Today, Citrix announced the General Availability of CloudPlatform 4.3—a cloud orchestration and provisioning platform for desktop, web and datacenter infrastructure workloads.  As CloudPlatform steams ahead with new features and over 300 production deployments, enterprise and service provider customers alike are looking to Citrix partners for solutions to augment their cloud environments and accelerate adoption.

Diversity at the Infrastructure Layer

The ability to interoperate with a variety of third party datacenter components is critical in real world deployments. ”While some cloud environments may support a very small set of applications, most cloud environments – private or hosted – need to support a wide diversity of allocation” offers Omid Meshkin, author of Intel’s blog on CloudPlatform 4.3. The blog  highlights how Citrix CloudPlatform enables speedy user on-ramps by offering diversity in infrastructure support.  But customers want to leverage best-of-breed infrastructure components not only at the compute layer, but at the storage and networking layers as well. Aaron Delp from the Citrix CloudPlatform team highlights in his blog a new Cisco Validated Design (CVD) for Citrix CloudPlatform running on FlexPod.  FlexPod is a converged infrastructure solution based on NetApp storage systems, Cisco Unified Computing System servers, and Cisco Nexus fabric.  Continuing with this theme of “choice and interoperability”, CloudPlatform 4.3 also introduces support for Contrail, Juniper’s open SDN solution. Juniper submitted a plug-in for Contrail to Apache CloudStack in the 4.3 code tree. The Juniper solution enables the creation of highly scalable virtual networks that integrate with physical networks in and easy to manage fashion.  To learn more about Juniper Contrail on CloudPlatform, see “Contrail Joins List of Citrix Ready Software with Citrix CloudPlatform 4.3 Release”.

Hypervisor Choice

Moving up the stack from infrastructure components to the hypervisor, one of the highlights of the CloudPlatform 4.3 release is the introduction of support for Microsoft Hyper-V. CloudPlatform supports VMware vSphere, KVM, XenServer, and now, Hyper-V. “The ability to run a Windows workload on a Microsoft hypervisor, in the context of  popular cloud orchestration layer … is a choice that will appeal to customers”, calls out Microsoft technical evangelist, Marc Kuperstein, in his  blog “The collision of two worlds–CloudPlatform announces support for Microsoft Hyper-V”. CloudPlatform customers that use Hyper-V will have infrastructure components and software solutions from Citrix partners to support their choice. At the storage layer, Citrix partner, GridStore, offers a solution that is purpose-built for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V. Kelly Murphy, CTO of Gridstore, describes in his post, “Citrix and Gridstore – Built for the Cloud”,  how Gridstore storage dynamically optimizes and accelerates I/O, enabling service providers to deliver guaranteed service levels. Customers also have choice at the application layer. Enterprises can leverage Apprenda PaaS on CloudPlatform to enjoy a completely managed and seamless private/hybrid cloud orchestration experience that supports cloud-enabled .NET applications. For further information, see “Citrix CloudPlatform 4.3 and Apprenda: Making Enterprise Cloud Real” on the Apprenda blog site.   Chip Childers, VP of Product Strategy for Cumulogic and former VP for Apache CloudStack, points out in his blog that more and more.NET developers are adopting Linux-based back-end services like MongoDB, Couchbase, and Memcached. Adding CumuLogic to a CloudPlatform environment can reduce risk for Windows developers by providing the Linux-based offerings “as a service” within the context of private cloud based on CloudPlatform.

Support for Workloads of All Types

At the top of the CloudPlatform stack are application workloads—cloud native workloads or traditional enterprise workloads. A significant feature of CloudPlatform 4.3 is native support for Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix XenApp workloads.  Allan Andersen, from CA Nimsoft, writes about this in his blog “Clouds and End-user Computing – A match made in heaven!”   “I’m happy to see Citrix make good on their vision of optimized infrastructure for application and desktop delivery to further drive down CAPEX and OPEX for customers and service providers with Citrix XenDesktop 7.5” says Allan.  “With the release of Citrix CloudPlatform 4.3 all the pieces are in place for Citrix to showcase the benefits of cloud infrastructure for their own workloads”.  George Reese, Executive Director for Dell Cloud Manager reminds us in his blog post how Dell (Enstratius) and Citrix (cloud.com) have partnered together since the early days of the cloud era to enable customers to choose where and how to deploy various workloads. “When you combine the infrastructure choices that Citrix CloudPlatform enables with the cloud choices that Dell Cloud Manager enables” says George, “you end up with a proven, comprehensive public and private cloud computing strategy that avoids vendor lock-in.  You can then feel free to make the decision of where your cloud workloads go based on the performance and compliance needs of the workloads, not the whims of a virtualization or public cloud vendor.”

