Eucalyptus Systems is in the business of producing software to run private clouds. Its CEO, Mårten Mickos, likens public clouds to Starbucks: you can go to one whenever you like and get a pretty good cup of coffee… but true coffee lovers have their own espresso machines at home.
Aside from security and privacy, an on-site cloud offers much lower latency than a public cloud based 10 or 1000 miles away. It’s also an ideal way to use the obsolete—but not quite ready to be scrapped—servers that companies seem to accumulate these days.
Mickos isn’t saying you should abandon the public cloud entirely. Rather, he advocates a hybrid cloud setup, where one’s most-used and most critical data is stored in a local private cloud, with backups and archived data offsite, possibly via a public cloud provider.
Eucalyptus is true FOSS (Free and Open Source Software). You can download it for free and run it on your own, if that’s your preference. However, if you have more money than time, you can pay Eucalyptus Systems for a supported version (which may also include a few features the free version lacks).
Either way, since this is open-source software, if you think of a useful code modification or new feature, you are welcome to incorporate it in your in-house Eucalyptus iterations, and submit it to Eucalyptus Systems for possible inclusion in the main-branch version they ship to both FOSS and commercial users.
A Proven Business Model
The FOSS-plus-commercial business model may not be widespread in cloudland quite yet, but it’s popular in many other parts of the IT landscape. Indeed, Mårten Mickos himself is one of the reasons the FOSS-plus-commercial license business model is looked upon favorably by so many in the IT world: He was the business brain behind MySQL‘s growth from nearly nothing to its billion-dollar sale.
Can he duplicate his MySQL success with Eucalyptus Systems? It’s somewhere between possible and probable. Like MySQL, Eucalyptus is in a hype-heavy area full of large-scale enterprise users. Using his old formula of hiring the best coders he can find, wherever they are, and letting them work harder than they would in a cubicle farm in a bland industrial building in Silicon Valley, Mickos could end up guiding Eucalyptus to the same leading status in cloudland that MySQL enjoyed in the database world.