Last week, Google released the Beta version of the Google Cloud Monitoring platform. Derived from its May 2014 acquisition of Stackdriver, Google Cloud Monitoring enables users to obtain insight into the performance of Google App Engine, Google Compute Engine, Cloud Pub/Sub, and Cloud SQL. As noted in a blog post by Google’s Dan Belcher, Google Cloud Monitoring delivers integrated monitoring of infrastructure, systems, uptime, trend analysis and alerts by way of a SaaS application. In addition, Google Cloud Monitoring enables users to create aggregations of select resources for monitoring and leverage dashboards that elaborate on metrics such as latency, capacity, uptime and other performance-related metrics. The platform also enables users to configure alerts specifying the achievement of designated metrics as well as endpoint checks notifying users about the lack of availability of APIs, web servers and other “internet-facing resources.” The beta release of Google Cloud Monitoring comes after months of preparation that culminated in the ability of the Stackdriver-based cloud monitoring platform to support the needs of Amazon Web Services customers as well as Google Cloud Platform customers alike. The release also follows soon upon Google’s announcement of details of Google Cloud Trace, a Beta platform that allows users to analyze remote procedure calls (RPCs) created by a Google App Engine-based application to understand latency distributions between different RPCs and “performance bottlenecks” more generally. The larger significance of the Beta release of Google Cloud Monitoring is that it delivers a monitoring tool that can monitor both Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services infrastructures, whereas Amazon’s CloudWatch, for example, is dedicated solely to monitoring the AWS platform. For now, though, the product underscores Google’s commitment to building its IaaS infrastructure as exemplified by two Beta releases within the space of the early weeks of 2015.
Apprenda and Piston Cloud Computing have partnered to deliver a turnkey IaaS and PaaS that enables developers to create Java and .NET cloud-based applications. The integrated platform delivers “policy based access to OpenStack™ APIs” to enable Apprenda customers to expeditiously leverage OpenStack technologies. The partnership empowers Apprenda customers to take advantage of the simplicity of Piston’s platform for creating IaaS environments as the underlying infrastructure for their PaaS deployments. Conversely, Piston Customers can use Apprenda’s PaaS to create Java and .NET applications that reap the benefits of Apprenda’s enterprise-grade security and advanced functionality for the implementation of policies and procedures. Apprenda’s partnership with Piston builds upon a recent collaboration with Microsoft Azure that illustrates Apprenda’s strategy of teaming up with well known IaaS vendors as a means of gaining more market traction for its PaaS platform. Meanwhile, Piston customers may be surprised by its choice to partner with Apprenda given its close relationship with Cloud Foundry, but the collaboration clearly focuses on rendering Piston more available to Apprenda customers in contrast to prioritizing one PaaS platform over another. The partnership between Apprenda and Piston underscores the increasing co-implication of PaaS and IaaS within the cloud computing industry as PaaS players, in particular, attempt to seed their products on the infrastructures of IaaS vendors to enhance their market visibility and overall positioning.
Q&A With Simon Aspinall, President of Virtustream’s Service Provider Business Regarding Virtustream’s Recent Momentum
Cloud Computing Today recently had the privilege of conducting a Q&A with Simon Aspinall, President of the Service Provider Business at Virtustream. The Q&A was initiated in the wake of Virtustream’s recent announcement of its intent to file an IPO within the next 6-12 months, news of its projected $100M revenue for 2014 and The Forrester Wave™: Hosted Private Cloud Solutions, Q4 2014 designation of Virtustream as a leader in hosted private cloud solutions ahead of the likes of HP, Dell, CenturyLink, Rackspace and Verizon.
Cloud Computing Today: How would you describe Virtustream’s recent momentum in both the public cloud and the hosted private cloud space? What are some key successes the company has achieved over the last 12 months?
Simon Aspinall (Virtustream): On November 18, Forrester named Virtustream the leader in their Hosted Private Cloud report, ahead of Rackspace, Dell, VMware, HP and others. Gartner also recently rated Virtustream as the most secure and compliant cloud provider, mentioning the strength of our enterprise application ability. This level of industry recognition and the company’s rapid global expansion and momentum continue to catapult the growing demand for Virtustream’s enterprise cloud services. Virtustream’s xStream cloud management software also delivers private clouds for enterprises, enterprise-class public clouds for service providers (SPs), and combinations in hybrid clouds. Virtustream has added a large number of major enterprise customers, service provider and government customers in the last 12 months – and demand keeps growing. Examples include service providers around the world using Virtustream to power their public clouds, including UOL in Brazil, COLT in Europe, Etisalat Mobily in the middle east and IBM globally (for workloads on SoftLayer). Virtustream also provides our own cloud IaaS service in the US and EU for a diverse set of customers such as Domino Sugar, Heinz and Veyance Technologies, among many others.
