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Marten Mickos: Eucalyptus Opens Up Under Agile Model

As part of our ongoing focus on open source cloud, we talked with Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos about the commoditization of hypervisors, what’s driving his company’s growth and its plans to release Eucalyptus 3.1 soon, marking the company’s shift to a much more open development model. The interview is presented in two parts. Yesterday’s post covered the open cloud, the role of APIs and where open source cloud computing is headed.

Marten Mickos, CEO EucalyptusLinux.com: What’s driving private cloud (Eucalyptus’s specialty)?

Marten Mickos: The driving force now is agility. Companies need the elasticity of cloud to assign infrastructure resources on the fly to different applications and shift the workloads around. That’s why our customers do it. Cloud is a new piece of software on your servers so there must be a benefit to installing it. Agility is that benefit. Longer-term, cloud also gives better manageability and higher utilization.

Linux.com: How much overlap is there between the surge in interest in big data and the open cloud movement? Is one influencing the other?

Mickos: I think both are driven by the large increase in the number of connected devices. The underlying trend is connected devices. How many new devices with an IP address are there? They produce a lot of data and have compute needs. They need clouds to run on and big data to be analyzed. You can run big data solutions on cloud platforms. That’s just a practical reality.

Linux.com:  Is virtualization in the cloud going away? More companies are offering cloud services without the hypervisor. What does that mean for VMware and others?

Mickos: Virtualization is needed and useful but ultimately it will be compressed into the hardware, into the CPU. Sure you can do deployments that don’t use hypervisors and get some improvements in use case. But how do you maintain flexibility of your own virtual machine? I don’t think they’re going away but I can see them being commoditized.

But we shouldn’t think companies like VMWare are losing their business anytime soon. Although the technological change could happen fast, customer deployments happen slowly. They virtualization vendors will be able to monetize that for many years to come. And now they’re moving up the chain into PaaS and IaaS that they didn’t have before.

But with a hypervisor background you might not have the needed frame of thinking for building a cloud. A hypervisor is a single piece of software; it runs in one machine. A cloud platform like Eucalyptus is essentially a multi-machine piece of software.  It takes a different mindset to develop distributed systems.

Here’s an analogy: The world had hierarchical databases, and then someone developed a relational database. It wasn’t the hierarchical designers who came up with it, it took new guys.

Linux.com: Where is Eucalyptus now?

Mickos: We are unique in the space in that we’ve had production use of Eucalyptus for over two years. We have taken a step into mission-critical uses and now have high availability (HA) in the product.

Linux.com: What’s new for you this year and where are you headed?

Mickos: We are growing very rapidly. We shipped Eucalyptus 3.0 which is revolutionary in that it has features no other cloud service has. We signed a deal with AWS and have raised $30 million in capital a few weeks ago.

We have lots of customers going and that’s just the U.S. We’re equally active in China , India and Europe. We’re pushing hard on all those fronts and shipping software faster than before. And we have the financial funds to keep expanding. But it’s always hard to build a company.

The 3.1 release is coming out in two months from now. It will mark the transition we agreed on internally in terms of a new development model. We’re working now under an agile model and we’ll use Git and GitHub for our source code repository.  This marks a much more open model for how we develop our product.

Linux.com: Does that mean Eucalyptus will be completely open source, or will you still reserve some aspects of your code for customers under an “open core” model?

Mickos: The platform is totally open, we will have plugins we give to paying customers. The good news is anybody can develop plugins so we’re a much more pluggable architecture and we’ll welcome that sort of development.

 

2012 Linux Foundation T-shirt Contest: Inspired by Linux

So much has happened recently in the Linux community to be inspired by. This is my second month as the Digital Content Editor for Linux.com and as a newbie member I’ve already met so many amazing people and seen so many significant milestones pass just since I started.

- With the Linux Foundation’s Annual Development Report we learned that more than 7,800 developers from almost 800 different companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since tracking began in 2005.

Their contributions make Linux the largest collaborative development project in the history of computing. That’s pretty amazing, and inspiring.

- Linux Creator and Linux Foundation Fellow Linus Torvalds in April was named a Millennium Technology Prize laureate -- an honor considered to be the Nobel prize of technology.

Wow, am I proud to work in the same community as him.

- New advances are happening all the time, whether it’s Ubuntu’s recent 12.04, the soon-to-be-released Linux 3.4, OpenStack and the open cloud movement, Android seizing market share or the myriad other technologies and trends that form the Linux juggernaut.

You had me at Ubuntu.

