Monthly Archives: July 2011

HP’s Support of OpenStack Affirms Open Source, Inter-Operable Cloud Solutions

HP became the latest technology behemoth to support OpenStack, joining company with the likes of AMD, Canonical, Cisco, Dell, Intel and Citrix on July 27. Emil Sayegh, HP’s VP of Cloud Services, announced Hewlett Packard’s support for OpenStack in a blog post featuring the following highlights:

• Recognition of the importance of open source, inter-operable solutions for the cloud computing industry
• Active participation in the OpenStack community
• Sponsorship of the OpenStack Design Summit and OpenStack Conference in October 2011.
• Belief that collaboration with OpenStack marks an “opportunity to enable customers, partners and developers with unique infrastructure and development solutions across public, private and hybrid cloud environments.”

The last bullet point indicates that HP is likely to deliver hardware that comes pre-loaded with OpenStack software that can support customers seeking to build public, private and hybrid cloud computing deployments. HP’s affirmation of OpenStack arrived in conjunction with analogous but different affirmations from Nebula and Dell. Nebula announced its intent to launch an appliance pre-loaded with OpenStack software while Dell revealed details of an OpenStack Cloud Solution that enables customers to quickly deploy OpenStack based cloud solutions using a combination of hardware, software and professional services. OpenStack can now claim support from over 90 companies and more than 1200 contributors.

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Chris Kemp Announces Launch of Nebula And OpenStack Based Hardware Appliance

On July 27 at OSCON, the Open Source Convention in Portland, Oregon, former NASA CTO Chris Kemp announced details of Nebula, the startup that he launched in Palo Alto with the help of co-founders Devin Carlen and Steve O’Hara. Carlen, Nebula’s Vice President of Engineering, was formerly CTO of Anso Labs while O’Hara, Vice President of Business Development, is the founder of Prime Networks, OnFiber, and CoreLogic.

Nebula provides enterprise customers with a hardware appliance that enables rapid deployment of a private cloud environment using standardized hardware specifications. The appliance comes loaded with OpenStack software. On the hardware side, each appliance has a 10 GB switch with 48 ports that allow connections to 24 two rack (U) servers. Kemp elaborated on the features of Nebula’s appliance as follows:

Our little box has a 10 gigabit ethernet switch built into it. You can plug cheap commodity servers into the rack. You don’t have to turn them on. It will do that. The interface is like Amazon Services. These servers act as monitors by this appliance, including log files and flow data. What we do is create interface points to all of the common CMDB [Configuration Management Database] tools, managing tools, security tools, like ArcSight or Splunk.

In addition to OpenStack, the appliance comes loaded with security, management and networking functionality that allows it to integrate seamlessly with the requirements of an enterprise IT infrastructure. Users could well decide to connect multiple appliances together to obtain more storage capacity. Nebula’s appliance is intended to support Dell Series C servers as well as servers compatible with the Facebook Open Compute project. Intended for release in Q4 of 2011, the appliance is expected to democratize cloud computing by “allowing businesses to easily, securely and inexpensively deploy large private cloud computing infrastructures from thousands of inexpensive computers with minimal effort,” according to Nebula’s press release.

Categories: Nebula, OpenStack | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Piston Cloud Computing and Bromium Venture Into Cloud Security Space

Piston Cloud Computing recently completed a $4.5 million funding raise from Hummer Winblad and True Ventures, Divergent Ventures and other angel investors. According to the company’s blog, the company’s offering “extends the OpenStack cloud solution to address the security, performance, and lifecycle management problems in today’s hybrid cloud approaches, and specializes on the federation of large, complex datasets that have regulatory requirements for authentication and access control.” Right off the bat, Piston positions itself in the red hot cloud computing security space with reference to its ability to manage large-scale datasets with complex regulatory requirements regarding privacy and security issues. Piston Cloud Computing was founded in early 2011 by Josh McKenty, lead architect for NASA Nebula’s Cloud Infrastructure, and Chris MacGown, Technical Lead at Slicehost, which was acquired by Rackspace in 2008. Puneet Agrawal of True Ventures commented on True’s support of Piston as follows:

At True, we have been following OpenStack, the open source cloud operating system, very closely over the past year. What became clear quickly was that OpenStack was real and gaining momentum with developers in addition to large enterprises. The project now includes over 80 participating companies, including Dell, Cisco, Citrix, and Rackspace, among others…So when we had the opportunity to fund the lead architect behind its development, we jumped at the chance.