In the past 12 months, Virtustream has grown significantly to keep up with this demand, including the acquisition of ViewTrust, a security and compliance company to boost our security portfolio, in February 2014. In May 2014, the company announced a partnership with IBM. Most recently, the company announced several key corporate milestones including adding multiple new data center locations to support global expansion and two conditionally certified United States federal cloud nodes.
Cloud Computing Today: How do you envision Virtustream’s differentiation in the hosted private cloud space? Alternatively, how would you describe the market landscape within the hosted private cloud space at large and Virtustream’s positioning within that space?
Simon Aspinall (Virtustream): In less than five years, Virtustream has established a significant footprint in the enterprise cloud market, taking market share from larger competitors. Virtustream differentiates in the market by providing unrivaled levels of security, compliance and performance for mission-critical enterprise applications (like SAP, Microsoft, Oracle and custom apps). Virtustream is one of the only vendors to receive a five star security rating from Gartner. Most cloud vendors today offer basic shared public cloud (good for devops, backup/dr or new SaaS apps)or dedicated virtual machines. Virtsutream differentiates by offering highly secure, compliant and performance SLAs for the most complex and critical applications. This enables us to offer a unique virtual private cloud, public cloud and private cloud software offer in the market.
Virtustream’s xStream cloud software assists customers to meet mandatory legislative requirements, and to achieve and maintain leading cloud certifications and compliance frameworks in the customer’s own environment and the cloud (when coupled with identified operational and management controls). With its recent acquisition of privately-held ViewTrust Technology, Inc., an advanced security and compliance technology firm specializing in solutions for government customers worldwide, Virtustream is well positioned to enhance its portfolio of products, adding security-related IP to both the hybrid and core policy engine.
Recent industry trends and events have further driven Virtustream’s growth as enterprises look to vendors for enhanced security, compliance and privacy features. The recent Snowden leaks is one example of this, having driven tremendous growth for Virtustream over the past year, as Gartner recently ranked the company highest among all enterprise CSPs for security functionality.
The market has seen Cisco and HP acquire cloud service companies in a play to gain market share in this growing industry, with many other large players looking to do the same to bolster their cloud offerings. The space is heating up as businesses understand that cloud can be applied to their entire IT base and companies providing managed and private/public cloud services are poised for a big year in 2015, with Virtustream playing a key role.
Cloud Computing Today: What are the key challenges you foresee in the upcoming 6-12 months as Virtustream continues to consolidate its recent momentum?
Simon Aspinall (Virtustream): From Virtustream’s perspective we’re growing and partnering rapidly to meet the enormous demand. We’re focused on maintaining the highest levels of service for our customers and we’re continuing our cutting edge innovation throughout the next 12 months and beyond.
There are only a couple of challenges to Virtustream’s growth at the moment, including:
1. The level of knowledge of cloud is still limited in many sectors (as many IT teams are unaware that they can run critical existing applications on the cloud today).
2. In certain IT teams there can be fear of adopting cloud in case it disrupts existing staff and processes. Both of these limitations are disappearing quickly as information is more widely available.
Simon Aspinall Bio
Simon Aspinall is the President of Virtustream’s Service Provider Business. In his role, Simon runs Virtustream’s global business with service providers and manages Virtustream’s business outside the US.Simon has built a significant business worldwide for Virtustream with service providers, governments and enterprises. His activities have helped to drive Virtustream’s expansion of its xStream software business, enterprise-class IAAS services and cloud managed services. As Virtustream enters new markets and geographies outside the US, Simon’s role is to rapidly develop these new sectors and grow Virtustream’s business through both Virtustream’s direct sales team and partners. For the Cloud Service Provider business, it is Simon’s role to maximize Virtustream’s growth and profitability worldwide with leading service providers and channel partners, and also leading and managing Virtustream’s businesses outside the US. Previously Simon has also been responsible for Virtustream’s Strategy and run Virtustream’s vertical markets business. Simon holds a master’s degree in engineering and computer science from Oxford University, and a master’s degree in business administration from INSEAD. He is a frequent speaker at industry events and a commentator on the IT, telecom, and networking sectors.
