Enterprise Cloud Control: Q&A with Eucalyptus CTO Dr. Rich Wolski

Eucalyptus a software layer that forms private clouds patterns in the enterprise. Private clouds are bringing together the best of Linux, Amazon, and VMware in a practical way.

It could be argued that the cloud itself is a product of the open source spirit. So, with that in mind, we took a closer look at Eucalyptus and sat down with Dr. Rich Wolski, Chief Technology Officer of the Eucalyptus team to figure out what is the opportunity and why it is gathering the attention of successful open source entrepreneurs, investors, and partners.

A Cloud Forest. Where the Cloud and Servers Meet?

We asked this abstract, but also practical question.

Eucalyptus offers a solution for that models enterprise resources around Amazon’s core cloud services. The result is resources in the enterprise having parity with instances in Amazon’s cloud.

By modeling the Enterprise Cloud after EC2, EBS, and S3 and joining a cloud control center into the enterprise, the company introduces a control point for enterprise resources.

The resources are bound together at the core model of compute and store, and build a network control point for surrounding services.

Simple, but elegant.

Dr. Wolski pointed us to a reference implementation that shows a cloud enabled data center with the cloud manager enabled, Intel® Cloud Builder Guide to Cloud Design and Deployment on Intel® Platforms, which features a scenario provided by the Ubuntu cloud.

We found this scenario a great description of the powerful join happening around open source and Amazon’s AWS (Amazon Web Services).

The components of this model described here in the white paper give an idea of how this model includes the cloud controller as a map to the brains. It gets access to each of these core services on the network, and choreographs how they connect.

Here is a little bit more about each, offered by the white paper.

“•The Cloud Controller provides the primary interface point for interactng with the cloud. Commands to create or terminate virtual machines are initiated through the API interface at the Cloud Controller.

• The Walrus Storage Service exposes the object store. The object store is used to hold the virtual machine images prior to instantiation and to hold user data.

•The Storage Server hosts the actual bulk storage (a 1.4 TB JBOD in this case). Storage is exposed to the Block Storage Controllers and the Walrus Controller as a set of iSCSI volumes.

• The Cluster Controllers manage a collection of Node Controllers and provide the traffic isolation.

• The Block Storage Controllers (SCs) manage dynamic block devices (e.g., EBS) that VMs can use for persistent storage.

•And, the Node Controllers (NCs) which are the servers in the pools that comprise the compute elements of the cloud.

*It is noted that many of these pieces are interchangeable (e.g. Walrus) in this example with other components. Also noted: Eucalyptus supports numerous hypervisors in the market today.

So, in this quick list of components we have a real-life definition of cloud computing, in the form of an enterprise service layer.

Is the enterprise more complex in reality? You bet. Now, the fun begins.

If a Tree Falls in the Forest, Does the Forest Know?

Now your server distribution of Ubuntu, et al can one-click to cloud. That is interesting, but we know there is more. We found that cloud computing capability and cloud design are two different things and there are many pieces ripe for market upheaval.

In a way, Dr. Wolski and team bring a new protagonist into the network, as he told us “A new abstraction to the toolkit”.

If Eucalyptus works, we’ll see the company continue to grow as a piece of the fabric and bring this cloud object into the enterprise toolkit in a substantial way. IT leaders will start to plan around it, model it, and evolve it into core practices, disaster recovery, and the many scenarios around turning down and bursting resources.

To do all of this, Eucalyptus creates a lens to distributed resources, a join of all the facets of the cloud that should move to keep in sync. This model is built on core compute fabric that is offered by Amazon to isolate the simplest go-to-market pattern for connecting enterprise and public resources. Here, we see a view of this model from the white paper.

A Pristine Forest of Enterprise Cloud Servers

We have a few questions left remaining, so we plan on keeping in touch with Eucalyptus.

  • Will Eucyluptus gain enough mass in the private cloud while continuing a cozy relationship with Amazon?

  • Will Eucalyptus bring forward competitors to AWS and/or commoditize Amazon’s services by offering “in parity” providers? Is it possible to compete?

  • What impacts might this have to VMware’s core offerings, will this move VMware offering cloud computing closer to Amazon’s AWS

  • How does this impact software that is packaged for a data center and/or cloud?

  • Will this model become critical mass for deploying Amazon? How does it trend with the deployments of Amazon’s model of creating private data centers and cloud monitoring services?

Also, a bigger question came to mind.

Is this Eucalyptus further evidence that AWS was “the shot heard round the world“? Computing may never be the same, as freedom has rung now that the base computing solution is in the cloud?

It really feels like competing has forever changed, and as a server, it just doesn’t make sense to be a alone, when a forest is all around you.

Open Source – Fastest Way to 10 million downloads

Eucalyptus seems to have chose the path of least resistance, and brought open source into its corner. Becoming packaged at the core, in the Linux distribution and connected to other fabric it has the opportunity to grow quickly.

And, since it’s a private cloud, it can also grow for critical tasks. To that end, we see friends of open source, like Intel, Extreme, and Ubuntu ready to go the distance with Eucalyptus in their stacks.

We asked about traction for the product. Dr. Wolski chuckled a bit when he mentioned the large volume of downloads it has received with company partners. “It’s rewarding being in open source model. It’s in the core of our company and our motivations”.

Can you win by binding dominant platforms with open source? And, is that itself, open source?

Photo credits: kubina & lgb06

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