HP's Eucalyptus Deal Paves Way For Hybrid Cloud, But Raises Some Questions

Hewlett-Packard's acquisition of open source private cloud startup Eucalyptus is being hailed in the channel as a bold move to give customers hybrid cloud capability, but the deal also raises questions about the future direction of the Eucalyptus technology.

Eucalyptus, founded in 2009, sells software for building private clouds that work seamlessly with the Amazon Web Services public cloud, allowing workloads to be moved back and forth. Eucalyptus bills itself as the only private cloud vendor with a formal business relationship with AWS.

AWS partnered with Eucalyptus in March 2012 to develop a common set of APIs that would enable this hybrid cloud capability. But now that HP has acquired Eucalyptus, it's unclear whether AWS will continue supporting a vendor that belongs to a competitor. An AWS spokesperson declined comment.

[Related: HP Rattles Amazon's Cage, Solidifies Hybrid Cloud Strategy With Eucalyptus Buy]

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HP, meanwhile, has made big bets on OpenStack, using it for both its public and private cloud offerings and as the basis of its Helion cloud product line.

OpenStack was formed in part to counteract the influence of AWS, and HP's strategy until now has cut across the same lines. Last December, HP dropped support for the AWS EC2 API from its public cloud and said it did so to protect customers from getting locked into AWS.

Yet with the Eucalyptus deal, HP is acknowledging that its customers want a path to AWS, which is by far the largest public cloud player. Does this also mean HP might rethink its support for AWS in its public cloud? An HP spokesperson declined comment.

In a memo to employees, CEO Meg Whitman made it sound like the bridge to AWS, and the hybrid cloud strategy this enables, will remain intact.

Buying Eucalyptus is a way for HP to "help businesses build, consume and manage open source hybrid clouds," Whitman said in the memo, which was viewed by CRN.

Chris Saso, senior vice president of technology at Campbell, Calif.-based HP partner Dasher Technologies, thinks HP has acquired technology that will make its hybrid cloud story more compelling to enterprises.

"AWS has been the leader in public cloud, and HP could potentially now offer their clients public and private cloud solutions that are based on OpenStack and be compatible with AWS. That seems pretty powerful to me," Saso told CRN.

NEXT: Eucalyptus CEO Mickos Has Change Of Heart On OpenStack

Dasher has been a longtime partner of both HP and Eucalyptus, and both Mickos and HP CEO Meg Whitman have presented at its annual Executive Forum in the past, Saso said.

Eucalyptus used to compete with OpenStack and CEO Marten Mickos has been a vocal critic in the past. But last month, Mickos penned a blog post explaining he'd had a change of heart.

"Now I would like to become a stronger contributor -- a contributor to the success of OpenStack," Mickos said in the blog post, in which he also revealed plans to speak at an upcoming OpenStack conference.

Mickos, the former CEO of MySQL who sold his company to Sun Microsystems for $1 billion in 2008, will join HP when the Eucalyptus deal closes as head of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor's cloud business.

There's been industry speculation that HP bought Eucalyptus to bring Mickos into the company and build credibility in the open source community. Regardless of HP's motivations, Saso thinks Mickos will be a good fit at HP.

"With Marten, HP has added a major thought leader in open source and cloud solutions to their executive team. I could not think of a better person to lead the HP Helion team," Saso said.