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Open Source Eucalyptus Cloud Goes Commercial

There is money in the cloud. Just ask open source startup Eucalyptus which today announced it received $5.5 million in Series A round of venture financing.

Eucalyptus is an open source cloud infrastructure project originally developed as a research effort at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). It is also the key project behind the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) that is part of the recent Jaunty Jackalope launch.

As a commercial entity, Eucalyptus Systems will now begin the task of making its open source project into a real business and grow the capabilities of the system for large enterprise users.

The launch of Eucalyptus as a commercial entity comes as interest in cloud computing continues to rise as the solution for improving enterprise data center efficiency and scalability.

"What we're trying to do is capitalize on the uptake that the community has demonstrated for the project," Rich Wolski, co-founder, CTO of Eucalyptus told InternetNews.com "We've had a lot of contact with the open source and business community with respect to the project and we decided to bring the project out of the university so we could engage the contacts. When companies started showing up asking us for help running Eucalyptus in their datacenters, as a university project that was really not feasible."

Eucalyptus enables users to create their own private clouds as well as hybrid cloud computing infrastructures that are compatible with the Amazon EC2 service. As a hybrid cloud, users are also able to move their data from private to public clouds as needed.

The new commercial company is initially about support and consulting for the open source Eucalyptus project, though Wolski noted that the plan is to develop commercial products. The first of those commercial products will be available later this year.

A key feature that the new commercial company will be working on is expanding the management capabilities of the cloud. "There is a management interface that is fairly rudimentary in the open source offering," Wolski said.

Another item that could get a boost is reporting. Wolski commented that there is a basic level of reporting in Eucalyptus now but it's an area that will be enhanced.

Open Source contributions?

The current Eucalyptus release is version 1.4, though version 1.5 will be out soon. Wolski noted that the 1.5 will extend Amazon S3 compatibility and clean up some internal code related to Amazon EC2 in general.

"We'll probably do a 1.6 release which will finish out the last corners of the API and hopefully enhance the installation and management experience of the software," Wolski said.

Though Eucalyptus is an open source project, at this point it is not actually taking contributions from those outside of the core Eucalyptus developers.

"At the moment we've had quite a bit of interest from the community in terms of contributing both patches and extending the system in some way," Wolski said. "Because we've been on fast release schedule, we've told the community that we're not accepting contributions until after the 1.6 release."

Wolski argued that because of the rapid changes in the code base, it's not possible for external changes to be able to keep pace.

For now the original authors of Eucalyptus are transitioning out of the university into company and we continue to drive the open source code base forward. "We think we'll be able to bring it to a non-chaotic landing in the mid-July timeframe. Then we'll recruit contributors from the community, folks that have asked us if they can contribute," said Wolski.