Amazon deal alone can't save Eucalyptus from OpenStack

Eucalyptus' vague interoperability deal with Amazon pales in comparison to OpenStack's deep ties with Rackspace and broad vendor support

Private cloud company Eucalyptus got a much-needed boost yesterday when public cloud giant Amazon announced it will support interoperability between Amazon Web Services and the startup's own open source platform.

Though the deal with Amazon should help increase Eucalyptus' enterprise appeal, it by no means guarantees the struggling company's success; rather, it ensures that the company will persevere a while longer in the face of competitive pressure -- particularly from rival open source, private cloud upstart OpenStack.

Eucalyptus' open source IaaS software is designed to give organizations a way to build their own elastic, highly available private clouds that are compliant with AWS clouds. The idea is to accommodate AWS customers who might decide particular workloads would be better run in a more secure, manageable private cloud environment. In practice, Eucalyptus has served mainly to allow projects incubated on Amazon Web Services to be brought in-house. Eucalyptus' goal has been to make that transition seamless, and Amazon clearly sees opportunity in ensuring this interoperability between its public cloud and these private clouds.

Amazon and Eucalyptus have been somewhat vague on the details of the agreement, such as whether Eucalyptus is paying fees for interoperability rights. What's clear is, the two haven't formed any deep, strategic alliance. Amazon won't hand over AWS code or any other intellectual property to Eucalyptus beyond the AWS APIs, a company spokesperson told The Register. The main benefit to Eucalyptus, then, seems to be the removal of a legal shadow that may have presented a hurdle to potential customers. Eucalyptus now has Amazon's blessing to use Amazon's APIs.

This pat on the head is hugely important to Eucalyptus' survival, but it doesn't give Eucalyptus much in the way of new guns to wield in its battle against OpenStack. Against OpenStack's fast-growing open source ecosystem and open APIs, Eucalyptus still offers a small community and proprietary APIs. It needs more from Amazon than approval, but perhaps Amazon's approval will lead to partnerships with other industry heavyweights.

Meanwhile, OpenStack continues to pose a serious threat to Eucalyptus. Co-created by Rackspace and NASA, the IaaS provider has backing from an impressive list of vendors, including Canonical, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Intel, and Microsoft. Giants including AT&T, Internap, and Hewlett-Packard have announced or launched public clouds that use the OpenStack software. Moreover, OpenStack is a subsidiary of Rackspace and thus presumably has a tight relationship -- one that goes beyond simply sharing APIs to ensure OpenStack is interoperable with Rackspace's public cloud.

The big winner in all this ultimately could be Amazon. If the agreement with Eucalyptus works out, more customers might be lured to AWS with the knowledge that they would be able to move a workload into a compatible private cloud should the need arise. If Eucalyptus goes under, Amazon still sits pretty atop the heap of unmanaged cloud services, with the option to find other private cloud partners -- or reverse its decision to offer private cloud services itself.

This story, "Amazon deal alone can't save Eucalyptus from OpenStack," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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