When Citrix Systems (NASDAQ: CTXS) unveils financial results on Jan. 30, keep a close eye on the company's CloudStack strategy and milestones. Most channel partners are familiar with Citrix's virtualization, mobility, collaboration and IT support platforms. But CloudStack represents a new battlefront -- one that involves the hearts and minds of emerging cloud services providers (CSPs) and private cloud builders.

CloudStack is an open source cloud computing platform. It allows CSPs and businesses to create, manage and deploy infrastructure cloud services. Citrix in April 2012 donated CloudStack to the Apache Software Foundation, and the software platform is widely viewed as an alternative to OpenStack.

Granted, CloudStack isn't a material revenue generator for Citrix. But it's still strategic to the software company's future. In an ideal scenario for Citrix, CSPs that leverage CloudStack will also embrace Citrix's XenServer hypervisor -- though CloudStack also supports Oracle VM, KVM and vSphere. (Where is Microsoft Hyper-V on that list? We're checking.)

Worth Noting

Though OpenStack seems to have superior mind share, research from Chinese blogger Qingye "John" Jiang suggests momentum is building for CloudStack.

Sebastien Goasguen, a blogger who tracks cloud and grid computing, has documented at least two CloudStack momentum stories -- including:

But how is Citrix feeling about CloudStack's recent progress and long-term direction? We may get some clues during the Jan. 30 earnings call. And more clues could emerge during ApacheCon NA 2013 (Feb. 28-30, Portland, Oregon). Joe Brockmeier, a CloudStack expert who is an open source cloud computing evangelist at Citrix, will educate attendees about the basics of Apache CloudStack, and how to start a small test deployment.