There is no denying that one day, all enterprise data with be almost entirely immersed in the public cloud. Cloud purists who consider the term private cloud a misnomer will have their heyday, and after the rest of us get over our cloud migration headaches, we will all be able to move on to the next big thing in tech. In the meantime, however, recent news like Microsoft's Azure Leap Day outage and constraints like corporate governance and security concerns continue to slow progress toward that ideal, so widespread public cloud adoption will have to wait - perhaps a long, long, long time.
For those enterprises that don't foresee the demise of the on-premise data center as all that imminent, yet still want to prepare for the eventual public cloud paradigm shift, a hybrid private and public cloud infrastructure seems to be the most palatable solution. With a hybrid approach, IT professionals can begin to take advantage of using public clouds as an alternative to buying more data center infrastructure, while still taking advantage of known performance gains realized on private clouds. But in doing this, the flexibility to move virtual OS images interchangeably across cloud stages, on the fly, becomes a going concern. This is exactly what the Eucalyptus cloud platform for on-premise Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), attempts to achieve with its open standards services and software, all through a single interface.
The underlying idea behind Eucalyptus is to automate both private and public cloud compute, network and/or storage resources to as optimal a level as possible. To put it simply, if an enterprise's hybrid cloud resources are considered an orchestra, Eucalyptus is the orchestra's conductor. From a more technical standpoint, it's essentially a hypervisor for creating an elastic cloud architecture in which you can dynamically scale cloud deployed or virtualized (Windows and Linux formatted) machine images, depending on certain events that may occur (as in the design of fault tolerant systems, or in the case of having to capably manage application workloads). Aside from high availability and resource management, and as broken down on Eucalyptus's site (see this web page), the software also allows you to build and manage hypervisor cluster environments, connect with SAN devices, and integrate with user identity management/LDAP systems. Furthermore, it also includes reporting and analysis tools to help you understand where you might provision your cloud resources, based upon factors like storage and compute or meter cost. Lastly, and probably most distinctly, Eucalyptus allows the ability to connect to web services like Amazon's AWS API, in order to allow one to take advantage of existing management tools known to products like S3 and EC2.
For IT leaders, Eucalyptus is a godsend in respect to heightened system performance and having the foresight to fully understand the economics, or costs, of hybrid cloud computing. For system administrators that face day-to-day obstacles, and continually endeavor to build well-managed IaaS systems, it is an all-in-one package for cloud resource pool administration. However, a major downside to Eucalyptus is that its only public cloud offering is AWS. Personally, as robust as their partnership is with Amazon, it shouldn't be exclusive, as I would think most users would like the option and enhanced flexibility that other cloud vendors, like Microsoft with its Azure service, can deliver.
Additionally, I'm not sure what the future holds for Eucalyptus, but one might think they'd eventually become a purveyor for the migration of on-premise applications or virtual appliances to SaaS services like Salesforce.com, as this market continues to grow. I'm sure continued changes are in store as it is only a matter of time as public cloud performance sees exponential gains, service-level and governance concerns subside, and monetary costs equalize or surpass those of private clouds.
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Ian is a manager of business intelligence/analytics for a small cap NYSE traded energy company. He also freelance writes about business and technology, as well as consults SMBs upon Internet marketing strategy.