Roughly six months after HP acquired Eucalyptus in September 2014 and vaulted Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos to the position of SVP and General Manager of the HP Cloud, Mickos will be assuming a new role. Mickos’s new position will involve “customer engagement” and “the different communities required to accelerate HP’s progress” as reported in The Register. In his new role, Mickos will tap into his deep knowledge of the technology landscape to help identify technology companies that can support HP’s larger cloud aspirations and vision. Meanwhile, Bill Hilf will take responsibility for product strategy and management, Kerry Bailey will lead sales and Mark Interrante will take over Helion cloud engineering. Mickos’s position at HP was always in question given that Eucalyptus provided open source software for private clouds that are interoperable with Amazon Web Services. HP’s Helion, on the other hand, is based on the open source IaaS technology platform OpenStack, which stands in direct confrontation with proprietary IaaS platforms such as Amazon Web Services.
Mickos’s new role at HP represents a mystifying shuffle given that his pedigree for commercializing open source software is virtually unparalleled in the industry as evinced by his success with MySQL and Eucalyptus. Even though HP Helion does not support Amazon Web Services in the way that Eucalyptus did, for example, it leverages open source technology at its core in the form of OpenStack and as such, one could reasonably assume that Mickos would be the personality to lead Helion to IaaS prominence. All this suggests that HP is in dire need of defining its cloud strategy with respect to Helion and how it plans to differentiate itself in the commercial OpenStack space. There is also the question of how HP plans to integrate Eucalyptus into its product portfolio and benefit from the acquisition, particularly given the lesser degree of responsibility now assigned to former Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos.
HP announced plans to acquire Eucalyptus, the company whose open source private cloud software interoperates with Amazon Web Services, on Thursday, September 11. Under the terms of the agreement, Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos will lead HP’s cloud business as Senior Vice President and General Manager and report directly to Meg Whitman, HP’s President and CEO. Mickos, a longtime critic of the OpenStack project, has recently adopted a more conciliatory approach with respect to OpenStack in what was, in hindsight, rhetorical positioning for his role at HP as leader of the OpenStack-based HP Helion cloud product portfolio. Despite his historical criticism of OpenStack, Mickos has an enviable pedigree for commercializing open source software as the prior CEO of MySQL, now one of the most widely used open source software products in the world. HP CEO Meg Whitman elaborated on Mickos’s pedigree for the position as follows:
The addition of Marten to HP’s world-class Cloud leadership team will strengthen and accelerate the strategy we’ve had in place for more than three years, which is to help businesses build, consume and manage open source hybrid clouds. Marten will enhance HP’s outstanding bench of Cloud executives and expand HP Helion capabilities, giving customers more choice and greater control of private and hybrid cloud solutions.
As Whitman notes, HP’s acquisition of Eucalyptus strengthens its position with respect to hybrid cloud solutions for the enterprise, particularly given the success had by Eucalyptus in interoperating its private clouds with the Amazon Web Services public cloud. Moreover, the experience of Mickos in successfully commercializing open source software suddenly vaults HP’s chances of succeeding in the commercial OpenStack space to the level of Red Hat, IBM and Piston Cloud Computing, whereas previously its Helion cloud portfolio evinced little in the way of a promising commercialization strategy or roadmap. Even though details of the integration of Eucalyptus with HP remain scant, the one certainty that results from HP’s acquisition of Eucalyptus is that the market dynamics within the commercial OpenStack space have now shifted dramatically, almost as if overnight. The rest remains to be seen as Mickos has his work cut out for him if he is indeed going to rescue HP from the abyss of empty OpenStack rhetoric to a promising, full fledged product that can compete with the likes of Piston, who have already demonstrated success in mitigating the complexities specific to OpenStack deployment and operations by way of their Piston OpenStack platform. As a result of the acquisition, Martin Fink, the current leader of HP’s cloud business will continue as CTO. Terms of the purchase of Eucalyptus were not disclosed although sources close to the deal speculate that the acquisition price was less than $100M for its technology and 70 or so employees. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of HP’s 2014 fiscal year.