Bottom line: This community is continually innovating and inspiring the next generation of Linux products and developers. The list of accomplishments is as diverse as the community that contributes to the success of Linux. I can’t help but be in awe, and I’ll bet you can’t help it either. That’s why we’ve chosen the theme of this year’s T-shirt design contest to be “Inspired by Linux.” Tell us:

How does Linux inspire you?

We invite you to take that kernel of an idea and turn it into an inspiring T-shirt design for the Linux community to wear proudly in our 3rd Annual Linux Foundation T-shirt Design Contest. The design can depict literally or figuratively the events or ideas that get you pumped up for Linux. It can have words, graphics, or both in whatever font and colors you like. Let Linux be your muse.

Submissions are due on June 8. (Submit your design and see the official rules and submission guidelines.)

This year we’re pleased to announce that two winners will be selected by the communty. The first place winner will be reimbursed $2,000 to be applied toward airfare, hotel and admissions to their choice of LinuxCon North America in San Diego, CA on Aug. 26 - 29, 2012, or LinuxCon Europe in Barcelona, Spain Nov. 5-7, 2012. Second place will be reimbursed $1,000 toward LinuxCon North America or LinuxCon Europe in 2012.

We’ve also taken steps this year to ensure a fair voting process. The Linux Foundation staff will choose the top 5-7 submissions from designs received by the deadline. The community will then vote on the finalists to choose two winners. Voters must be registered members of Linux.com and must be logged in to vote. Only one vote per registered member is allowed.

First place will be awarded to the design that receives the most community votes and second place will go to the runner up. Winners will be announced on or around July 17, 2012.

Good luck! I can’t wait to see all of your designs. And if you're looking for more inspiration, check out our contest video:

 

Marten Mickos: Openness is Winning in the Cloud

Open source cloud computing software startup Eucalyptus has had an eventful past few months:

-       In March the Infrastructure-as-a-Service company signed a deal with Amazon Web Services to improve its compatibility with the Amazon API and address customers jointly. This makes Eucalyptus the only cloud vendor to land a formal agreement with the market-leading platform, though it’s not the only one using the API.

-       In April the company raised $30 million in Series C funding, setting it on solid financial footing to fuel its rapid expansion says CEO Marten Mickos.

-       And Eucalyptus 3.1 is coming soon, marking the company’s shift to a much more open development model and placing it firmly at the center of the open source cloud computing movement.

As part of our ongoing focus on open source cloud, we talked with Mickos about Linux and the open cloud, the role of APIs and where open source cloud computing is headed. The interview is presented in two parts. In part two we discuss Eucalyptus’s business in more detail.

Marten Mickos, CEO of EucalyptusLinux.com: Open cloud has been gaining momentum in the past few months with the announcement of CloudOpen and activity around OpenStack. What’s driving that attention?

Marten Mickos: I think generally speaking people are realizing how important cloud is. And when you look at what’s out there, there’s VMWare and then there’s nothing. And then you have four open source projects: OpenNebula; OpenStack; CloudStack; and Eucalyptus. When you want an alternative you are immediately in open source space.

Linux.com: What has changed in open source cloud computing since you spoke about it a year ago at LinuxCon?

Mickos: Products have matured. It’s following a typical technology adoption lifecycle, described in Crossing the Chasm. We’re still early but we’re less early than a year ago.

Linux.com: In that talk last year you said GPL was vital to Linux, do you see a similar legal framework developing for the cloud yet?

Mickos: It’s an important question but it’s a little philosophical. We have GPL which defines software as free and open. When you go into the cloud it’s not only about source code - it is also about data and API. Today, openness in data and API is up to each vendor - there isn't yet a common rulebook for it like the GPL is the rulebook for free software.

But I do think we’re seeing de facto standards emerging in cloud. To take Eucalyptus as a specific example, we do the same cloud API as Amazon. We see EC2 as a de facto standard.

Linux.com: The Linux Foundation has announced a new conference this year, Cloud Open, intended to encourage collaboration among open source players in cloud computing. What do you see as the Linux Foundation’s role in the open cloud movement?

Mickos: The Linux Foundation is one of the most central bodies in software in the whole world. We don’t hear much from The Linux Foundation because it’s so well managed. There haven’t been any big conflicts. Linus Torvalds keeps working on the kernel and after 20 years it keeps feeding a huge ecosystem downstream. Just doing that is already amazing.

I don’t think The Linux Foundation feels that it has to take on some mandate. It is important and relevant that KVM and Xen are now part of the Linux kernel. That’s an indication of the importance of cloud. It’s so important to keep Linux in active development in managing all the work from different parties, which is the key mandate for The Linux Foundation.

