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Startup City: Eucalyptus Systems Readies Enterprise Add-Ons

With a handful of customers, the private cloud startup is ramping up its services and software capabilities.

The computer science engineers behind the Eucalyptus cloud computing platform, conceived as a research project at the University of California at Santa Barbara, joined the world of commercial open source with the recent launch of Eucalyptus Systems. For IT departments looking to implement cloud-like services, Eucalyptus is a platform to consider. Eucalyptus Systems--the company--offers enterprise service and support.
--John Foley

Wolski isn't hung up on nomenclature

HEADQUARTERS: Goleta, Calif.

PRODUCT: Eucalyptus, open source software for building private and hybrid cloud computing environments

PRINCIPALS: Woody Rollins, CEO and co-founder; Rich Wolski, CTO and co-founder

INVESTORS: Benchmark Capital, BV Capital

EARLY CUSTOMERS: Eli Lilly, companies in the financial, technology, and telecom industries

BACKGROUND: Software was hatched as a research project in the Computer Science Department at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where Wolski is a professor. The Eucalyptus engineering team joined the startup.

Private Clouds
What do you call cloud computing environments that function like public cloud services but run in your own data center? Private clouds? Internal clouds? Eucalyptus Systems CTO Rich Wolski refers to them as on-premises clouds, but he refuses to get hung up on the nomenclature. It's what the open source Eucalyptus software does that has drawn the interest of a handful of corporations.

Eucalyptus makes it possible to manage existing data center resources--servers, storage, networking--as unified resources that can be doled out through self-service provisioning by developers, end users, and business units. Eucalyptus has the added benefit of supporting's Web Services APIs, making it possible to move data and applications between private Eucalyptus clouds and Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud and Simple Storage Service. These hybrid environments can be used for "cloud bursting"--a way of accommodating traffic spikes--and for short-term IT resource requirements.

Software Stack
Eucalyptus is comprised of open source technologies, including the Apache Axis2 Web services engine, Mule enterprise service bus, Rampart security, and LibVert for virtualization. Eucalyptus runs on Linux and a recent release, version 1.5, was tuned for the Jaunty Jackalope (9.04) release of Ubuntu. The platform is capable of supporting other cloud service APIs, but for now the Amazon API remains the focus.

A minor upgrade, Eucalyptus 1.5.1, came out in May, and another, 1.5.2, is planned. Both include bug fixes and other tweaks. A more substantive release, 1.6, is due this summer. Longer term, the Eucalyptus core may be reengineered in a 2.0 release, but Wolski says, "We haven't gotten there yet."

Business Plan
In its first few months as a company, Eucalyptus Systems has focused on working with a handful of early adopters. In the months ahead, the company plans to publish tiered pricing for customers that want subscription-based services. Eucalyptus Systems will also develop and license software add-ons that layer enterprise-class capabilities on top of the open source cloud platform.

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