For the Ubuntu cloud strategy to succeed, Canonical is going to need a big assist from Eucalyptus Systems -- which makes the engine within the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC). But who exactly is Eucalyptus and is the company making progress with its own cloud efforts? Here's an update.

Let's start with funding and business strategy. Back in April 2009, Eucalyptus Systems said it closed $5.5 million in Series A venture financing led by Benchmark Capital with BV Capital also participating. Armed with the funding, Eucalyptus said it's striving to "support the open source Eucalyptus cloud platform and to deliver on-premise private and hybrid cloud computing solutions for large-scale enterprise deployments."

Eucalyptus stands for "Elastic Utility Computing Architecture for Linking Your Programs to Useful Systems." As of April 2009, Eucalyptus had been downloaded over 14,000 times in 72 countries. Also, Eucalyptus has shipped with every copy of Ubuntu Server Edition since version 9.04 launched in April 2009.

Eucalyptus turns data center resources such as machines, networks, and storage systems into a cloud that is controlled and customized by local IT. With Eucalyptus, businesses of any size can leverage their own IT resources to get the benefits of cloud computing without the concerns of lock-in, security ambiguity and unexpected storage costs that can be associated with public clouds, the company says.

Recent Moves

Eucalyptus in early November 2009 released the first major update to its open-source cloud computing software. The update adds support for multiple clusters, enhanced concurrency management to improve scaling, and new monitoring capabilities, Eucalyptus says.

In a prepared statement, Eucalyptus Co-founder and CTO Rich Wolpak added:
"Our goals for this significant new release are two-fold. First, we enhanced the flexibility with which Eucalyptus can be deployed so that it can take greater advantage of the IT hardware, software, security, and organizational policies already in place in the data center. Secondly, we have concentrated on engineering better performance into the platform itself to enhance scale."
But who's using Eucalyptus? And are any businesses deploying Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC)? Those are two key questions we're exploring right now.

Additional reporting by Joe Panettieri. Follow WorksWithU via Identi.ca, Twitter and RSS (available now) and our newsletter (coming soon).