In June of 2010, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels argued against the private cloud, but today Amazon is tacitly acknowledging the need for businesses to run their own cloud. The cloud giant announced today an agreement to work with Eucalyptus to help customers migrate workloads between private clouds and Amazon Web Services. The agreement includes Amazon providing support to Eucalyptus to extend its compatibility with AWS APIs.

Eucalyptus has been providing a private cloud stack with API compatibility with EC2 and S3 for some time, so the announcement doesn’t have an immediate technical impact. However, the announcement effectively puts the weight of Amazon behind Eucalyptus as a tool of choice for companies that want a hybrid cloud.

Amazon doesn’t do that lightly, says Greg DeKoenigsberg, vice president of community for Eucalyptus. “AWS is famous for the rigor with which it builds out services; the now-legendary Steve Yegge rant is a testament to that rigor. Amazon chose to partner with Eucalyptus because we were a great technical fit. Meeting AWS’s technical standards is a significant achievement, and we are extremely proud to be up to that lofty standard.”

The announcement will have a technical impact over time, though. DeKoenigsberg says Amazon won’t be contributing code directly, but their tech folks will help Eucalyptus “continue to improve the fidelity of the Eucalyptus implementation of the AWS API.”

Eucalyptus will continue to be distributed under the GPLv3, minus a few components that are proprietary and aimed at its larger customers. Though it’s not spelled out in the announcement, the partnership should quell any fears about Amazon going after Eucalyptus for software patents.

DeKoenigsberg says that this isn’t an exclusive relationship, but “I personally don’t see anyone out there who provides the same technical ability to match the AWS API that we provide.”

Shifting Landscape

The Amazon/Eucalyptus partnership might create a few headaches in other cloud camps, especially the OpenStack community.

Customers that have been eyeing OpenStack as an AWS alternative that provides an opportunity for on-premises and public clouds may be giving Eucalyptus a second look at this point. Amazon’s cloud offerings are far more mature than OpenStack, and Eucalyptus has years of successful customer deployments under its belt.

Finally, DeKoenigsberg says that this solidifies the AWS APIs as the standard. “In the world of web services, it’s all about the API. Securing an agreement with Amazon, in which they actively support the development of an open source reference implementation that supports the AWS API, is a monumental step forward in cementing the AWS API as the de facto API for cloud computing, be it public, private, or hybrid.”

The other big takeaway is that Amazon has, finally, acknowledged that private clouds are a demand that needs to be addressed. Sure, Amazon has offered virtual private clouds, but the company has resisted the idea of on-premise clouds. While there may be strong arguments for hosting much of a company’s infrastructure with AWS, companies are going to want on-premise control of some of their computing for a long time. With Eucalyptus, organizations get control and AWS compatibility.