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Mårten Mickos: Main Competitor Remains VMware

Eucalyptus CEO Addresses Issues Following Cloud Expo in Santa Clara

Eucalyptus CEO Mårten Mickos became well-known as CEO of MySQL, a popular open-source database company that was sold to Sun Microsystems for $1 billion in February 2008. The Finnish native then stayed on with Sun for another year.

He was named CEO of Eucalyptus Systems in 2010; I interviewed him earlier this year. Now, with the conclusion of the recent Cloud Expo in Silicon Valley, I asked Mårten some follow-up questions.

Eucalyptus CEO Mårten Mickos with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan

Here is what he told me (and yes, he's right about Sonos - a rare slip on my part):

What were attendees at Cloud Expo telling you? How far along with cloud computing are they at this point?

Mickos: "Many of the discussions at Cloud Expo were between vendors. What has changed is that many vendors now have clearer product strategies and are therefore more straightforward to partner with. So you could say that us vendors are farther along now than just six months ago.

"As for customers, many of the people there were technical. Technical people typically know more about new technology than their organizations do. What I mean is that we saw numerous companies who are not just getting started, but getting real with private cloud. But it could be a bias in that we get to talk to the pioneers who still represent a minority overall."

How do you view Citrix CloudStack as well as the OpenStack project? How directly do you compete?

Mickos: "Our main competitor is vCloud Director from VMware. That's the one we most often meet in competitive situations.

"Occasionally we also meet CloudStack because it's a production-ready cloud platform. But it is mostly focused on service providers, and at this point more focused on Xen, so there is less of of market overlap.

"OpenStack comes up in numerous discussions. As it isn't production-ready yet, we don't really see it in competitive bids. And as it matures, it seems it will have a different market focus. OpenStack is a set of tools and partly independent cloud projects, whereas Eucalyptus is a QA'd and packaged product with a technology roadmap and upgrade path.

"OpenStack is (also) anti-AWS and will not fully support its API. We see ourselves as a useful complement to AWS, and as you know we have the most high-fidelity implementation of that API functionality. Finally, OpenStack is service provider and public cloud focused whereas Eucalyptus targets enterprises: web and tech companies, large enterprises and government agencies.

How fast are you growing these days?

Mickos: "Starting early in 2011 we saw phenomenal growth in our sales pipeline, and our sales growth started following the same trajectory. The great thing with many vendors in this space is that they create awareness for the sector. And when customers need a production-ready platform that enables hybrid clouds with AWS, they come to us.
We believe we have added more reference deployments this year than all our competitors combined. You can visit our website to see some of our users."

How large is your potential market compared to today?

Mickos: "Industry analysts are predicting that the IaaS market will be growing at a 70% compound annual growth rate for a number of years to come. Our business is growing much faster, which means that we are increasing our market share.

"How large the market ultimately will be cannot be known today, but I am guessing at something between (US)$10 and 20 billion annually."

How important are public sector markets to you?

Mickos: "Very important! The public sector is one of our chosen strategic markets. USDA, FDA, NASA, Aerospace and others use Eucalyptus clouds. We also have a strong presence in academia. See for instance the Red Cloud by Cornell University, or the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

"And perhaps you saw the announcement that India's National Informatics Centre is rolling out large Eucalyptus clouds to support remote villages in India.

"Governments want an open source cloud platform that works and which enables hybrid clouds. That's why Eucalyptus is so popular among them."

Which is the coolest company in Santa Barbara: Eucalyptus or Righscale?

Mickos: "Great question! Santa Barbara is such a cool place for high-growth companies. And shouldn't you include Sonos as one of the candidates?

"But I can't really be the judge myself. Naturally I love the Elastic Utility Computing Architecture Linking Your Programs To Useful Systems that our co-founders started at UCSB. But I am also a huge fan of RightScale and think they must be one of the coolest cloud companies ever.

"Whichever it is, we all love our Silicon Beach!"

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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