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1/19/2010
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Eucalyptus Downloads On The Rise

Open source Eucalyptus Enterprise Server includes APIs that mimic the proprietary functionality of Amazon's EC2.

Eucalyptus Systems, the company that is commercializing the open source code that mimics Amazon Web Services cloud APIs, says it seeing the download of 15,000 copies of Eucalyptus cloud APIs a month now.

That was true in November and December. Before those two months, the download rate was more like 8,500 a month. CTO Rich Wolski acknowledges that the pace may slow off the 15,000 mark as 2010 proceeds. But in an interview, he said he hopes it doesn't.

Part of the spike in downloads reflects the release of Canonical Ubuntu 9.10, the October release of Ubuntu Linux with its Unbuntu Enterprise Cloud features. Those features include Eucalyptus. But the uptake also reflects a keener interest in establishing private cloud operations inside company data centers, Wolski said.

"We don't quite know what caused the spikes to 15,000. But Karmic Koala includes the 1.6 release of Eucalyptus. We put quite a lot of engineering into scaling 1.6," he noted, and in addition to Ubuntu, that release of Eucalyptus has gone into Open Suse Linux; the rebranded versions Red Hat Linux, CentOS; and the open source Linux project, Debian.

Woody Rollins, CEO and co-founder of Eucalyptus Systems, said license orders for large companies also turned upward in November and December. "We are selling more licenses to large companies, some with multi-year support contracts," he noted.

Rollins noted that Eucalyptus Systems "hardened its product roadmap" to bring out additional enterprise products in beta by the end of the first quarter and make them generally available products by the end of the second quarter. Perhaps even more important, in September 2009, Eucalyptus announced the first support for VMware's virtual machines as opposed to those built to run in the Amazon Web Services' Elastic Compute Cloud.

EC2 runs AMIs, a variation on the Xen open source hypervisor's virtual machine. Most enterprises have invested in VMware's ESX Server and related products. Eucalyptus can run VMware virtual machines in the private cloud, then convert them into AMIs for running in the Amazon cloud.

"All along we'd gotten a marketplace signal that they wanted the open source code. What changed in November and December is a significant fraction of the discussion we've been having with users shifted to, 'We want to buy your product,'" said Rollins.

Eucalyptus Systems launched a commercial version of its open source code in early September. Called Eucalyptus Enterprise Server, it includes APIs that mimic in open source code the proprietary functionality of Amazon's EC2. That is, an application built using Eucalyptus' APIs can be formatted as an AMI workload for EC2 and EC2 will recognize its instructions to load a job, run it, stop, store temporary results and store permanently to disk. Eucalyptus Enterprise Server is priced at $199 per server core.

Wolski said even though his small firm finds itself dealing with large companies, "to be honest, the number of cores involved per deal is frequently only 64 to 128. But we are hearing about plans for much larger installations than that." A typical Intel or AMD server is a two CPU server with each CPU having two or four cores. That means a sweet spot in the server market is a server with four or eight cores. Many servers now ship with four cores per CPU, which would increase the typical range of cores from eight to sixteen cores.

A private cloud based on 64 cores might have as few as four servers, or amount to a small cluster in a large data center. But Wolski said it is still early for companies to be building private clouds, and the shift from open source downloads at Eucalyptus Systems to upfront purchases is a leading indicator of things to come.

Rollins said Eucalyptus Systems has grown from 7 to 20 employees since being formed at the end of April. It had $5.5 million in funding at the time from Benchmark Capital and BV Capital and remains sufficiently infused with capital, he said. But Wolski and Rollins want their company to scale with demand as the concept of cloud computing gets better established and implemented more frequently. At some point, Rollins said, it will have to consider how it wishes to obtain funds for its future expansion. "We're not hurting for funding but we're thinking about it," he said.

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