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U.S. Department of Agriculture

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Not everyone wants to run their applications on the public cloud. Their reasons can vary widely. Some companies don’t want the crown jewels of their intellectual property leaving the confines of their own premises. Some just like having things run on a server they can see and touch.

But there’s no denying the attraction of services like Amazon Web Services or Joyent or Rackspace, where you can spin up and configure a new virtual machine within minutes of figuring out that you need it. So, many companies seek to approximate the experience they would get from a public cloud provider on their own internal infrastructure.

It turns out that a start-up I had never heard of before this week is the most widely deployed platform for running these “private clouds,” and it’s not a bad business. Eucalyptus Systems essentially enables the same functionality on your own servers that you would expect from a cloud provider.

Eucalyptus said today that it has raised a $30 million Series C round of venture capital funding led by Institutional Venture Partners. Steve Harrick, general partner at IVP, will join the Eucalyptus board. Existing investors, including Benchmark Capital, BV Capital and New Enterprise Associates, are also in on the round. The funding brings Eucalyptus’ total capital raised to north of $50 million.

The company has an impressive roster of customers: Sony, Intercontinental Hotels, Raytheon, and the athletic-apparel group Puma. There are also several government customers, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, NASA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense.

In March, Eucalyptus signed a deal with Amazon to allow customers of both to migrate their workloads between the private and public environments. The point here is to give companies the flexibility they need to run their computing workloads in a mixed environment, or move them back and forth as needed. They could also operate them in tandem.

Key to this is a provision of the deal with Amazon that gives Eucalyptus access to Amazon’s APIs. What that means is that you can run processes on your own servers that are fully compatible with Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3), or its Elastic Compute cloud, known as EC2. “We’ve removed all the hurdles that might have been in the way of moving workloads,” Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos told me. The company has similar deals in place with Wipro Infotech in India and CETC32 in China.

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In the chill of a damp spring morning, ranchers at the Bledsoe ranch in Hugo, Colo., castrate, vaccinate and brand young calves.

All photographs by Matthew Staver for The Wall Street Journal.

J.D. Schier watches cows walk into a different pen after ranchers branded calves with the ‘frying pan’ brand on the Bledsoe ranch on May 12.

Bill Bledsoe holds the hot branding iron, as Dallas Loutzenhiser, left, J.D. Schier and Wil Bledsoe help hold down the calf. The ranchers’ practiced motions take just 60 to 90 seconds per animal.

Two red-hot branding irons are pressed to the flank of a calf to leave the signature mark.

Branding day has unfolded this way for generations on ranches all across the West. But ranchers from Colorado to Oregon, from Montana to Texas, worry that the tradition is under threat.

A sign along the fence-line near a home on the Bledsoe ranch shows a few different brands, along the bottom, including the ‘frying pan’ brand the ranchers used that morning.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced plans to rewrite its regulations so that hot-iron brands will no longer be recognized as an official form of identification for cattle sold or shipped across state lines

Instead, the USDA wants every cow to have a unique numerical ID, stamped on an inexpensive ear tag, to make it easier to track individual animals from ranch to feedlot to slaughterhouse. Here, Wil Bledsoe counts cows after they branded calves.

The proposed regulation won’t bar ranchers from branding their livestock. Individual states will be free to recognize brands as official ID if they so choose. Here, a recently branded calf at Bledsoe ranch is back out in a pen.

‘When government steps in, they like to make things more complex,’ Wil Bledsoe said. ‘Branding’s the simplest, most efficient way to do it. Why change?’ Here, Wil Blesdoe heads back for lunch after a morning of branding calves.

All photographs by Matthew Staver for The Wall Street Journal.

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