Eucalyptus strengthens its back end

The company has updated version 2.0 of its open-source cloud platform

Eucalyptus Systems offers commercial support for the open source Eucalyptus software

Eucalyptus Systems offers commercial support for the open source Eucalyptus software

Two months after releasing version 2 of the enterprise edition of its open-source cloud software, Eucalyptus Systems has posted a new version of the software's base platform, the company announced on Wednesday.

In addition to the usual round of bug fixes, this new version of the software features a number of improvements that should give it more flexibility and scalability within enterprise back-end systems, said Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus Systems.

Using the same application programming interfaces (APIs) that Amazon deploys for its Amazon Web Services (AWS), Eucalyptus allows users to set up their own private clouds and move workloads among internal servers, or to and from AWS. The software is available both as free, open-source code and as a paid version.

The version announced Wednesday, also numbered version 2.0, is different from the 2.0 enterprise version in that the enterprise product uses a pre-2.0 release of the open-source base software, Mickos explained. He apologized for the potential confusion that the identical numbering might cause.

"The open-source platform is the foundation of everything we do. It is fully functional and enterprise ready, [but] this is the place where you see the new features for the first time," Mickos said.

To make money, Eucalyptus Systems uses an open-core business model, offering one version of the software free through an open-source license and selling a commercial version with support and additional features that enterprise customers may need, such as integration with the VMware virtual environment.

Eucalyptus 2.0 will be the first version that can move workloads, captured as EBS (Elastic Block Storage) volumes, using the widely deployed iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) protocol. Now, an EBS controller machine can be located anywhere on a network, even outside a domain of cloud nodes. Formerly, the software used AOE or ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) over Ethernet.

The new version also features a number of other back-end improvements. It can now run more resiliently across clusters of thousands of nodes, Mickos said. Previous versions had this capability but were still buggy. This version also allows administrators to retrieve specific versions of objects, through its support of new versioning APIs that Amazon added to its Simple Storage Service. In addition, this version can access virtual drivers through KVM Virtio, I/O virtualization software that runs on KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) hypervisors.

In conjunction with this release, Eucalyptus Systems has also revamped the process by which external parties can submit bug fixes and code improvements. The Eucalyptus site now features online click-through contributor license agreements, as well as the ability to track contributions as they work their way through the approval process.

The use of open-source private cloud software seems to be growing. Open-source management software company Black Duck reviewed its internal knowledge base of open-source projects, which includes 400 programs identified as being related to cloud computing. The company found that their use by Black Duck customers increased 70 percent from 2008 to 2009.

Eucalyptus is one of the projects listed by Black Duck, and while it is one of the more high-profile cloud projects, some controversy swirls around the project due to its use of the Amazon APIs rather than a vendor-neutral set of standards.

"We believe the Amazon API is becoming the industry standard, and that many companies will follow it," Mickos said.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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