What HP's buyout of Eucalyptus really means

Why did HP, an OpenStack company, purchase a private cloud AWS clone? Perhaps it’s better to ask why AWS did not

Last week, Hewlett-Packard announced it would purchase Eucalyptus Systems. The reply among the cloud computing community: a resounding “Huh?” Eucalyptus, simply put, is a private cloud version of Amazon Web Services. HP is an all-in OpenStack company, with dozens of private OpenStack private companies to choose for bolstering its technology. What gives, HP?

I like Eucalyptus as a technology and as a company. The idea of a private cloud version of AWS is a good one. Many enterprises want to migrate to private and hybrid cloud computing first, then shift exclusively to public at some point in the future. However, that point seems to be moving further and further into the future for many enterprises I work with.

Eucalyptus is functionally teamed with a public cloud provider (AWS) that does not like private or hybrid clouds at all. Indeed, AWS execs have gone on record many times to state that fact.

At the same time, AWS supports a VPC (virtual private cloud, or a public cloud-hosted private cloud), and AWS stands up the mother of all private clouds for the CIA.

Still, understanding the religion at AWS, it’s no surprise why AWS did not make a move on Eucalyptus. It would have meant eating a lot of crow. If I were making the decisions at AWS, I would not have tried to pull that one off either. There'd be too much confusion.

So, why HP? The reality is that HP has not made much happen in cloud computing in the last few years, and this move might speed the company’s progress in the now crowded cloud computing market. That’s the public message, anyhow.

Less understood is that the purchase of Eucalyptus by HP functionally removes the only AWS-compatible private cloud option from the market, which -- in more than a few cases -- was needed to drive the adoption of the AWS public cloud. That path will no longer be an option for those pushing AWS, unless HP jointly sells with AWS -- which I don’t believe is going to happen.

The cloud game is much like a game of chess: It’s not about anticipating the next move; you have to think many moves ahead. I believe that’s exactly what HP is doing with Eucalyptus. All things considered, it might work.