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. ūüôā

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.”

<blink>

LOL.

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.

Being on the napkin

Cloud Horror Stories at OSCON

Running a private cloud can be like being the victim in a horror movie. You stand up the cloud and everything’s just fine. You get some workloads running. You’re scaling up. You’re scaling down. All is well. And then the spooky music starts, and little things start going wrong — and then suddenly the chairs are spinning in the air and you’re running for your life.

If you’re in Portland for OSCON on Monday night, come on by the Cloud Horror Stories birds-of-a-feather session. We’ll have people there with scary stories to tell, so if you’re interested in learning how things can go terrible wrong in cloud-land, come on by. Even better — if you’ve got a story of your own to share, we’d love to hear you tell it, preferably in your spookiest voice.

See you around the campfire. BOOOOOO!

(And no, we’re not actually going to start a campfire in the convention center. Definitely, almost certainly, maybe not. We can do that flashlight-under-the-chin thing, anyway.)

Cloud Horror Stories at OSCON

Step two: put your cloud in that box!

(I’m sure you all know that step one is “cut a hole in the box”.)

We’ve been continually working to improve the install process of Eucalyptus over the past few months.¬†¬† In particular, we’ve been working on a project that we call Silvereye.¬† Our most recent goal: make it trivial to install a fully-running Eucalyptus cloud on a single machine.

A cloud on one machine?¬† Why bother?¬† Well, lots of reasons, actually.¬† The biggest: the developer workstation.¬† If you’re hacking on Eucalyptus, it’s pretty awesome to have Eucalyptus on a single system that you tear down and rebuild in 15 minutes.

Anyway: mission accomplished.¬† Go to our¬†Silvereye downloads directory and get the latest build (right now it’s silvereye_centos6_20121004.iso).¬† Burn it to DVD, boot your target system, and choose the “Cloud-in-a-box” option from the Centos-based installer.¬† Answer some simple questions.¬† Boom, in 15 minutes you’ve got a cloud-in-a-box!

(Note #1: a helpful README can be found in the Github repo for Silvereye: github.com/eucalyptus/silvereye.)

(Note #2: in the cloud-in-a-box config, when you log in as root for the post-install config, it’ll say “hey, do you want to install the frontend now?”¬† Answer yes.¬† It automatically installs the node controller for you.)

(Note #3: Silvereye is not supported. At all. If you use it, there are ABSOLUTELY NO GUARANTEES that it won’t burn down your house, steal your pickup truck, or throw your mother into a wood-chipper.)

Silvereye is mostly the work of sysadmin-par-excellence Bill Teachenor, based on the original Faststart installer written by David Kavanagh — but various folks are now working on it; Andy Grimm, Graziano Obertelli, and Andrew Hamilton have all been pushing the cloud-in-a-box on various distros, and Scott Moser of Canonical did some great proof-of-concept work on the UEC code. So thanks to all of them, and everyone else who’s played with it.

Give it a spin; it really is dead-easy.¬† We still need to round off a few corners before we can call it the official installer of record, but we’re quite close now.

Want that AWS-compatible cloud on your laptop?  Of course you do.  Now go get it.

Step two: put your cloud in that box!