The news that AWS is partnering with Eucalyptus to provide some sort of API compatible migration between private clouds and AWS is interesting. But not for the reasons you would expect. Yes, at some level it is interesting that AWS is acknowledging private-public cloud portability. It is also somewhat interesting that Eucalyptus providers now have an extra arrow in their quiver. But all of that will be minor in the bigger AWS scheme of things anyway — after all, those partnerships seldom mount to much (as @swardley asks, “Is ”AWS partnering with Eucalyptus = MS partnering with Novell“ a sensible analogy or the argument of those hanging on by their fingernails?”). But still it is a good move by Eucalyptus nonetheless.
What is interesting is the API compatibility. Eucalyptus is AWS API compatible and OpenStack is not. The OpenStack community has been arguing for months on whether or not they should make their API compatible with AWS. I haven’t followed the argument in detail (yawn) and think that currently they are still um and ah-ing over AWS API compatibility. Feel free to correct me in the comments if necessary. Have a read through Innovation and OpenStack: Lessons from HTTP by Mark Shuttleworth for his opinion on the matter (as of September 2011).
One of the questions about API compatibility is whether or not AWS would get upset and it seems that the Eucalyptus agreement has given explicit rights to use the AWS API. The legal rights around using the same API may be grey, but the right to brag about it has to be given by the original authors, surely? This bragging right is going to give Eucalyptus a lot of credibility and a head start over Openstack.
What about CloudFoundry, OpenShift and other cloud platforms? I have always avoided trying to define AWS in the context of cloud taxonomies, using the IaaS/PaaS/SaaS or any other taxonomy (see Amazon Web Services is not IaaS) and the reason is quite simple. AWS is pretty much the definition of cloud computing and all definitions have to bow down to AWSs dominance. After all, what’s the point of drawing little definition boxes if the gorilla doesn’t fit comfortably into any of them?
So what is really interesting about the Eucalyptus announcement is that it lends credibility to AWS as the definition of cloud computing (not just the market leader or early adopter). Using AWS as the definition and getting rid of all of the IaaS/PaaS crap makes it pretty easy for AWS to talk to the enterprise – far more than talking on-prem does.
As a side note, Microsoft seriously needs to get API compatibility between Windows Azure and on-prem Windows or else AWS is going to be having interesting conversations with Microsoft’s enterprise customers. (Considering their enterprise heritage I am at a complete loss at explaining why, after more than two years this is still the case)