Open any IT website or tech publication and you will find yourself quickly barraged by cloud computing, journeys to cloud computing, private clouds, ad nauseum. While most vendors are getting visibility with their cloud hype, the open source community is actually making a good deal of cloud computing progress. I've long been impressed by NASA's Nebula cloud platform which is based entirely on open source software. There was another announcement today which may have similar appeal and potential. With little buzz, Xen.org announced availability of the Xen Cloud Platform (XCP) 1.0. XCP is the whole cloud enchilada: hypervisor, network, storage, support for popular guest OSs, and management support. Furthermore, XCP integrates with the OpenStack Bexar release. To quote the press release, this software stack provides, "everything from bare metal support to cloud orchestration." XCP also provides a range of APIs and works with another of my favorite open source projects, Open vSwitch. Clearly VMware is in a good position to move its large and growing installed base from virtualization to the cloud overtime but XCP could be an attractive alternative in some cases because:1. It's free. Who is moving to cloud the fastest? In many cases, the answer is US State government and some federal agenices. Why? Money. For example, my colleague Mark Bowker and I spoke with the State of Michigan about 6 months ago to discuss its cloud plans. Michigan is going to the cloud because it doesn't have the money to provide IT services across the state unless it can find ways to significantly lower cost. Cloud computing will do this but I'm sure that organizations like the State of Michigan will look long and hard at open source cloud architectures like XCP before they are willing to shell out tons of dough for VMware licenses.2. It's likely to show up in Academia. Tech students all over the world are likely to kick the tires on XCP for the next several years. Just as they graduate, cloud computing should finally start to reach critical mass in the corporate world. Enterprises may decide that it makes sense to embrace XCP in order to align with this pool of skilled cloud technicians. 3. It plays well with Citrix XenServer and possibly Oracle. Citrix's multi-million dollar acquisition of XenServer was just accelerated by an open source booster rocket. XenServer fits neatly into XCP so Citrix can use its global distribution channel, technical strength, and installed base to sing the praises of XCP. Oh and Citrix management tools and support services bring added value to XCP as well. OracleVM is also Xen-based. Oracle won't likely make any public pronouncement about XCP, but if it takes off, Oracle will certainly jump on the bandwagon. Since IBM loves open source, don't be surprised if it also makes a play here. Cloud computing still has a long way to go and in spite of the industry razzle-dazzle, ESG data indicates that large organizations are proceeding cautiously and this will continue. Nevertheless, XCP gives them a free, open source platform to play with in their labs. Free certainly worked for Netscape and web browsing. It's not out of the question that XCP could provide the same type of kick start to cloud computing.