Citrix CTO validates the VMware SpringSource acquisition

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So far VMware didn’t do a good job in explaining the reasons behind the SpringSource acquisition and how it fits the long term vision.

The ones that attended the VMworld 2009 conference in San Francisco last month, witnessed how many in the audience left the opening keynote as soon as the SpringSource CEO took the stage.
That was something never happened before (except for the sponsored sections at the end of the VMworld Europe 2009 first keynote).

Now that the acquisition is completed, hopefully VMware will say something more and more concrete to engage its audience.

Meanwhile, somebody totally unexpected took the time to explain this acquisition much better than what the VMware marketing did till now: Simon Crosby, the Citrix CTO of Virtualization and Management Division.

Crosby is the Citrix most popular spokesperson when talking about virtualization. 
Some people in the industry know him because of his role as founder of XenSource but most people know communication style, which is “atypical” to say the least.

If you ever read or heard Crosby you won’t expect him to defend a competitor like VMware.
And this time he didn’t do that on purpose for sure. Quite the opposite he was trying to clarify a major difference between how VMware and Citrix view the role of the hypervisor, the virtual data center, and the OSes inside it.

Yet, one of his last articles validates in a very straightforward way the tremendous importance of frameworks like SpringSource in the virtualization universe:

…Is this the end of the OS? Not at all. Today’s IT practice is still OS centric and is only partially down the path toward adoption of a virtual infrastructure hosting virtualized traditional OSes that run the apps. The rate of change will be dominated by the rate of change of human skill sets, and not just the rate of technology development.

In the medium term, however, there looms a challenge to today’s OS vendor business models, licensing schemes and even their brands. Our notion of the OS must evolve beyond a narrow historical view – that of a run-time environment that back in the ’90s used to execute on a single physical server. Customers will want an operational platform that embraces, pools, shares and isolates hardware resources, virtualizing them and offering multiple tenants the ability to securely gain access to guaranteed resources for their applications, with granular accounting. And, crucially, with no bias toward the specific set of (traditional) app-facing services offered by the (traditional) OS. A well-virtualized infrastructure couldn’t care less whether you run your apps on Windows or Linux. It makes resources available subject to an application level service requirement, then quietly gets on with its job – providing guaranteed resources with absolute security.

If IaaS clouds are the new server vendors, then the OS meets the server when the user runs an app in the cloud. That radically changes the business model for the OS vendor. But is the OS then simply a runtime for an application? The OS vendors would rightly quibble with that. The OS is today the locus of innovation in applications, and its rich primitives for the development and support of multi-tiered apps that span multiple servers on virtualized infrastructure is an indication of the future of the OS itself: Just as the abstraction of hardware has extended over multiple servers, so will the abstraction of the application support and runtime layers. Unlike my friends at VMware who view virtualization as the “New OS” I view the New OS as the trend toward an app isolation abstraction that is independent of hardware: the emergence of Platform as a Service.

Anyone can build a hypervisor. In fact, it’s been a solved problem for years. But a hypervisor in an OS is not enough. What’s needed is two new abstractions: Virtual Infrastructure that spans multiple servers/networks/storage, and an application platform that seamlessly spans multiple servers/storage/networks…

Update: Simon Crosby answered to this article on the Citrix corporate blog. Easily to expect his answer is: No I really didn’t…