Eucalyptus strengthens compatibility with AWS and eyes developers for traction

By Richard Nieva , written on April 29, 2013

From The News Desk

It’s no secret that good developers are one of Silicon Valley’s most precious commodities. Eucalyptus Systems today releases a new version of its cloud-management product, and CEO Marten Mickos says a focus was making it particularly developer-centric, in line with the "lean startup" philosophy that champions speed and agility.

The company lets clients build private and hybrid clouds compatible with Amazon Web Service's (AWS) APIs, and is the only vendor to have an official partnerhship with AWS. Part of the relationship means customers with Eucalyptus clouds can run applications that are compatible with AWS features like Elastic Compute Cloud and Amazon machine image. At a simple level, basically what that means is the goal is to be the private version of Amazon’s cloud computing platform.

Netflix is AWS’s most robust customer, and itself has developed a number of open source  tools to help developers manage operations on AWS. So Eucalyptus has also introduced integrations with Netflix developer tools like Chaos Monkey and Asgard. “Netflix is the gold standard of cloud application management,” says Mickos. He says there are about 10,000 Eucalyptus clouds in the world, but won’t disclose the number of customers the company has.

New features for the product, called Eucalyptus 3.3, include more AWS capabilities like elastic load balancing, which helps developers to handle the duress brought on by lots of incoming traffic; resource tagging, which allows devs to better organize metadata; and maintenance mode, which lets developers fix a broken piece of equipment like a server or a fan with no downtime, using virtualization tactics.

Eucalyptus competes with lots of formidable products, including VMware’s vCloud Director, Citrix’s CloudStack and a number of OpenStack products. Mickos thinks his company’s sweet spot is its integration with so many AWS tools.

Companies have been moving operations to the cloud for a number of years now, but many enterprises are still wary of its limitations, including security risks like putting sensitive data in the hands of a third party. The private cloud in part tries to address those concerns, by putting a part of the cloud under the jurisdiction of a company’s IT department, allowing it to control company data and better manage compliance issues.

In this new age of enterprise software, catering to the end user – and not simply a CTO – has been many companies' choice tactic for gaining traction. It’s part of the reason Yammer and Stripe have been so successful when catering to businesses. Companies like Stripe and Atlassian have been especially been a popular among developers, and they’ve built a following by focusing on dev tools. If Eucalyptus can build up an organic affection in that community, the word of mouth could do a lot to help the company’s cause.

The speed of maintenance is one particularly develop-centric feature, says Thomas Morse, the director of IT and software-as-a-service operations at AppDynamics, a company that monitors the performance of apps and diagnoses problems when things go awry. The company’s biggest customer is also Netflix. That means, Morse says, the company has to make sure any code it releases can stand the load of Netflix. “In a high volume environment, you’re doing maintenance daily. Disks are always failing,” Morse says.

Morse says the lack of downtime allows his team to be more flexible with its timetable, instead of having to schedule things like maintenance weeks in advance. And when trying to churn out the code, things like that add up.