Citrix Buys VMLogix — It’s All About the Hybrid Cloud

In an announcement timed to steal some attention away from VMware’s (s vmw) VMworld event starting today, Citrix (s ctsx) said it will acquire VMLogix to help enterprises utilize clouds without fear of vendor lock-in. The deal gives Citrix more than just the vendor agnosticism Citrix touts in the press release: it also lets its Xen-hypervisor-using customers build their own infrastructure-as-a-service offerings that can span private and public clouds.

VMLogix provides a management console for cloud deployment, allowing users to automate and manage the provisioning of both internal and external cloud resources. Citrix intends to include the VMLogix console within its OpenCloud platform to provide a complete cloud management offering that works across different products, including Microsoft’s (s msft) Hyper-v, Xen and VMware’s own virtualization offerings.

This acquisition, and the broader OpenCloud initiative, is in response to the demand from enterprises for a hybrid approach toward cloud computing (the desire to manage and automate provisioning of systems regardless of where they are: on-premise, public cloud, or a combination of the two).

It’s a busy area. I recently covered Adaptive Computing, a company that offers similar software and will soon announce a Series A funding led by none other than Intel Capital (s intc). In my post, I detailed the significant funding and acquisition activity in the space; we also recently covered Joyent’s aquisition of Layerboom. All this activity is indicative of the jockeying for position in what is set to become the massive hybrid cloud automation space.

What’s interesting about the Citrix OpenCloud approach is its complete vendor agnosticism. It allows enterprise customers to manage a mix of public and private cloud services from a single management console, even if they use these services from diverse cloud providers. In commenting on the acquisition, and the broader OpenCloud strategy, Wes Wesson, chief strategy officer for Citrix said:

What we hear continually from corporate customers in this space is, first I want the economics and elasticity of the cloud today in my existing data center… Second I want the flexibility to move workloads as it makes sense between private and public clouds, with security and performance assured. And third I want the flexibility to change and move providers.

The VMLogix acquisition and the general OpenCloud initiative are helping meet these objectives. Strategically, the move allows Citrix to shift focus somewhat away from their own infrastructure products and services, and gain market share providing a solution-agnostic management level that sits atop discreet infrastructure offerings. Citrix has also come out in support of OpenStack, the Rackspace (s rax) and NASA-led grouping working on open-source tools designed to ease the multiple cloud vendor management pain. At VMWorld, Citrix will demonstrate the ability to manage workloads across XenServer running as both on-premise and virtual machines running in an OpenStack-managed public cloud, all from within a single management console.

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Ben Kepes is an independent consultant and contributing writer for GigaOM. Please see his disclosure statement in his bio.