Being on the napkin
Alistair, I loved your napkin-based comparison of the private cloud players. It’s hilarious, and I agree with most of it. Yes, the private cloud discussion definitely shares parallels with the platform wars of the past. It’s a very useful lens for viewing our little world… even if that lens happened to be the bottom of a wine bottle.
First of all, I’ve got to say that it’s great to see Eucalyptus in the center of your napkin. Look at the size of those other players: put together the combined market cap of the OpenStack companies, VMWare, and Citrix… and then look at little old us. We must be doing something right!
What really interests me, though, is where you tried to fit Eucalyptus into your napkin analysis. I suspect that you weren’t quite sure where to put us, so you chose OS/2, found some surface similarities, and moved on to the other parts of the napkin.
In the immortal words of the great sage Jules Winnfield, “allow me to retort.”
“Integration happens when people rally around one thing.” Yes, this is exactly the right argument — and customers are rallying around AWS. Those guys are farther to the upper right in the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant than I’ve ever seen. They’re doing more public cloud business than all the other players in that market combined right now. Which is why we, and our users and customers, are rallying around one thing: AWS compatibility.
“Apps matter more than legacy protocols.” This, also, is exactly right. Developers are writing apps for the cloud — and that generally means writing them for AWS first. And developers are busy, which means that despite their good intentions to make their apps portable, portability generally comes somewhere between localization and database normalization on the priority list. Which is, of course, why legacy players like VMWare are fighting tooth-and-nail to protect their own legacy protocols. Just listen to Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMWare: “if a workload goes to Amazon, you lose, and we have lost forever.” That’s precisely why the value we add is so useful to our users and customers: the switching costs from AWS to Eucalyptus (and back) are orders of magnitude simpler than any other option.
“IBM spent a lot of time making OS/2 work with legacy mainframe protocols and existing enterprise environments.”
Wait… did you just compare AWS to the IBM System/360?
“…and Eucalyptus is OS/2.”
OK, story time.
I worked at IBM way back in the day, fresh out of no college. I was the designated worldwide global support guru for the Audiovation Sound Card , for Microchannel, for OS/2. This was a combination of hardware and software that was never tested, and thus never worked. So being “worldwide global support guru” basically meant picking up the phone and saying “that combination doesn’t work, send the card back, here’s your case number, have a nice day.” And customers would always ask, irritatedly, “you made all these products — how is it possible that they don’t work together?” And my inability to lie about the answer to that question — “because none of these three components are important individually in the market, let alone collectively” — was probably a contributing factor to my getting fired from that job.
In my opinion, the chief failure of OS/2 was in its attempts to be too many things to too many people — being OK at everything, but good at nothing in particular.
That is precisely the opposite of the Eucalyptus strategy, which is to be insanely great at interoperability with the AWS API, the de facto standard for talking to the world’s dominant cloud platform.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: it’s about focus for us. We are focusing on a very particular pain point, that developers are feeling ever more acutely: the potential for AWS lock-in. Our goal is to provide an open source alternative for those users to mitigate those potential lock-in risks. Focus, focus, focus.
We see the benefits of this focused approach every day. Our roadmap is spread out before us in great detail — and that roadmap, combined with some of the best cloud engineers on the planet, gives us a feature velocity that no one else in the private cloud world can currently match. Which is why we’re on your napkin, despite being a fraction of the size of the napkin’s other inhabitants.
But in thinking about it, maybe your comparison to old school mainframe connectivity is right, and you’ve just got your timeframes wrong.
Maybe it’s 1965, and OpenStack is Multics, and Red Hat is GE, and Amazon is IBM, and AWS is the brand new System/360, ready to dominate the computing landscape for the next two decades.
Which would make Eucalyptus the open source little brother that the System/360 never had, that has no analogue in the history books, and that could have changed everything. Trouble is, I’m not sure how to fit that on your napkin.