Summary:

Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos has been around the private cloud space since its inception. Nearly five years after the company’s launch, Mickos shares his thoughts on a market that rose fast, fell hard and appears to be on the rebound.

Eucalyptus Systems,  founded in 2009, was one of the earliest startups in the private cloud computing space (some would argue it was the first company in the space). It’s also the only company with a direct partnership with Amazon Web Services to build private cloud software based on the the public cloud giant’s APIs. CEO Marten Mickos has been with the company for most of that time and seen the arena, and his company, rise fast, fall hard and now, it seems, begin to rebound. He came on the Structure Show podcast this week to tell us all about it.

Mickos is a quote-worthy guy, and here are five of the best from our interview — but anyone interested in how Eucalytpus has evolved, how the private cloud market has evolved or which approaches to open source development are best will want to hear the whole thing. (They can also come to our Structure conference in June, where Mickos will be part of a discussion about where the private cloud space is headed.) You might not always agree with him, but the former MySQL CEO knows his stuff and speaks from experience.

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What the heck happened to all those private-cloud startups?

“We’ve gone through the S-curve of huge excitement back in 2010 and everybody thought it would happen immediately, and we all bullishly went into the market with all kinds of initiatives and things, and it turned out it wasn’t happening then. We retracted, we pulled back and focused on our own strategy, and realized that we shouldn’t be out there fighting a battle for non-existent customers. Now we are seeing it happening for real and coming back, and this time I think it’s the permanent growth of this market.”

Private cloud isn’t a zero-sum game

“An enterprise looking at us will say, ‘OK, I thought I could standardize on one thing, but here I am locked into VMware, I am attracted to OpenStack, I’m completely headed in the AWS direction, and all those three things may very well happen in parallel.'”

Structure 2012: Marten Mickos - CEO, Eucalyptus Systems

Marten Mickos at Structure 2012. (c) 2012 Pinar Ozger

Red Hat is the driving force behind OpenStack

“I believe in OpenStack there will emerge just one leader and winner and take it all. My bet is on Red Hat there … Of all the key players in OpenStack, they seem to be the guys who can turn it into a product and ship it to customers, and I think that’s where OpenStack is heading. It will be part of Red Hat’s stack, they will offer it to large enterprises as an alternative to VMware and Microsoft.”

Not all public cloud APIs are worth supporting yet

“We’ve said, jokingly, that we’ve found Coke and we’re looking for Pepsi. Meaning we support Amazon and we’re looking for who the main challenger will be. Personally, I would place my bets on Google and Google Compute Engine. But I also realize that [Microsoft Windows] Azure is an undervalued and underestimated player here, because people assume that they won’t do well, but when you look at it, they know what they’re doing. … Everybody else will be an order of magnitude smaller, or even smaller than that.”

AWS won’t really get into private clouds anytime soon

“Usually, I say, ‘If you have $600 million [referring to AWS's mega-deal with the Central Intelligence Agency], you can buy your private cloud from Amazon. Everybody else, come to me.'”

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