A Growing, Vibrant Partner Ecosystem

Just as CloudPlatform is growing in terms of feature set and deployments, the Citrix partner ecosystem is also experiencing growth. In the past several months, Citrix has welcomed over 50 new partner solutions into the Citrix Ready program. Citrix Ready is a designation awarded to third-party partners that have successfully met test criteria set by Citrix indicating joint solution compatibility. The Citrix Ready program currently incorporates more than 25,000 product verifications and over 800 partners.  Some of the partners who have recently certified products for CloudPlatform include Appcore, Gridstore, Hillstone Networks, Juniper, SolidFire, and X-IO. Appcore, a Citrix Service Provider (CSP), provides architecture, configuration, installation, training and support for Citrix CloudPlatform. Appcore has been supporting CloudStack prior to the Citrix acquisition of cloud.com in 2011, points out Nate Gordon, Director of Technology, in his blog post. Appcore’s AMP platform is now Citrix Ready certified, providing management for both public and private cloud environments, incorporating a simple user interface for administrators, and integrating with add-ons such as billing and support ticketing. Partner, Hillstone Networks, announced certification of the Hillstone Networks Data Center Firewall solution. Hillstone Networks builds next-gen firewalls to protect against Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) and zero-day attacks. The Hillstone Data Center Firewall can be deployed on Citrix CloudPlatform as a virtual firewall resource, managed and allocated on-demand for each data center tenant. Citrix storage partner, SolidFire, recently added their SF9010 storage array to the matrix of SolidFire products certified for CloudPlatform. Mike Tutkowski from SolidFire is a member of the Apache CloudStack Project Management Committee and active in the open source community. Mike’s blog “Solid Storage Progress With CloudPlatform 4.3″ hints at some upcoming work in Apache CloudStack 4.4 around a storage framework that will be discussed at the upcoming CloudStack Collaboration Conference in Denver, April 9-11, 2014.

New partners are clearly an indicator of the health of the CloudPlatform ecosystem. But the engagement of existing partners within the CloudPlatform ecosystem, continued support of the platform in terms of new development, and the deals that the partners are winning are also measures of a thriving community centered on CloudPlatform.  John Wetherill, Developer Evangelist for ActiveState Stackato, highlights in his blog “Orchestrating the Cloud for Success” a new auto scaling plugin for CloudPlatform. When this auto scaling capability is enabled, Stackato will dynamically adjust the number of running applications in response to the load on the application and the application performance.  Paul Speciale, CMO for Appcara,  ponders in his blog post how the growth of the cloud industry, as indicated by the shift toward cloud-based deployment of complex, mission-critical apps, drives the need for platforms such as Appcara AppStack which streamline packaging, deployment and management of  multi-tier enterprise applications.  Citrix and Appcara recently published a  case study on CloudPlatform with cloud service provider, SSI.  “We are enabling our customers with huge leaps in productivity by reducing cloud application packaging, deployment from two weeks to two hours – including for Citrix XenDesktop. The power of the integration of Citrix CloudPlatform and AppStack is making that possible.” (Rich Wein, CEO, SSI).  Jon Noble from Trend Micro discusses,  in his blog “Citrix CloudPlatform 4.3 and Deep Security 9.5 – Building Open, Scalable and Secure Clouds”, the need for cloud security solutions to be context aware. Trend Micro’s Deep Security 9.5 (in beta) and its companion product SecureCloud, provide anti-malware, firewall, IDS/IPS, web application protection, integrity monitoring, log inspection, and encryption technologies in a single integrated solution.

In Summary

Why is the release of CloudPlatform 4.3 and the growth and vibrancy of the CloudPlatform partner ecosystem significant for cloud customers? CloudPlatform’s continued focus on interoperability and support for a wide variety of partner hardware and software solutions ensures that customers who choose the platform have a roadmap for success. Long-time CloudStack/CloudPlatform partner, Scalr, says it best in their blog.   “CloudPlatform supports desktop workloads, traditional enterprise application workloads and cloud native workloads all with a single integrated platform…customers who have selected it are successful and easier to support”, offers Sebastian Stadil founder of Scalr. “We remain impressed by the fact that CloudStack is not just a project but a product.”