Linux.com: What about the role of Linux in open cloud?

Mickos: As we get more datacenters running in the cloud the underlying architecture will be Linux. Cloud will mean an increase in the Linux install base. Linux is so well suited for it. It powers already the largest datacenters and as we move to cloud architectures it’s good to have it there. I think cloud will increase the share of Linux on servers. 

Linux.com: What’s your outlook on the open source cloud movement in general?

Mickos: Openness is winning in cloud. I was just at a Goldman Sachs cloud conference. Out of 15 companies presenting, ten were open source companies. That’s significant. There’s much more coming and promising startups are scaling in size. Companies like Cloudera, Acquia, Opscode and Puppet Labs.

They have a large install base, they have great customers, and they’re competitive against closed source. It bodes well for the world of open source. It’s important in my mind that open source isn’t just a technology, but that there are businesses who thrive on and around open source. Take Red Hat as an example. People forget how critical it is that they’re successful showing that open source makes business sense. We need such role models and it’s very healthy for the open source community.

Linux.com: You’ve said that we’re in a transitional period in which programming freedom isn’t about source code anymore, it’s about API’s. What do you mean by that? And how does that apply to the open cloud?

Mickos: It is also about source code, but it’s not only about source code. I’m a huge supporter of open source, but the attention is pointing more to the APIs. Ten years ago you’d say that your application runs on Linux. The question now is does your application run on AWS? And of course AWS runs some Linux. But we have reached a new abstraction layer. We are higher up. And we talk about apps running on a specific cloud, not on a specific operating system. It’s difficult to find a public cloud today that doesn’t run on Linux.

Linux.com: Your talk about making API’s open was prescient considering the precedent now being set by Google and Oracle. What is the danger here?

Mickos: I’m not a legal expert so don’t want to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit. But generally speaking there are many products that claim Amazon API compatibility or are developing it.

 

Open Source Cloud Top Stories of the Week

This week's open source cloud headlines featured doomsday predictions about the consequences of the Oracle and Google dispute; why Rackspace's first quarter earnings have some analysts scaling down cloud computing predictions; and a crop of interesting trends including moves to abandon hypervisors and go bare metal in the cloud. 
OpenCloudRoundup2

Could Oracle Blow Up the Cloud?, Wired
An analysis of how the recent decision in the Oracle v Google case would potentially affect the cloud. If APIs are protected under copyright, open source cloud projects including OpenStack and CloudStack could wind up paying fees to Amazon Web Services.
 
Rackspace Earnings: Cloud Computing, Services Reality Check, Talkin Cloud Blog
The margins on Rackspace’s cloud computing earnings are fluctuating more than investors would like, signalling that the market isn’t going as gangbusters as predicted. Growth was still very strong, however, and the company reassured investors by pumping up its plans for OpenStack.

Citrix CloudStack: 85% of VARs See Private Cloud Opportunities, Talkin Cloud Blog
No real suprising news out of the Citrix Partner Summit in San Francisco this week. The market is young and Citrix is going after the group of VARs and cloud service providers that already partner with Citrix.
 
Open-source cloud frameworks: A work in progress, ComputerWorld
This overview of open source cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service offerings includes a few case studies from businesses using open source frameworks.

6fusion Goes Vendor-Agnostic with Xen, Citrix Support, Talkin Cloud Blog
This IaaS provider is branching out from VMWare to include Citrix Xen and open source Xen support. The market is chafing against vendor lockin and this company is looking to make the hypervisor less relevant to cloud services.

Going native: The move to bare-metal cloud services, InfoWorld
This article seems to back up 6Fusion’s assertion that hypervisors aren’t necessary for cloud services and that there’s a trend away from them in the market.

The battle to stop Amazon Web Services starts here, InfoWorld
Expect to see more IaaS/ PaaS partnerships and acquisitions as companies align against AWS.


 

Piston Cloud, the Red Hat of OpenStack Cloud Computing?

With the recent buzz around the OpenStack project, momentum behind open source cloud development is building. We’re now seeing an early ecosystem of companies and products built around OpenStack – a goal that Rackspace’s Lew Moorman laid out for the project when it launched two years ago.

“We hope to build a vibrant business community around this,” Moorman said in a 2010 OSCON presentation. “If companies can build around OpenStack it’s going to pay for developers to continue to give back.”

Piston Cloud Computing was one of the first to jump into the fray as an Infrastructure-as-a-Service startup built on the OpenStack framework. The one-year-old company is both contributing to and seizing the momentum behind OpenStack as the project’s only distribution (so far).

