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HP, Eucalyptus, and Marten Mickos at OpenStack SV: Aiming for "Full Open Source Victory"

Also posted in the OpenStack Silicon Valley blog

Admit it; you're dying to know what happened with HP and Marten Mickos, and how it's all going to shake out for HP, OpenStack, and Eucalyptus. As the first industry event since the announcement that HP has acquired the cloud company, all eyes were on OpenStack Silicon Valley this week, where both current HP Cloud head Martin Fink and Eucalyptus CEO (and future HP Cloud head) Marten Mickos were slated to speak.

Martin Fink started the day by naming the elephant in the room and saying that they'd decided to combine his talk with Mickos', so that the audience didn't spend the whole time he was talking thinking, "When is he going to talk about Eucalyptus?" He also promised to explain just why they'd acquired the company, which seemed, with its focus on AWS, to be at odds with HP's stance on OpenStack.

It's all about open source, he explained.  "A year ago, we did what I call a student body left."  A term originally associated with football -- the whole team moves to one side of the field to give the player carrying the ball cover -- in business it means "everybody's going to work on this important project now."  That important project was OpenStack.

Fink explained that their reasoning was that if they were going to do OpenStack, they were going to do it "right", which meant "in the true sense of how open source is done,"  where different companies could work together for the good of a project, while still being fierce competitors in front of a client. To that end, the company will be releasing the commercial and developer versions of its HP Helion OpenStack "in a couple of weeks."

After joking that "As you know, we recently adopted a policy to only acquire companies headed by people named Martin.  Of course, he spells his wrong," he introduced Marten Mickos. Besides for Eucalyptus, Mickos is best known for creating the MySQL open source database, and Fink explained that HP wanted to "bring in that open source talent."  They also, he said, "recognized the value of the AWS design patterns" in use by Eucalyptus, and wanted to use that on top of OpenStack.

For his part, Marten Mickos began by talking about how for the past 15 years or so he's been "fighting for full victory for open source."  His definition of "full victory"?  It's when users get the full benefit of the software, and coders get the full credit for what they've done.

Of course, while open source is important to virtually everyone in the OpenStack community, the real question on everyone's mind is "where does Mickos and Eucalyptus stand in relation to OpenStack at HP?"

Mickos got right down to business, explaining that when it came to OpenStack, he'd be providing praise where deserved, but criticism where needed.  "Only by being honest and truthful about things can you improve them."  The nature of open source, he says, is that when someone complains about something in the code, "what they're really saying is 'I would love to love it, but right now I cannot.'"  It's a sign of passion, he explained.

When it comes to OpenStack, Mickos said that he would stand for "hardening of the central functionality, the voice of customers and users, and tight design and serious systems engineering."  He also talked about the importance listening to customers, and of having someone, be it the Technical Committee or someone else, who can say "no".

And Eucalyptus?  When the news of the acquisition broke, pundits were split about whether it meant the end of OpenStack at HP or the end of Eucalyptus, period.  According to Mickos, neither is true.  He talked about how HP is committed to OpenStack, how it's now the #1 committer to Juno, the integration of OpenStack across HP's portfolio, and so on, including HP's goal to help businesses "build, consume, and manage open source hybrid cloud."

And that's where Eucalyptus comes in.

He explained that OpenStack can and will have addons, adjuncts, and alternate projects (such as Ceph, RiakCS, Midonet, and so on,) and said that Eucalyptus wants to become one of those addons.

"We sell and support OpenStack," Mickos said.  "We sell and support Eucalyptus. You can use them together. We closed a big deal just today for a giant private cloud on Eucalyptus."

So for better or worse, Mickos appears to be sticking with the notion of holding on to Eucalyptus, but incorporating it into his plan for full open source victory.  "We did it in the web era with the LAMP stack," he concluded. "We're doing it now with OpenStack."

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