The creators of an open source platform for building private clouds, are dipping their toes into commercial waters havingl aunched a company to sell products based on the software.

Eucalyptus Systems promises to sell enterprise-grade products based on Eucalyptus, which is designed to aggregate servers, storage and network infrastructure into a "cloud" that allows end-user customisation and self-service provisioning. Eucalyptus supports the same APIs as public clouds, and is compatible with Amazon's Web Services infrastructure, letting users deploy hybrid clouds consisting of internal and external resources.

"The Eucalyptus design gives users the flexibility to seamlessly move applications from on-premise Eucalyptus clouds to public clouds, and vice versa," the company said. "Eucalyptus also makes it easy to deploy 'hybrid' clouds, which use public and private cloud resources together to get the unique benefits of each."

Eucalyptus Systems has seven founders including CEO Woody Rollins and CTO Rich Wolski, a UC-Santa Barbara computer science professor whose research group began designing Eucalyptus in 2007. The $5.5 million in Series A funding comes from Benchmark Capital and BV Capital.

"Eucalyptus Systems will enable businesses of any size to 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," Wolski said in a press release issued Wednesday.

The Eucalyptus software is still available as a free download on a separate website, with Wolski serving as director of the open source project.