OpenStack's Mission Is Total Victory

Marten Mickos, the incoming head of HP's cloud efforts, sets an audacious goal for the open-source cloud.

Marten Mickos

When the OpenStack Silicon Valley conference schedule was first announced several months ago, Marten Mickos was best known as the CEO of Eucalyptus, which is a rival effort to OpenStack. Mickos' position is now set to change thanks to his company's acquisition by Hewlett-Packard, which was announced Sept. 11.

Mickos took the stage at the inaugural OpenStack Silicon Valley event today, after first being introduced by the man who will soon be his new boss—HP CTO Martin Fink. Fink joked that his company now has a policy of only hiring executives with the first name Martin, even if they spell it incorrectly like Mickos, who spells it Marten.

Although the acquisition has already been publicly announced, Mickos emphasized that the deal has not yet officially closed. As such, he noted that his comments are not made as an executive of HP, but rather as CEO of Eucalyptus and as an individual. When the acquisition does officially close, Mickos will become the senior vice president and general manager of HP's cloud business. HP's cloud business is based on OpenStack today, and it's a platform that Mickos now embraces openly.

Mickos said he has now joined the OpenStack Foundation as an individual member and will actively contribute his skills to the development of the organization.

"For the last one and a half decades, I have been trying to reach full victory for open source," Mickos said.

He explained that full victory is about making sure that users get the full benefit of software, while ensuring that software developers get full credit for what they do. Prior to Eucalyptus, Mickos was the CEO of open-source database vendor MySQL, which was acquired by Sun Microsystems for $1 billion in 2008. MySQL is a core component of a technology platform that became known as the LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) stack, which helped to enable the rise of the modern Web.

Although Mickos is now set to become part of the ecosystem, he said that he will be critical of OpenStack, when it makes sense.

"I believe that only by being honest and truthful about the state of things can you really improve them," Mickos said.

That said, Mickos noted that there are some very clear benefits in the open-source model of software development that provides a significant advantage for the cloud. One of those advantages is software modularity.

"We have to make modular products because we have so many disparate groups and people working on them," Mickos said. "We have competitors who collaborate on products, which doesn't happen in the closed-source world."

By being open, open source code is always available for scrutiny, which is a key part of the continuous improvement model.

"There is always somebody that has a complaint," Mickos said.

The fact that people complain about open-source software like MySQL is a sign of passion in Mickos' view—they have strong interest in a technology and want to see it improved. In his view, with open source, only good technology survives and there is less potential for vendor lock-in.

Mickos emphasized that overall full victory for open source in the cloud is possible with OpenStack.

"We did it with the LAMP stack in the Web era, and the LAMP stack was driven by many companies," Mickos said. "What we did in the Web era with the LAMP stack we are now doing in the cloud era with OpenStack."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.