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Eucalyptus Systems - the fledgling open source outfit that mimics Amazon's so-called compute cloud inside private data centers - has announced its first commercial product.

Eucalyptus Enterprise Edition (EEE) is based on the open-source Eucalyptus "private cloud" platform originally developed by company co-founder and chief technology officer Rich Wolski and his fellow researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

For its new release, the outfit has ported the platform to the VMware hypervisors, allowing for installation atop VMware's vSphere, ESXi, and ESX virtualization technologies. Previously, the platform ran only on the Xen and KVM hypervisors.

"We're really tying to be hypervisor agnostic," Wolski tells The Reg. "VMware makes a lot of sense for us because of its predominance in the data center - and because Eucalyptus is really a set of cloud abstractions independent of mechanisms needed to deploy them on existing infrastructure."

Like Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, Eucalyptus provides on-demand access to scalable compute and storage resources. But whereas EC2 runs on distant servers in Amazon data centers, Wolski's platform is meant for internal use - and it's open source. It's a way for businesses to build their own EC2 inside their own data centers. The platform is even wrapped in the same APIs as Amazon EC2 - without Amazon's explicit approval.

Eucalyptus can serve as a kind of on-ramp for EC2, a place to stage applications before moving them on Amazon's public service. But it's also a way of running applications that span both the public and the private cloud, as the world insists on calling them.

Further complicating the world of cloud semantics, Amazon recently introduced what it calls a virtual private cloud. This still runs in Amazon's data centers, but it provides a secure VPN connection back to your own data centers and gives you the freedom to provision your own network resources, including IP addresses and subsets. And this, says Wolski, is good news for the Eucalyptus set.

"This new [Amazon] methodology makes it possible for us to incorporate EC2 images running inside Amazon with a single cloud allocation that's running on-premise and inside Amazon," he explains. "Previously, there was no way real way for the infrastructure to setup an all encompassing private network that's got VMs in Amazon and VMs in your data center."

Before Amazon's announcement, you could bridge these public and private domains - Wolski did so with the project that gave rise to Eucalyptus - but the two remained separate. "You could make a higher level link," Wolski continues. "So you had to run, say, VPN software in one VM and then VPN software in another VM, and all the other VMs had to know those two were talking to each other."

Eucalyptus has yet to actually incorporate Amazon's virtual private cloud into a cross-platform setup. But Wolski says the company is "working on it." Amazon made its announcement just last month, and its new offering is still in beta.

But Eucalpytus Enterprise Edition is available today, and it includes an image converter that helps users build VMware-based Eucalyptus applications that can then be moved the Amazon EC2. You can also run Eucalyptus atop Xen and KVM, and according to Wolski, the company will eventually provide tools that will let you run the same Eucalyptus cloud on disparate hypervisors. "We're going to be able to build a Eucalyptus that has vSphere, KVM, and Xen within the same cloud - but that's going to take some tooling."

Eucalyptus Systems operates on the Red Hat Linux model, offering services and support for its open source distro. Eucalyptus is also rolled into the latest release of the Ubuntu Linux distro, Jaunty Jackalope, and it will be more tightly integrated with its follow-on, Karmic Koala. Eucalyptus. Koala. You get the idea. ®

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