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Eucalyptus Systems — the open source outfit that mimics Amazon's so-called compute cloud inside private data centers — has released a major upgrade to its commercial product, Eucalyptus Enterprise Edition.

Eucalyptus Enterprise Edition (EE) 2.0 includes support for Windows virtual machines, letting you hoist Windows Server 2003, 2008, and Windows 7 images atop a Eucalyptus cloud — not just Linux images — and it includes new billing, accounting, and user management tools. New CEO Marten Mickos — the former CEO of MySQL AB — also promises "improved scalability."

Like Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Eucalyptus provides on-demand access to scalable compute and storage resources. But whereas EC2 runs on servers in distant Amazon data centers, Mickos's platform is meant for internal use. It's a way for businesses to build a private EC2 inside their own data centers.

Eucalyptus is even wrapped in the same APIs as Amazon EC2. At the moment, it duplicates the APIs for Amazon's three primary Web Services: Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Simple Storage Service (S3), and Elastic Block Store (EBS).

The platform traces its roots back to a project founded by University of California–Santa Barbara computer science prof Rich Wolski, who's now the Eucalyptus CTO. The Eucalyptus Enterprise Edition is a for-pay product — it's priced according to the number of cores you run it on — but the company continues to offer an open source version, under the BSD license, without the latest and greatest tools.

Eucalyptus is also bundled with the newer versions of Ubuntu — there's a reason Mark Shuttleworth went with "Karmic Koala" — and it's the basis for the private Nebula cloud underway at NASA, which will likely underpin websites across the federal government.

Originally, the platform ran only the Xen and KVM hypervisors. But Enterprise Edition has now been ported to VMware hypervisors, allowing for installation atop VMware's vSphere, ESXi, and ESX virtualization technologies. The edition also includes an image converter that helps users develop VMware-based applications that are compatible with Amazon EC2. Eucalyptus can serve as a kind of staging area for EC2, a platform where you can privately test application before moving them onto Amazon's "public cloud." But it also lets you run live applications that span the public and private.

Though he's well aware the world has overhyped the move to the so-called cloud, Mickos says that the sorts of scalable platforms offered by Amazon and Eucalyptus will chance the world yet. "I've seen so many new trends in IT. Human beings overestimate the effect on the short term and underestimate on the long term. When a new thing comes along, everybody gets excited and everything thinks it's largest there is," he tells The Reg.

"Right now, we've very early in the [cloud computing] market, and expectations are over-inflated. But I think it will be massive. I think it will be bigger than anything that I have seen in my career — or will see in my career." ®

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