Eucalyptus CEO brings the cloud down to earth

Marten Mickos explains Eucalyptus' partnership with Amazon, what he thinks of OpenStack, and what customers are doing with the Eucalyptus private cloud platform

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Knorr: Are you seeing substantial benefit from that already? Is it something that's coming or is it integrated into part of your regular work now?

Mickos: It is part of the regular work. I think the benefits in the market will be visible over time. They come in small portions but steadily. And let's be clear. We had the vast majority of the work done when the partnership was signed.

But we got the ability to add things and we get input from them. As an observer of us, you may not at any point see a major shift or you won't be able to see what came from where or why something was done. It will just look like Eucalyptus delivering new features.

Knorr: A lot of people, when they "outsource" something to the cloud, have a vague idea like, "let's just give it to Amazon." And very quickly they realize, wait a minute, they may actually need to hire people who have specific domain knowledge on how Amazon Web Services works. To what degree are you able to leverage the fact that there's a community of people who understand Amazon whose skills are transferrable to running your private cloud product?

Mickos: There's a huge ecosystem benefit. Generally, when we look at the Eucalyptus strategy and how we deal with the world, we see the AWS API compatibility as not just a technical thing. We see it as participating in an ecosystem with the highest level of innovation today.

I've been quoted as saying that we see Amazon's EC2 as the new Linux. I mean this as a metaphor; it's not an operating system. But 10 years ago, Linux was the congregation place for innovators and developers and people of the world. To be somebody and to develop something, to build something significant, you did it in or on Linux. We think that EC2 has a similar effect today. That's where the dominant designs happen.

That's where developers congregate, where they share code and best practices with each other, so we get this overall benefit. When Puppet does something for AWS, it also works for Eucalyptus. When RightScale supports AWS, it can also support Eucalyptus. Yes, there is that ecosystem benefit coming out of it, and it's growing because AWS is now six years old, but it still keeps growing and adding new people and new services.

Knorr: OK, Marten. You've opened the door here. There's a certain other organization that uses the Linux analogy.

Mickos: OpenStack.

Knorr: Right. OpenStack considers itself similar to the Linux kernel in the sense that it's really something you wouldn't download and deploy yourself, but you have this kind of ring of vendors around it, each intending to produce their own distribution.

Mickos: First of all, I think there's a lot of good stuff happening in the OpenStack world, so I don't want to be seen as anti-OpenStack. But I don't think it is the Linux of cloud at all. I don't know why they try to use the analogy because I think it doesn't work.

I'll tell you why. First of all, Linux was and is the creation of one single man: Linus Torvalds, who started it in 1991. For the first nearly 10 years, he developed it on his own without any corporate support. Corporate support came only in the late '90s and Linus continues to be the chief designer of the kernel. He doesn't design everything, but he is the benevolent dictator. In open source, you have one person or a very small team who is the steward and the governor and the holder of the design. OpenStack doesn't have any such person or even small group of people, so that's one difference.

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