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Start-Up Eucalyptus Debuts with Hybrid Cloud Services

A research project born at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) this week jumped into the field of start-ups looking to offer cloud-based computing with an offering that bridges datacenters with public cloud services.

Eucalyptus Systems Inc. said Benchmark Capital and BV Capital have invested $5.5 million in venture financing. The Santa Barbara-based company aims to help enterprises run systems and applications transparently between their own systems and public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The Eucalyptus platform is based on open source software, Java and Web services that lets organizations create premises-based cloud computing infrastructure using their own hardware and software. The platform lets them run their datacenter as if it were a cloud service without having to reconfigure their applications.

By supporting the APIs of cloud providers, initially AWS, enterprises can link their datacenter to those services, said Rich Wolski, Eucalyptus' founder and CTO. Wolksi is also a professor of computer science at UCSB who is on leave.

"Once Eucalyptus is installed, it makes your datacenter compatible at the API level, or it makes your datacenter look like an Amazon cloud," Wolski said. "This notion of being able to hybridize your local resources with the public cloud is easily facilitated. We see users on the open source side who are mixing and matching their local IT with Amazon."

Eucalyptus initially will offer consulting services. It has some enterprise customers but declined to name them. The company has not yet determined pricing. Ultimately, it will offer a product built on open source software that appears most viable for enterprise configurations, Wolski said. Eucalyptus is looking at other cloud APIs, notably AppScale, the open source implementation of Google AppEngine and Sun's Cloud API.

Microsoft's Azure Services Platform, still in beta, is not currently on the agenda, though Wolski hasn't ruled it out in the future. "That API is a different model than the Web services model that Google and Amazon and some of these other providers are adopting," Wolski said. "It's not out of the question to try to couple them on the front end with Eucalyptus on the back end, but in the near term, we are more focused on the Web service provisioning API than we are some sort of integrated language runtime solution."

That said, Wolski also didn't rule out trying to license .NET from Microsoft to enable Web services provisioning in the event that Java moves in a more proprietary or fragmented direction after the completion of Oracle's $7.4 million acquisition of Sun Microsystems, announced last week. "The .NET Web service infrastructure is very, very powerful, and...we could easily port in that direction if Java no longer became viable. There's a question of how much of that we can use as part of our open source mission but technologically it's very feasible," he said.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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