Agrawal’s remarks speak volumes about the respect had by OpenStack in investor circles. Piston represents just one of the recent commercializations of OpenStack, following closely open the heels of Citrix’s Project Olympus. The industry should expect more commercializations of OpenStack as companies lower the cost of development by incorporating OpenStack into the core of their cloud offering. Conversely, investors will watch the fortunes of projects such as Piston and Project Olympus closely in order to gauge the rigor of OpenStack’s process for incorporating code from contributors all over the world. Despite the fierce need for security products for the cloud infrastructure space, Piston faces stiff competition from a constellation of other companies gravitating to the cloud security space. For example, Bromium, a San Francisco based start-up that recently raised $9.2 million in Series A funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners, emerged from stealth mode in June and announced its operation at the intersection of “virtualization and security.” Peter Levine, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, noted that “Bromium turns today’s security model on its head and exploits virtualization and the latest hardware features to shift the balance of power in favor of the good guys.”

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OpenStack’s First Birthday: A Year in Review

OpenStack, the open source cloud computing project initiated by NASA and Rackspace, celebrated its first birthday on July 19. OpenStack’s open source code enables customers to create public or private cloud environments that deliver functionality analogous to that provided by private Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) vendors such as Amazon Web Services, Joyent or Verizon Terremark. The OpenStack project began with the support of 25 companies but has grown significantly over the last year to the point where it now claims the backing of 80 companies that collectively offer financial and technical support to a staff of 217 developers. Current contributors include AMD, Canonical, Cisco, Dell, Intel and Citrix and start-ups such as Piston Cloud Computing and Nephoscale.

OpenStack’s offering currently contains three components: (1) OpenStack Compute, which allows customers to create and manage a hypervisor agnostic cloud computing platform featuring a network of virtual machines; (2) OpenStack Object Storage, for storing petabytes of data; and (3) OpenStack Image Service, to take, store and provide copies of virtual running machines. The core of OpenStack’s offering, OpenStack Compute, allows customers to create an IaaS cloud environment using code that has been maintained under an Apache license.

Key OpenStack milestones during the last year include the following:

• March 30, 2011: Rackspace, Dell and Equinix announce plans to launch an OpenStack demo environment intended to entice customers to investigate OpenStack’s cloud computing products.
• May 10, 2011: Canonical’s decision that the 11.10 version of its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud would be based on OpenStack instead of Eucalyptus.
• May 25, 2011: Citrix reveals plans to deploy Project Olympus, the first commercialized version of OpenStack.
• July 12, 2011: Citrix acquires Cloud.com, and promises to build APIs between Cloud.com’s CloudStack platform and OpenStack.

Dubbed the Android of the cloud computing market, OpenStack promises to radically transform the cloud computing landscape by shifting market share from private cloud vendors such as Amazon Web Services and Verizon Terremark to an open source cloud operating system. The first year witnessed explosive development of OpenStack’s code, including three code releases named Austin, Bexar and Cactus, respectively. The fourth release, Diablo, is scheduled for distribution on September 22, 2011. OpenStack’s first year also witnessed notable deployments by Internap, Korea Telecom and Piston Cloud Computing.

In its second year, OpenStack aims to build upon its development progress by inaugurating more deployments in addition to rolling out new functionality such as networking support and identity management. If OpenStack continues to grow at a rate that comes anything close to what it displayed in its first year, expect it to leave an even larger footprint in the cloud computing space by the time of its second birthday in July 2012.

Categories: Canonical, IaaS, OpenStack | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Citrix Systems Boosts OpenStack With Cloud.com Acquisition

On July 12, Citrix Systems announced its acquisition of Cloud.com, the open source Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud computing platform that enables enterprises to create private or public cloud environments. Although the terms of the acquisition were not widely revealed, TechCrunch reports that Citrix Systems agreed to purchase Cloud.com for somewhere between $200 and $250 million. Citrix’s acquisition of Cloud.com comes less than two months after disclosure of its plans to commercialize OpenStack with Project Olympus, a product that allows customers to create IaaS cloud environments that leverage the OpenStack operating system code. The addition of Cloud.com’s CloudStack platform to Citrix’s product line means that Citrix can now claim ownership of XenServer hypervisor, XenApp, XenDesktop, Netscaler cloud networking products and the forthcoming Project Olympus. The acquisition of Cloud.com is expected to bolster OpenStack’s position in the cloud computing space because Citrix now promises to promote OpenStack utilization through the three pronged channel of Project Olympus, CloudStack APIs for OpenStack and its corporate support of OpenStack as an open source solution in contrast to a vendor such as Eucalyptus.

As a result of the acquisition, all Cloud.com employees will become part of Citrix. Cloud.com will henceforth be branded as Citrix CloudStack and belong to Citrix’s new Cloud Platforms Group. The acquisition gives Citrix a cluster of high profile customers such as Zynga Inc., GoDaddy.com, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Nokia Oyj and South Korean telecommunications company KT Corp that used Cloud.com to create internal cloud infrastructures. A June 17, 2011 GigaOm post by Derrick Harris notes that Zynga used Cloud.com to create its internal Z Cloud alongside RightScale as a tool to manage the union of its Amazon EC2 public cloud and Z Cloud.

