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Mickos: Amazon and Eucalyptus still rule the cloud

Ex-MySQL man takes fight to OpenStack

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Purists versus pretenders

Mickos believes Eucalyptus has the advantage of being one of the first cloud computing businesses. This makes the company a purist rather than a pretender, he says. "The founding team had the blessing of being the only ones there – we had to figure out our position and to comment about other vendors which have never had to do it before."

That purity? An Amazon-compatible cloud that doesn't try to compete with Amazon itself. It lets you move to Amazon when you're ready and move back again. You can build a cloud that spans both Eucalyptus and Amazon.

But what about the loss of Ubuntu and such a well-known personal investor? Mickos thanks Shuttleworth for his investment money and two years of good publicity. "It was good for us. We got users to experiment with us," Mickos said. But he claims that Eucalyptus made practically no money from the relationship. No hard feelings then.

Mickos says that there isn't one Eucalyptus customer running on Canonical's Ubuntu Enterprise setup, that customers are instead using Eucalyptus on plain-old Ubuntu. The former uses the Ubuntu Landscape tool to pool Ubuntu servers or toss images onto Amazon. The latter is, well, just Ubuntu. "When we run in production, it's mostly CentOS or Red Hat," he says.

What about OpenStack? Nearly a year after OpenStack was announced, Mickos reiterates that Amazon - and by extension Amazon-compatible clouds such as Eucalyptus - are still the primary game in town.

OpenStack consists of two basic platforms: Compute and Object Storage. The storage piece has been deployed on at least one commercial service, and much the same code back Rackspace cloud storage service. But at the moment, it seems that NASA is the only big name using the Compute piece "in production". To help accelerate development, Rackspace has bought Anso Labs, a small company that helped build the compute piece for NASA.

Mickos says that while customers had issues with the Eucalyptus software a year ago, it's no longer right to say Eucalyptus is difficult to install or scale.

"We continue to be the only production-ready cloud platform already out there. You can make lots of statements and lots of plans and do all kinds of things, but when you go to production there are very few alternatives out there, and we are there," he said.

Some have questioned OpenStack's official status as a vendor-neutral operation. The acquisition of Anso gave it control the project's board, but the company has moved to expand the board to other players. Mickos is among those who believe that Rackspace should have been clearer in its intentions.

But Eucalyptus has its own burden to carry. Eucalyptus might be open-source, but it uses something called an open-core model. Translated: There's a free community edition of Eucalyptus for everybody, but more advanced features beyond the basic stuff only go to paying customers.

This is exactly the model Mickos employed at MySQL, and it upset people then too.

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