Christopher MacGown, CTO Piston CloudWe talked recently with Christopher MacGown, a Piston Cloud co-founder and CTO, about the kind of open source ecosystem he sees developing around OpenStack and his company’s claim as the Red Hat of OpenStack.

Linux.com: There are now several IT companies built around OpenStack, mostly offering services, how are you different?

Christopher MacGown: We’re primarily a product company. We’ve built the first of many distributions of OpenStack. We’re also private cloud focused versus those focused on OpenStack-based public clouds.

We’re one of the few companies for whom OpenStack is the big bet for our company. We succeed when OpenStack succeeds. Whereas some of these other companies have services divisions or other open source projects they can fall back on.

Linux.com: How are you integrated with OpenStack?

MacGown: At Piston Cloud we’re amongst the founders of OpenStack. My fellow cofounders were both at NASA and worked on the Nebula project, one of the key technologies behind OpenStack. I was at Rackspace at the time and trying to figure out how to make it open source.

We’re still really involved with the project. I’m on the Nova Core team for OpenStack compute. And several engineers are on core teams and the new Cinder project as well.

Linux.com: Why is it worthwhile to gamble your whole company on OpenStack?

MacGown: In open source software it’s not the actual software that wins, it’s the ecosystem that builds services or applications around it that wins. Linux won because the ecosystem was so much larger than the BSD/s. There’s a huge ecosystem around OpenStack. That makes it a good bet.

Linux.com: To quote Wired in a recent article: Who will be the Red Hat of OpenStack?

MacGown: We’ve always described ourselves as the Red Hat of OpenStack, though that’s become a bit funnier since Red Hat has joined OpenStack. They’re not as focused on Infrastructure-as-a-Service as we are. So we think we can still make that claim.

Our competitive advantage is we’re the only people who have built large scalable clouds. Joshua (McKenty) helped build the first certified regulated cloud for NASA, which was used by the White House. We understand regulation and we built the first implementation of Cloud Audit API, and open sourced that framework. We understand the space and believe that other people won’t actually be able to compete with us on the advantage.

Linux.com: Is open source cloud heating up? Why now?

MacGown: It really is. Open source cloud is heating up now because so many people see the Amazon model and realize it’s going to lock them in long term and don’t want to turn Amazon into next IBM. They’re realizing they can actually drive the development to meet their needs better than if using other proprietary solutions such as KWS or VMWare.

Linux.com: What are some of the trends we should be paying attention to in the open cloud space right now?

MacGown: The licensing model is moving away from general public license (GPL) and transitioning to a freer, more open licensing. That enables companies to do more around open core proprietary extensions without feeling like they’re going to violate their own source code with the GPL. There’s a trend toward Apache licensing. On the tech side there’s a lot of research and development in software-defined networking.

Linux.com: How does software-defined networking fit in with open source cloud?

MacGown: When it becomes something people understand and view the benefit for, they’ll be able to build out federate cloud environments similar to how we build out web properties now. Everybody uses Apache, some use IIS, but when you use a web browser everything is the same with your experience. Back ends might not be identical but you have the same experience as an end user of the software or virtualization pieces directly and use that across cloud providers and platforms.

Linux.com: Has this been a focus of the OpenStack project?

MacGown: It’s definitely a focus. Companies like Cisco and Dell have contributed heavily. And with federation in general there’s a lot of expectation and work being done from the humanitarian and scientific computing communities.

Linux.com: Talk about some of the challenges of the open cloud and OpenStack project and your niche in the market.

MacGown: One of the main challenges is nobody’s quite sure what cloud means. With the OpenStack project in particular that’s very similar. You have a lot of excitement and driving that in a single direction that’s 80-90 percent for everyone has been historically difficult.

The work that’s been done around the foundation to put the control directly in the hands of the community will help that. There are efforts to formalize the relationship and the decision making structure.

Linux.com: Your startup is less than two years old now, how far have you come? Where are you headed?

MacGown: We raised series A funding in July of last year, announced a preview of our product, Piston Enterprise OS (pentOS) in September 2011 and pentOS went general availability in January of this year.

Our goal for the year is we’re going to have a great release of OpanStack Essex around the middle to the end of the third quarter. We were the first to release a distro of Diablo, but we don’t want to be the first for Essex. (Canonical plans to have Essex first.) We want to be the stately gravitas distro where we support it and know all about it and can guarantee the security of it.

To learn more about how open source is impacting the future of cloud computing, check out The Linux Foundation’s latest event CloudOpen.

 
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