Eucalyptus Systems, Focused on Open Source Cloud Computing, Launches With Funding

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 29, 2009

Last summer, OStatic broke the news about Eucalyptus, an open source (under a FreeBSD-style license) infrastructure for cloud computing on clusters that duplicates the functionality of Amazon's EC2, using the Amazon command-line tools directly. The project rose out of the Computer Science Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has made quite a few waves for its innovative, cost-saving and open approach to cloud computing infrastructure. Fast forward to today, and Eucalyptus Systems is announcing its debut as a commercial company. Eucalyptus Systems has just closed a $5.5 million Series A round of venture financing led by Benchmark Capital with BV Capital also participating. Here's what the company offers.

When we covered Eucalyptus last year, we spoke with co-founder Rich Wolski, who was then a professor of Computer Science at U.C. Santa Barbara. Rich now becomes CTO of Eucalyptus Systems, and co-founder Woody Rollins is CEO. Rollins commented on the round of financing that Eucalyptus has:

“Benchmark has a history of successful collaboration with open source companies, and we are pleased that Eucalyptus Systems will join MySQL, Xen, and Zimbra as a Benchmark company.”

Eucalyptus offers an open source software infrastructure for implementing cloud computing using an organization’s own IT infrastructure. There is no modification, special-purpose hardware or reconfiguration required. Eucalyptus turns data center resources such as machines, networks, and storage systems into a cloud that can be controlled and customized within a company. Users can also customize the software.

Eucalyptus started out with a singular focus on duplicating the functionality of Amazon's EC2, right down to using the same command-line tools. It remains fully compatible with the Amazon AWS public cloud infrastructure, so many people familiar with that won't have a steep learning curve with Eucalyptus and its APIs. Users of Eucalyptus can move applications back-and-forth between their own on-premise "clouds" and public clouds such as Amazon's. They can also deploy hybrid clouds, combining in-house Eucalyptus resources with public cloud resources. Eucalyptus Systems will assist customers in deploying and maintaining clouds and cloud services.

You can download the Eucalyptus software for free, and it's free to use forever. It includes an Amazon Web Services API (EC2, S3, EBS) and support for Xen virtualization and KVM.

Eucalyptus also has some pre-existing partnerships that are of note. As we covered here, RightScale, a leader in cloud computing management and support, offers a management platform that works with Eucalyptus. We've also covered Elastra's cloud server support for Eucalyptus.

Open source competitors to Amazon and others in the cloud computing space are essential to keeping a level playing field, especially when it comes to pricing. Just as Red Hat has built a good business around supplying support and training for open source software, the Eucalyptus team has a chance to offer a low-cost cloud competitor, and build its business around support and training. According to CTO Rich Wolski, Eucalyptus Systems will focus on letting companies "get the benefits of cloud computing without the concerns of lock-in, security ambiguity, and unexpected storage costs that can be associated with public clouds.” It's good to see this promising project go from flying under the radar to becoming a solidly funded open source company.

For more on Eucalyptus Systems, including its plans for engaging its existing 14,000-plus users, see GigaOm's story.