Eucalyptus New CEO Preps For Cloud Explosion

During his seven year stretch as CEO of MySQL, Mickos turned the open source database market on its ear, growing MySQL from a startup to one of the most prominent open source company in the world. He grew MySQL to the point that Sun Microsystems swooped in and acquired it with a $1 billion offer, an unheard of sum for an open source company.

Mickos made waves, despite the database market already being well established and the open source market growing in both relevance and presence. Mickos shifted to Sun as a senior vice president, a spot he held for roughly a year before leaving the post.

"I feel like I've joined a startup, even though in reality I've joined a Fortune 500 company," Mickos said when he joined Sun in early 2009.

And now Mickos has joined a startup, signing on as CEO of Eucalyptus systems, an open source cloud infrastructure player. Mickos said the timing couldn't be better, as the hype swirls around cloud computing and presents a chance to shake things up in a burgeoning market.

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"Cloud computing is different than the database market," he said. "Cloud computing is a new, greenfield opportunity. It's more of an open field where the database market was established and you had to be disruptive."

But taking on "a new job, a new situation, in a new company" is just what he said he was looking to do when Mickos officially joined Eucalyptus as its CEO last week.

"Everybody who is smarter than me says cloud computing is the biggest technology shift of the last 10 years," Mickos said. "It is happening. It will happen."

And nowhere will cloud computing make a stronger impact than in the channel, which Mickos said will have "heightened importance" as the cloud comes into its own, especially for systems integrators. But as the cloud presents the channel with new opportunity, it also changes the traditional sales model solution providers have grown accustomed to, especially as they adjust from up front hardware and software sales to subscription services that bring in monthly payments.

"The fundamental change is that software isn't packaged and shipped anymore," he said. "But it's a more natural way of doing things; subscription based software creates a sustainable revenue source."

For solution providers to make hay, they have to embrace the new marketplace and realize what pushed it in this direction.

"It takes many triggers to trigger a big avalanche like this," Mickos said, noting that the explosion of the Web and the proliferation of mobility fueled by an influx of mobile devices were two big factors in cloud computing's massive growth. Further forging the path were advancements and innovation in silicon and storage, which helped make the theory of cloud computing an affordable reality.

"It used to be far too complex and far too expensive for these principles to be a reality," he said. "Today it's doable."

Mickos added that the enterprises now also have a global reach, meaning cloud infrastructure is needed to keep connected.

Still, Mickos said the industry is a ways away from having the cloud reach the ubiquity that many analysts and industry watchers are predicting. The true impact of cloud computing won't be felt for up to a decade.

"I think we're some time away from broad acceptance," he said.

Mickos said Eucalyptus will leverage its suite of APIs that integrate with Amazon Web Servces; its solutions that deliver public, private and hybrid cloud environments; and it's Enterprise Edition, an on-premise solution for VMware vShpere users that adds cloud functionality utilizing VMware virtualization technologies, to carve its name into the cloud landscape.

Going forward, Mickos said, hybrid clouds will be the path the industry takes. Private clouds will still play a strong role, but public clouds will take over as the dominant technology.

"It isn't a cloud if it has firm boundaries," he said.

As for Eucalyptus, Mickos said in 2010 it plans to continue to develop and sharpen its software offerings while looking to sign up key first time customers and partners.

"We're laying the foundation," he said.