computing delivers a radically more efficient and cost-effective method for delivering IT services to end users," says Peder Ulander, VP of product marketing in Citrix's newly formed Cloud Platforms Group. "This is hugely important in higher education and we have seen great traction with wins like Hokkaido University in Japan. It will use this model for providing IT resources to researchers across Japan on an on-demand basis."

Building a custom-designed cloud system that is automated, elastic, and scalable from the get-go is significantly faster and cheaper than trying to retrofit an existing server system, claims Ulander. And the addition of Cloud.com's software platform now gives Citrix the ability to offer this custom service to colleges and universities.

"Our XenServer, XenDesktop, and NetScaler platforms are already widely deployed as the infrastructure of choice for cloud-era data center build-outs," notes Ulander. "Cloud.com adds to this portfolio with an orchestration and management platform that ties everything together. For universities and colleges looking to extend their IT services strategy to the cloud, Citrix will have an open, flexible, and advanced architecture that will enable them to quickly deploy and be successful."

Like most industry watchers, Ulander sees more and more colleges and universities moving toward cloud infrastructure and shaping the development of cloud technology. "Universities are already utilizing the cloud for many efforts,” he says. "For some, it is an extension of the HPTC space they are already heavily vested in, including file storage, research modeling, developer platforms, desktop, e-mail, and user services. In many cases, the first cloud software platforms were launched in academia—the University of Barcelona, University of California, Santa Barbara, University of Chicago, and Clemson University all have major stakes in cloud platforms."

The rapid growth of cloud technology has spawned a global open source community of developers, researchers, technologists, and corporations. Both Citrix and Cloud.com have fully embraced open source as an essential element of cloud computing.

"The Cloud.com product line will continue to support leading open source hypervisors like Xen, as well as commercial hypervisors like Citrix XenServer and VMware vSphere," confirms Ulander. "Citrix will also be adding support for a range of Microsoft platforms and solutions, including Hyper-V and System Center, and a full range of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) development environments, storage and server hardware, and management systems."

Citrix is a founding member—and the second largest contributor to—OpenStack, an open source cloud computing platform for public and private clouds. With the acquisition of Cloud.com, which was also a contributor to the project, the company plans to increase its support of OpenStack.

About the Author

Jennifer Skelly is a freelance journalist and screenwriter based in Los Angeles, CA.

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