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Zynga Pursues Mobile Growth Strategy with Acquisition of Five Mobile

Head upon the heels of its July 1 IPO announcement, Zynga announced the acquisition of Canadian mobile application development firm, Five Mobile on July 8. Five Mobile specializes in developing mobile applications for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms. The deal marks Zynga’s 15th acquisition in 13 months, and represents an aggressive move to diversify from the Facebook platform and capitalize upon the increasing popularity of mobile platforms for gaming purposes. Zynga noted that “Continue Mobile Growth” constituted a key component of its business strategy in its July 1 S-1 filing as follows:

Words with Friends is one of the leading social game franchises on mobile platforms. We believe there is a large opportunity to extend our brand and games to mobile platforms such as Apple iOS and Google Android. We will continue to make our games accessible on a large number of mobile and other Internet-connected devices and invest in developing and acquiring mobile development talent, technologies and content. Our DAUs on mobile platforms grew more than ten-fold from November 2010 to June 2011.”

The acquisition of Toronto based Five Mobile gives Zynga access to customers, products, talent and a base for its expansion in Canada. Five Mobile’s founders, Ameet Shah, Jeff Zakrzewski, Oliver Tabay, and Troy Hubman, will all join Zynga as part of the team of the renamed Five Mobile entity called Zynga Toronto. Five Mobile’s Managing Partner Ameet Shah will direct Zynga Toronto and report to David Ko, director of Zynga’s mobile operations. Zynga’s acquisition of Five Mobile promises to change the dynamics of the competition for engineering talent between Toronto and Waterloo. For years, Waterloo served as the hub of the startup community in Ontario due to the presence of companies such as Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the Blackberry product line. RIM brought an estimated 9000 employees to Waterloo and created a ripple effect on related companies and tech startups in the city. Zynga’s acquisition of Five Mobile recognizes the talent based in Toronto and promises to transform the geography of talented technical labor in Ontario, particularly given the recent interest of global companies interested in startups in the mobile and social media space.

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10 Things You Should Know About Zynga and Its IPO

Zynga, the social gaming company founded by Mark Pincus in 2007, hopes to raise $1 billion in an IPO that follows upon the heels of the LinkedIn and Groupon IPOs of the last few months. Zynga’s IPO is expected to offer 10 percent of its shares to the public at a valuation of $20 billion. Here are ten things you should know about Zynga and its July 1 S-1 filing.

1. Unlike Groupon, Zynga is profitable. The company reported $90.6 million in profit in 2010. In Q1 of 2011, Zynga reported an $11.8 million profit. Zynga’s 2010 revenues were $597.46 million. For the first quarter of 2011, its revenue was $235.42 million.

2. Zynga’s IPO features three categories of shares: Class A, B and C. Class A shares will be issued to public shareholders. Class B and C shares belong to senior executives and investors. CEO Mark Pincus owns all of the Class C shares. Pincus made almost $110 million by selling a percentage of his class B shares back to Zynga last March.

3. Zynga’s investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Union Square Ventures, DST Global, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Google, Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, Andreessen Horowitz, Tiger Global and Kevin Rose. Key investors own the following percentages of Class B Shares: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers owns 11%; IVP, Foundry Ventures and Avalon Ventures each own 6.1%; DST Global owns 5.8% and Union Square Ventures takes claim to 5.5%.

4. Zynga is the biggest developer of Facebook applications such as CityVille, FarmVille, Mafia Wars, Words with Friends and Zynga Poker. The company has 60 million daily active users on Facebook and more daily active users than the next 30 Facebook social game developers combined.

5. Zynga has the top two games in the word category for the Apple App Store for iPhone.

6. Zynga has 2000 employees that serve 148 million unique monthly users in 166 countries. Players create 38,000 virtual entities per second and spend 2 billion minutes a day gaming.

7. “Substantially all” of Zynga’s revenue derives from the Facebook platform. Any decisions made by Facebook that adversely affect Zynga’s gaming operations would have significant repercussions on its revenue stream.

8. Zynga sees its market opportunity in the context of: a) the growth of social networking; b) a culture of the “App Economy” whereby developers have access to social network platforms; and c) A “Free-to-Play” gaming culture that allows users to play games for free, thereby attracting a broader set of users and a richer ecosystem for social interaction within the gaming environment.

9. Zynga cites its cloud based technology infrastructure as one of its core strengths. Zynga uses Amazon’s EC2 platform as a testing stage for its applications before migrating them to its own cloud based infrastructure. The company’s cloud based infrastructure carries with it the ability to provision “tools have enabled us to add up to 1,000 servers in a 24-hour period in response to game demand,” according to its S-1 filing.

10. Notable challenges Zynga foresees include its dependence on Facebook, the small percentage of players that are responsible for company revenue, the challenge of developing quality games for mobile platforms and non-PC platforms more generally, and the difficulty of recruiting and maintaining world class talent.

Categories: Cloud Computing, Zynga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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