Eucalyptus returns to its open source roots

AWS-friendly cloud vendor shows the open source world some love while setting sights on the enterprise

Since last year, Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos has acknowledged that his company hasn't done a great job in engaging and retaining support from the open source community. That's all changed now, according to Mickos: With today's release of Eucalyptus 3.1, the company has declared it's jettisoning separate enterprise and open source editions of its platform in favor of a single, open source option -- with the entire codebase freely available on GitHub.

Further emphasizing the company's support for the open source world, Eucalyptus 3.1 includes enterprise platform deployments for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Virtualization, as well as for VMware vCenter 5. What's more, the company is introducing a tool called FastStart, which enables users to deploy on-premise AWS-compatible IaaS clouds in under 20 minutes, according to Eucalyptus.

Beyond reaffirming its open source love -- and despite abandoning an official enterprise version of its wares -- Eucalyptus has declared its focus on serving enterprise customers, which includes small business, startups, and government agencies. The demands for that category of customers differ from those of more homogeneous service providers, a space rival CloudStack has successfully penetrated. "When you target the enterprise, you need to run on a number of different platforms and infrastructures," said Mickos. "They use different storage solutions, load balancers, compute services, and networking topologies."

Despite Eucalyptus' stated emphasis on the enterprise, the company is no longer offering separate enterprise and open source versions of its platform; instead, there's a single, open codebase available on GitHub. The company's revenue will come from software subscriptions, which include add-on proprietary integration modules, updates, and standard or premium support.

The reason for the shift, according to Mickos: "We decided that some of those constructs were overly complicated. We decided we wanted to move faster and be more open to the world. One code base allows us to move faster."

As observed by InfoWorld's Open Sources blogger Simon Phipps, Eucalyptus isn't alone in turning to the open source world to help drive its platform's success. The push for open source in public clouds has more to do with securing a competitive advantage than give users additional flexibility and freedom, according to Phipps.

Version 3.1's new enterprise platform deployment enhancements enables organizations to deployments clouds on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux with EC2, EBS, S3 and IAM support using heterogeneous KVM or XEN virtualization. In addition, cloud services packages for other Linux distributions under wider community support, including CentOS and Ubuntu.

FastStart provides a self-service, automated solution for easily deploying a Eucalyptus IaaS cloud in under 20 minutes, rather than requiring hours, according to Mickos. From there, users can browse FastStart-deployed clouds and quickly install euStore images. The tool can be deployed on CentOS 5 with Xen or CentOS 6 with KVM. Eucalyptus' goal here is to relieve newcomers of the complexity of the platform so that they can get up and running quickly. For more advanced users, Eucalyptus offers SilverEye, a suite of tools that allows installation and configuration of more complex Eucalyptus deployments.

Beyond opening up the Eucalyptus code on GitHub, the company is tracking defects, fixes, and new features on Jira. Additionally, the company has introduced better project management for feature-integration requests, bug reports, and development process. The company also points to its knowledge base and community forum as benefits to open source developers.

Mickos is optimistic about Eucalyptus' chances against its rivals in the space. Among the company's advantages, it recently secured backing from Amazon in its effort to support the AWS APIs. Moreover, he said that Eucalyptus has baked-in high-availability features whereas the company's rivals, at best, merely support HA.

The new features in Eucalyptus 3.1 will be available to customers on June 27.

This article, "Eucalyptus returns to its open source roots," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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