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Eucalyptus makes moves to stand apart from open source cloud rivals

Release of latest Eucalyptus software update marks culmination of internal changes put in place over past 18 months, CEO says

By , Network World
June 19, 2012 11:58 AM ET

Network World - When officials at Cornell University's Center for Advanced Computing decided last year they wanted to create a public cloud environment targeted specifically for researchers, they had a couple of criteria in mind: It had to be open source and it had to be compatible with Amazon Web Services.

Perhaps it's only natural that Cornell was attracted to Eucalyptus, which got its start as an academic research initiative at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2007. Today, Cornell's Red Cloud is a 96-core machine private cloud with 384GB of RAM on eight servers and it's available for anyone to use, though is geared especially for Cornell and partnering researchers.

AWS compatibility was the big selling point for David Lifka, director of Cornell's Center for Advanced Computing. "The APIs are the same or very similar," he says, comparing AWS and Eucalyptus.

The world of open source cloud computing has become increasingly competitive since the early days of Eucalyptus, one of the original open source cloud environments. And things have really heated up over the past six months.

Rackspace and NASA combined to form open source project OpenStack in 2010, and inked early partnerships with HP, Dell and Cisco. More recently, OpenStack released its latest software version named Essex, and signed on more big-name partners in IBM, Red Hat and Yahoo. Citrix rocked the open source cloud market when it announced in April that it would create its own project based on its CloudStack technology. Now the three open source cloud projects, along with a fourth named OpenNebula, are all competing for developer and user community attention.

RELATED: Comparing participation in the open source cloud communities

The latest effort by Eucalyptus to stand part came Tuesday when it announced a new version of its software, which can be downloaded for free to build private clouds. New features include FastStart, which allows for speedier and automated setup of Eucalyptus clouds, support for the Xen and KVM hypervisors and Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems, plus numerous bug fixes. But Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos says he's most proud of the milestone changes that come along with the 3.1 software release, which he says position the company to gain back some of the momentum that OpenStack and CloudStack have recently gained. "I go to bed smiling now because many of the things we decided to implement a year and a half ago are now really happening, and we're starting to see it pay off," he says.

READ: Eucalyptus moves to GitHub

In the past 18 months, the company has gone through a reorganization and a change in philosophy related to interactions with the user community. Eucalyptus has tripled its engineering team to now include 30 members, while separating out the quality assurance department to be its own division, which has led to more than half a million tests on the latest software as part of the 3.1 release. The source code will also be available on GitHub, meaning that instead of having one paid version and another free version, the source code will be available free for anyone to download. Paying customers still get support from Eucalyptus, though.

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