Eucalyptus update makes its techie cloud easier to use

With its third major update in 12 months, open source cloud-software company Eucalyptus has added a graphical user interface and better reporting tools to its open-source cloud, and has hardened the underlying engine to make it more robust for production use. A pioneer in the private-cloud arena, Eucalyptus now finds itself competing other open source projects such as CloudStack and OpenStack, as well as with VMware’s (s vmw) vCloud Director.

“With this release we’ve made Eucalyptus harder on the inside and softer on the outside,” Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos told me. “We’ve fixed some difficult bugs in the engine and made it easier to log data, troubleshoot to get better reporting. It’s much easier to run in production now. Softer on the outside means we’re making it easy to use. It sounds silly and simple, but our research background did not lead us into usability early on. We’re doing that now.”

The research background Mickos speaks of is Eucalyptus’s roots as an academic project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The company became a commercial entity and closed its first venture capital round in April 2012.

Also new to the Eucalyptus 3.2 release is support for EMC’s(s emc) VNX storage adapter — an important addition for big customers that tend to rely heavily on SAN storage.

News of the 3.2 release, due out in early December, comes just in time for the Amazon AWS: Reinvent show kicking off this week. Last spring, Eucalyptus and Amazon inked a deal under which Eucalyptus-based private clouds can interoperate as needed with the Amazon public cloud using the AWS APIs.

Other clouds are embracing Amazon APIs, as well. Earlier this year, Cloudscaling said version 2 of its OpenStack-based cloud will also support key Amazon and Google(s goog) Compute Engine APIs.