Update: InfoQ links to a few excellent Eucalyptus updates: Velocity Conference Video by Rich Wolski and a Visualization.com interview Rich Wolski on Eucalyptus: Open Source Cloud Computing.
Eucalyptus is generating some excitement on the Cloud Computing group as a potential vendor neutral EC2 compatible cloud platform. Two reasons why Eucalyptus is potentially important: private clouds and cloud portability:
Private clouds. Let's say you want a cloud like infrastructure for architectural purposes but you want it to run on your own hardware in your own secure environment. How would you do this today? Hm....
Cloud portability. With the number of cloud offerings increasing how can you maintain some level of vendor neutrality among this "swarm" of different options? Portability is a key capability for cloud customers as the only real power customers have is in where they take their business and the only way you can change suppliers is if there's a ready market of fungible services. And the only way their can be a market is if there's a high degree of standardization.
What should you standardize on? The options are usually to form a great committee and take many years to spec out something that doesn't exist, nobody will build, and will never really work. Or have each application create a high enough layer interface that portability is potentially difficult, but possible. Or you can take a popular existing API, make it the general API, and everyone else is accommodated using an adapter layer and the necessary special glue to take advantage of value add features for each cloud.
With great foresight Eucalyptus has chosen to create a cloud platform based on Amazon's EC2. As this is the most successful cloud platform it makes a lot of sense to use it as a model. We see something similar with the attempts to port Google AppEngine to EC2 thus making GAE a standard framework for web apps. So developers would see GAE on top of EC2. A lot of code would be portable between clouds using this approach. Even better would be to add ideas in from RightScale, 3Tera, and Mosso to get a higher level view of the cloud, but that's getting ahead of the game.
Just what is Eucalyptus?
From their website:
Elastic Computing, Utility Computing, and Cloud Computing are (possibly synonymous) terms referring to a popular SLA-based computing paradigm that allows users to "rent" Internet-accessible computing capacity on a for-fee basis. While a number of commercial enterprises currently offer Elastic/Utility/Cloud hosting services and several proprietary software systems exist for deploying and maintaining a computing Cloud, standards-based open-source systems have been few and far between.
EUCALYPTUS -- Elastic Utility Computing Architecture for Linking Your Programs To Useful Systems -- is an open-source software infrastructure for implementing Elastic/Utility/Cloud computing using computing clusters and/or workstation farms. The current interface to EUCALYPTUS is interface-compatible with Amazon.com's EC2 (arguably the most commercially successful Cloud computing service), but the infrastructure is designed to be modified and extended so that multiple client-side interfaces can be supported. In addition, EUCALYPTUS is implemented using commonly-available Linux tools and basic web service technology making it easy to install and maintain.
Overall, the goal of the EUCALYPTUS project is to foster community research and development of Elastic/Utility/Cloud service implementation technologies, resource allocation strategies, service level agreement (SLA) mechanisms and policies, and usage models. The current release is version 1.0 and it includes the following features:
* Interface compatibility with EC2
* Simple installation and deployment using Rocks cluster-management tools
* Simple set of extensible cloud allocation policies
* Overlay functionality requiring no modification to the target Linux environment
* Basic "Cloud Administrator" tools for system management and user accounting
* The ability to configure multiple clusters, each with private internal network addresses, into a single Cloud.
The initial version of EUCALYPTUS requires Xen to be installed on all nodes that can be allocated, but no modifications to the "dom0" installation or to the hypervisor itself.
For more discussion see: