The Cloud World Gets A Shock, Eucalyptus Joins The OpenStack Love Fest

There are two camps when it comes to cloud operating stacks. On one side you have the OpenStack crew who believe their products give users the greatest degree of flexibility and deliver the most choice. On the other you have those who claim that Amazon Web Services have already won the public cloud battle and that any private cloud that wishes to succeed should emulate the AWS APIs. Perhaps the person who most typifies this view is Eucalyptus’ CEO Martin Mickos. Eucalyptus is, of course, the private cloud vendor that has long crowed about being the only vendor anointed by AWS to have full access to all the AWS APIs. Indeed I’ve seen Mickos go head to head with with Chris Kemp, co-founder of OpenStack. In the lively debate (see here) Mickos called OpenStack the “Soviet Union of the cloud”.

So given that entertaining history, outsiders would be a little surprised to hear of Eucalyptus’ long history with OpenStack. Bear in mind that Eucalyptus contributed the first blueprint for the OpenStack compute project (Nova). In its earliest versions Nova was a re-write in Python of early Eucalyptus Java code. Originally NASA created Nova precisely because it struggled to get Eucalyptus to work. A complex relationship indeed.

So color me shocked to hear that Mickos is keynoting at an OpenStack conference coming up in Silicon Valley, alongside that Mickos has come out on the 4th anniversary of OpenStack being spun out as an open source initiative and is signing on to support OpenStack.


Mickos states in a blog post he published today that he wants to be an OpenStack contributor. But, not surprisingly, for partially selfish reasons. While Eucalyptus is indeed the only fully AWS compatible private cloud platform, the company realizes that it doesn’t operate in a vacuum. They are integrated with components that have an important part to play in the OpenStack ecosystem: RiakCS, Ceph, Midonet and others. Mickos seems to have softened his “AWS compatibility for everything” position and is being more moderate. As he writes:

OpenStack, in my view, is the all-embracing cloud project that various large and small vendors package for complex and highly customized deployments. These are deployments where AWS compatibility is not a vital requirement. For instance, eBay is running a production deployment of OpenStack. They know how to tweak the software to fit their needs and they have the manpower to do so. In fact, they very much need a platform that is meant to be tweaked. I want OpenStack to succeed. When that happens, Eucalyptus can also succeed. OpenStack is (in my humble opinion) the name of a phenomenon of enormous proportions. Eucalyptus is the name of a tightly focused piece of software that serves a unique use case. I am intent on finding and pursuing a mutual benefit.

In taking this line, Mickos aligns the two different open source cloud approaches and contrasts them with the proprietary offerings. Of course Mickos being Mickos, there is the expected barb and Mickos rightly points out that:

OpenStack, again in my view, is also facing very serious challenges not unlike those that Unix and CORBA went through in their days. It’s difficult to produce technically brilliant products when governance is shared among very large corporations, each one with their own agenda. In an all-embracing collective it is difficult to say no to new ideas, but “no” is a vital component of designs that win. OpenStack must also pay close attention to fragmentation tendencies. Certain degrees and forms of fragmentation are not harmful (they may even be useful), but others can slow down adoption and confuse users.

It’s a valid point and the entire tone of Mickos post is a fascinating departure from what we’ve seen before. The event being held next month in Mountain View looks set to be supremely interesting – bring your popcorn!


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