Eucalyptus Systems Shares Details On its Open Source Cloud Plans

by Ostatic Staff - May. 08, 2009

Last week, we did a story on the open source cloud project Eucalyptus, which was originally an effort out of the University of California at Santa Barbara. As we noted then, the project is now the basis of a well-funded new company, Eucalyptus Systems, which has closed a $5.5 million Series A round of financing led by Benchmark Capital, with BV Capital also participating. (Benchmark Capital is a heavy hitter in funding commercial open source firms, having invested in MySQL, Xen and more.)

Eucalyptus Systems will focus initially on providing Red Hat-like training and consulting services for the Eucalyptus platform, which (under a FreeBSD-style license) provides an infrastructure for cloud computing on clusters that duplicates the functionality of Amazon's EC2, using the Amazon command-line tools directly. Many companies are already using Eucalyptus as a platform to seamlessly manage their public cloud and on-premise cloud applications, reaping cost advantages over proprietary cloud players. We caught up with Eucalyptus Systems' CTO Rich Wolski, one of the founders of the project, to get details on the company's plans.

Rich Wolski initially spoke with OStatic for this story from last year, which broke the news of the Eucalyptus open source cloud computing project. At the time, Wolski was a professor of Computer Science at U.C. Santa Barbara, and just after our story on the project came out, Facebook attempted to recruit several members of Wolski's Eucalyptus team. That level of interest in Eucalyptus has transferred over to many companies using the software, and their interest in the platform is a big part of how Eucalyptus Systems was founded and got financing. (Wolski has taken a leave of absence from the university to work full time for the company, and co-founder Woody Rollins is CEO.)

"Companies were coming to me and saying 'we're running Eucalyptus in our data center, and we'd like to pay you' for help," Wolski told OStatic. When asked what companies are doing with Eucalyputs, Wolski said: "They're doing a variety of things, but a lot of them are basically interested in Eucalyptus for doing the same kinds of things they're doing in Amazon AWS, such as business logic applications, where part of the attraction of Eucalyptus is that they can use it as a platform for seamlessly running their public cloud applications and their on-premise cloud apps."

While Eucalyptus Systems will focus initially on support and consulting for Eucalyptus, the company's goal is to develop follow-on products and form partnerships. According to Wolski, there isn't any set pricing for support and consulting at this point, but there will be soon.

Wolski pointed to a number of advantages that an open source cloud platfrom can have over proprietary ones. "There are basically two main advantages," he said. "Open source can give you access to a constantly changing and evolving ecosystem. That's why Linux is popular in data centers, where many interfaces can come from one basic core. Secondly, open source can be run on a wide variety of hardware and resources. Eucalytpus can run on old versions of Linux, new versions of Linux, old hypervisors, new hypervisors. Proprietary players, on the other hand, are very focused on producing one version to work everywhere."

We asked Wolski and the Eucalyptus Systems team to update us when pricing for support and consulting are available, and keep us up to date on new products. With Benchmark Capital behind the company in the fast-growing cloud space, it has a chance to offer pricing advantages in the cloud, and preserve a level playing field.