Cloud M&A: Irrational exuberance vs. analysis

So Eucalyptus is to be swallowed up by HP, in what remains one of the most ambiguous deals in the fashion industry of cloud computing. As I tweeted in response to several contradictory assessments:

@geoffarnold: @hui_kenneth @brianmccallion That’s why the studied ambiguity in the HP presser was so interesting. Should generate many tweets….

Probably the most extreme interpretation was from Simon Wardley (why am I not surprised), who saw it as validating his assessment of OpenStack:

I never expected HP to have the wits for this… that’s such a blinding move. Very impressed…This is a good play by HP – a lot better than relying on OpenStack… you know my opinion on OpenStack, it hasn’t changed – collective prisoner dilemma etc.

Others hailed this as a brilliant move by HP, even though there was absolutely no information provided on how (or if) HP was going to use the Eucalyptus technology. Some assumed that HP would offer both Helion and Eucalyptus; others such as Ben Kepes concluded that it was an acqui-hire that signalled the failure of Eucalyptus.

But will HP have the freedom to keep going with Eucalyptus, either as a parallel effort or as a source of AWS compatibility features for Helion? Barb Darrow explored that, and found varying opinions on whether the AWS API license that Amazon granted Eucalyptus would survive the takeover. Lydia Leong seems to think that HP has some latitude in this regard.

Personally, I think that this is likely to turn out as a pure acqui-hire. Marten is an excellent choice to lead HP’s cloud efforts, particularly after Biri’s departure and the reboot that we saw at the Atlanta Summit. The idea of adding significant AWS compatibility to OpenStack is an idea whose time has past. Readers of this blog will know that I was a strong supporter of this, but it would have required a community-wide commitment to limit semantic divergence from AWS. (Replicating the syntax of an API is easy; it’s the semantics that cause the problems.) I suppose it’s possible that HP might try to contribute a new Euca-based AWS compatibility project to OpenStack, but I doubt that the community would be very receptive…

PS For me, the biggest surprise is that it was HP that made this move. I half expected IBM to grab Eucalyptus and use it to transform SoftLayer into an AWS-compatible hybrid of Eucalyptus and CloudStack, rather than the current hybrid OpenStack-CloudStack. I guess I should stick to my day job.

UPDATE: Check out this GigaOm piece, including a podcast with an interview with Marten. I’m listening to it now.

UPDATE: Marten’s positioning Eucalyptus as a value-added contribution to OpenStack. And within a couple of minutes he (a) said that one of the values he brings is that he’s not afraid to point out the weaknesses in OpenStack, and (b) declined to express any criticism. Oh well. And now the previous Martin (Fink) is hand-waving about AWS as a design pattern. Sigh.

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