Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Eucalyptus and You

Last Friday night I came across a post by Sam Dean of OStatic, titled "Eucalyptus: Unsung Open Source Infrastructure for Cloud Computing", and my jaw fell to the floor. Here it was, the project I wondered why no one was building; a project focused on replicating Amazon APIs in an open source cluster environment. The more I read Sam's post, the more I thought "Man, is this project in the right place at the right time."

I immediately Twittered the link, and was retweeted by no less than Don MacAskill and Dion Hinchcliffe in a matter of minutes. A few hours later, Simon posted his excitement, and then this morning I came across an analysis by Todd Hoff of highscalability.com that I think sums up what we know today quite nicely. Todd heard about this through the Cloud Computing group on Google Groups, and that thread was kicked off by Khazret Sapenov, himself a very prolific cloud thinker.

This is big stuff, despite the skepticism of some cloud fanatics who can't grep why "private clouds" (I am beginning to like that term) are legitimate. I most certainly don't fall into that particular camp, having real experience working with customers who realize that they have to start with an in-house cloud to satisfy corporate and legal mandates. Ideally, though, this infrastructure would allow them to migrate all or portions of their applications out of house when the time and technology are right. If Eucalyptus can pull this off and really provide a killer Amazon clone for private deployments, they may become the core technology for an awful lot of enterprise SLAuto platforms in years to come.

Of course, they are a hell of a long way from achieving that. Todd's post gives a fairly good overview of what Eucalyptus is, but there is still much to do from the technical, functional and marketing standpoints. For example:
  • As the Eucalyptus team notes themselves, its still missing key command line tools.
  • It doesn't appear to be an infrastructure optimization approach, but rather a straight forward clustering approach. Thus, all of your capacity likely must remain running continuously when using the out-of-the-box functionality. I'd like to see them tackle SLAuto when they have the Amazon tools completed.
  • It is thoroughly dependent on the Rock cluster project. Knowing my enterprise IT friends, this won't "go down easy" for any of them.
Interestingly enough, while I was writing this, the Eucalyptus home page was temporarily unavailable. I hope this means that it is overwhelmed with interest. I'd really like to see this community grow substantially, and for the project to evolve very quickly from where it is now.

Simon's observations about portability are really at the heart of my excitement. Realistically, the Eucalyptus team has simply started a journey of 1000 miles with this single step. Congratulations, guys, on setting the pace.