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LinuxCon Preview: Marten Mickos on Why Linux Dominates in Cloud

As we prepared to announce our LinuxCon schedule this week, I talked to one of our keynote speakers, Eucalyptus Systems CEO Marten Mickos. Eucalyptus was one of the first companies on the cloud computing scene and Mickos is among the most respected open source entrepreneurs in the industry (having been CEO of MySQL AB before its acquisition by Sun Microsystems).

Mickos took a few minutes to share his thoughts on cloud computing and Linux, the new Open Virtualization Alliance, and how Linux has shaped our lives over the last 20 years.



I've heard people make the case recently that without Linux, cloud computing would not exist or would still be in the distant future. How has Linux enabled cloud computing, and why is it (Linux) so important for the future of the new enterprise environment?

Mickos: There are many reasons for this. Importantly, Linux became the dominant platform for all things web, so it's natural that Linux continues to be the foundation for the next paradigm: the cloud.

On a more technical note, Linux is an operating system built for scale-out (rather than scale-up). In previous software architectures, scale-up was the dominant design. But in a cloud world, everything has to scale out. That's why Linux is a perfect fit for cloud.

There are other reasons too: the world of software is increasingly flat. Anyone and everyone can participate and contribute. As the leading open source operating system, Linux is the natural magnet for such crowd creativity. That's why Linux evolves faster than other operating system.

Finally, it certainly helps that many of the key technologies needed in a cloud environment are open source products that run well with Linux. To name just a few: KVM, Puppet, Mule, Spring, Hadoop, MySQL and Eucalyptus.

As an early company to the now crowded cloud computing space, what is Eucalyptus doing today to help Linux enterprise and mobile users?

Mickos: You are right that Eucalyptus was among the early pioneers when the project started as an NSF-funded research project in 2007 at UC Santa Barbara. We early on decided to focus on enterprise and mobile users. From a technical standpoint, we chose the GPL license and we wrote the product in Java for highly-scalable, mission-critical use.

The product goes through extensive QA in our own internal cloud, and it's packaged and ready for people to download and put in production. In the past year, we have seen more than 25,000 new Eucalyptus clouds start up all over the world. It's great to know that we are being useful to students, researchers, developers and businesses!

We innovate fast and add new features to the product that our users are requesting. You can see the features of our upcoming release 3.

Because we are fully compatible with the cloud API of Amazon Web Services, you can move any AWS application onto Eucalyptus. Additionally, we make sure we have a strong ecosystem of partners with products that work well with Eucalyptus. This is what enables users of all types to quickly get going with their various cloud projects.

Can you tell us more about the new Open Virtualization Alliance? Why is Eucalyptus investing here, and what do you hope comes from the efforts?

Mickos: KVM is a powerful hypervisor with a great future. The fact that it is embedded in the Linux kernel makes it the obvious choice for Linux-based cloud deployments. Eucalyptus supports all major hypervisors, but we have a natural affinity to the ones under an open source license. In the Open Virtualization Alliance we get to participate in important work on performance enhancements on KVM in general and the KVM-Eucalyptus combination in particular. We share with our users a passion for software that runs fast and scales well.

So, can you give us a sneak peek into what we should expect from your LinuxCon keynote in August?


Mickos: I will talk about the shift of software infrastructure to the cloud paradigm, and about the implications this will have on free and open source software. I happen to believe that the shift to cloud is bigger than the shift to the Internet was fifteen years ago. Nearly all aspects of the software stack are in for a big disruption.

This August also marks the 20th anniversary of Linux. What do you think is the most interesting or important impact Linux has had on the world of technology?

Mickos: You know, I think Linux's most important impact is societal. Linus (Linus Torvalds in Pictures) showed all people on this planet that open collaboration leads to superior results. We need more openness, more transparency and more collaboration in this world. Thanks to Linux, it is happening. We see other areas of society learn from the world of free and open source software. The current big social trend on the mobile web has (perhaps unknowingly) borrowed many characteristic from the Linux project.

That said, Linux has had and continues to have a profound impact on the specific world of technology. There isn't a car or a medical device or a computer that doesn't run some sort of open source software today. Every leading web or mobile service uses open source software. Linux wasn't the first and isn't the only one, but it is the standard bearer of this amazing movement.

For more information on LinuxCon and to register, please visit the LinuxCon website.

 

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