But it deserves comment not because of what it says about the cloud, but about open source.
For several years corporations have spun open source straw into gold with a strategy dubbed "open core." This has many flavors, but basically you're making some "community edition" open, but requiring anyone to make it really work, in a business sense, to pay for support.
You do this by holding back what I term the "secret source," which could be a set of APIs, a user interface, or a key component.
This is separate from the issue of licensing, which was at the heart of my original "open source incline" piece in 2006. That incline was based on the idea that the GPL, since it gave equal rights over code to both large and small developers, would draw more contributors than a license like Apache, which lets you sell proprietary add-ons.
Many companies emerged from these early days of open source, using the GPL and open core to give people the idea that they would be treated equally. But it hasn't worked out that way. By controlling copyrights on code contributions, and keeping part of their code secret, the open core companies were able to induce cash flow even on folks who hadn't yet gotten value from what they were downloading.
Eucalyptus, now run by mySQL co-founder Marten Mickos (left), is an open core company. It implements something like the Amazon EC2 cloud, on your hardware. It's compatible. But it has an "open source" component and an "enterprise" component. If you really want the benefits, you "buy" the enterprise product.
This wasn't good enough for Ubuntu, which is among the most widely-used Linux distros and really needs a cloud strategy. Its decision to drop Eucalyptus in favor of Open Stack in future releases is a stab to the heart of open core. It's deliberate. And for Ubuntu it's necessary.
How will it work out in the marketplace? Well, EC2 is the dominant cloud right now. Open Stack isn't really built yet — it's still on its third release. So Ubuntu is taking a chance on a "truly open" cloud framework, betting it will work so its customers aren't forced to "buy" an open core solution.
It's a bet Ubuntu should win, given the fact that phone companies are also betting heavily on Open Stack. You're a fool to expect a phone company to fulfill any promise of future technology, but following phone companies as they seek technologies to implement isn't nearly as bad a bet.