Eucalyptus updates cloud platform in open source mold

Marten Mickos - CEO, Eucalyptus Systems - Future of Cloud panel at Structure 2011
Eucalyptus, the cloud platform company that wants to bridge corporate private clouds to the Amazon cloud(s amzn), is updating its platform software to bring it more in line with the open source model.
CEO Marten Mickos said the latest release of the Eucalyptus cloud platform cements its status as a champion of open source development but does not do much to further the promise of Amazon API compatibility. That will come in the 3.2 release due at the end of the year, he said.
“The 3.1 release marks our full commitment to open source. We did away with different editions — now it’s just the Eucalyptus cloud platform all free and open source, all hosted on Github. Not just the code contributions but the bug databases, and we’ve made it easy to integrate with other products, easier to build plug-ins and tools atop our platform,” Mickos told me last week.
Functionally, the company also improved performance, stability and added a new FastStart process to speed up private cloud deployments. The company will provide plug-ins and support for paying subscribers. “If you want to run this integrated with VMware you need plug-in and you’ll pay for that but it’s not a separate edition,” he said.
The company made a big splash in March when it announced — with Amazon —  that it would support of Amazon’s key APIs, easing interoperability between a business’s internal private cloud and Amazon’s public cloud. Specifically it will support the Amazon EC2, S3, EBS and IAM (identity and access management) APIs, but most of that work won’t surface until release 3.2 due at the end of the year, Mickos said.

The Amazon API hue and cry

Given the popularity of the Amazon public cloud model with developers and consumers (if not all IT departments) and that private cloud is the preferred mode of cloud computing for IT pros, technologies that bridge those worlds safely and efficiently could be much in demand.  The Eucalyptus-Amazon pairing was thus been viewed by many as a way to make Amazon Web Services palatable to business accounts and a way for Eucalyptus to bask in the reflected glow of Amazon’s success. It was also seen as a counter move to the OpenStack forces including Rackspace (s rax) lining up around that technology for private and public cloud deployment.
But the whole notion of cloning or relying on Amazon APIs is controversial. Last week John Engates, CTO of Rackspace, warned attendees of the Open Data Center Alliance Forecast Conference that cloning Amazon’s APIs is a continuous game of catch-up, not a way to innovate. “The idea that cloning the Amazon API will solve everything is ridiculous,” he said.
Mickos last week acknowledged the controversy, but said Eucalyptus is being pragmatic. “Look, it’s not specifically important to be compatible with Amazon, it’s important to be compatible with the leading API in the public cloud space. If and when there’s another major standard, we will support that as well,” Mickos said.
Expect more debate around the importance of Amazon API compatibility at this week’s GigaOM Structure show where Rackspace President Lew Moorman and Amazon Web Services’ CTO Werner Vogels will both speak.