Piston OpenStack 3.5 Brings Simplicity Of Apple Alongside AWS-like Functionality To OpenStack And IaaS
Piston Cloud Computing today announces the availability of Piston OpenStack 3.5 for enterprise-grade IaaS platforms for private clouds. Piston OpenStack 3.5 features support for OpenStack Icehouse, the latest release of the open source IaaS collaboration from the OpenStack Foundation. Version 3.5 of Piston’s commercial variant of OpenStack features support for Intel® Trusted Execution Technology (Intel® TXT) for enhanced hardware-based security that mitigates against threats posed by “hypervisor attacks, BIOS or other firmware attacks, malicious root kit installations, or other software attacks.” This release also features enhanced support for rolling upgrades including live migration that enables customers to seamlessly migrate their deployments from one version of OpenStack to another with zero downtime. In conjunction with the news of today’s release, Piston revealed a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculator that allows customers to compare the cost of Piston deployments with Amazon Web Services. When asked whether the TCO reflected prices of other well known IaaS platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Engine, Piston CTO and co-founder Joshua McKenty noted that AWS represents the sole vendor used for comparison because it has become the standard for IaaS price comparisons. In a phone interview with Cloud Computing Today, McKenty also noted that Piston typically weighs in at roughly 1/3 the price of a comparable AWS deployment and thereby competes with IaaS vendors not only in price, but also with respect to operational simplicity and of course, interoperability as well.
In all, today’s release delivers a significant, no-frills upgrade to February’s Piston OpenStack 3.0 release that underscores Piston’s commitment to bringing Apple-like simplicity to OpenStack deployments. Piston OpenStack just works in much the same vein as Apple products in bringing consumers premium level functionality without miring users in the intricacies of OpenStack that have traditionally been reserved for its power users. Piston customer Solidify Security expanded on Piston’s commitment to doing the “boring” work of delivering IT infrastructures for application development as follows:
We believe your ability to install, configure, integrate, maintain and life cycle applications shouldn’t stop you from having access to tools that will help you create an active security footprint. Piston is very much built from the same cloth. They believe in doing the hard boring things very well, leaving our team time to focus on building PaaS and SaaS offerings, and not on running our cluster. Piston has been able to do that and more with Piston OpenStack. With just a few considerations for compatibility we were able to select our hardware from a wide variety of vendors. And in one short afternoon we had our code migrated and own internal cluster up and running at a price previously thought out of reach.
Here, the Solidify Security team testifies to Piston’s unique focus on facilitating rapid, low cost deployments of infrastructure that enables them to “focus on building PaaS and SaaS offerings” instead of provisioning and configuring hardware. Piston’s ability to simplify OpenStack deployment and operations as indicated here may well be a game changer in the OpenStack space given OpenStack’s reputation for complexity and intensely manual deployments. That Piston appears to have cracked the nut regarding the commoditization of OpenStack bodes well not only for Piston, but for the OpenStack community at large, which stands to benefit immensely from the lead taken by McKenty’s visionary focus on delivering a product that blends the AWS-like functionality with the simplicity of Apple for private cloud IaaS deployments. Expect Piston’s reputation for user friendly products that excel at doing a few things well to propel increased market traction as its reputation for simplicity and value continues to proliferate in the OpenStack and IaaS communities.
IaaS Vendor CloudSigma Expands Presence In U.S. By Partnering With Equinix Locations In Silicon Valley And Miami
Public cloud IaaS vendor CloudSigma recently announced the expansion of its U.S. public cloud presence by adding service locations based at Equinix’s Silicon Valley and Boca Raton datacenters. The addition of the Silicon Valley and Boca Raton locations to CloudSigma’s Equinix Washington D.C. datacenter will reduce latency and improve performance and redundancy for customers in the U.S. CloudSigma CEO Robert Jenkins remarked on the significance of the company’s presence in Silicon Valley and Miami as follows:
Both Silicon Valley and Miami are regions where we are committed to serving with increased performance. Silicon Valley is already ahead of the curve in many respects when it comes to the cloud and cloud-based compute resources, but we also see a lot of promise with Latin America as companies go straight to the cloud to deal with the explosive growth they’re experiencing, especially in mobile services. These types of native cloud apps, alongside the progress we’re seeing with Internet of Things and Web services being developed in our cloud, will further the success of this expansion and lay the groundwork for more locations in the near future.
Here, Jenkins remarks on the promise implicit in the ability of both facilities, and the Miami facility in particular, to expand CloudSigma’s market penetration in Latin America. Jenkins understands CloudSigma’s expanded U.S. presence as facilitating the explosive growth in cloud-based mobile apps, in addition to emerging verticals specific to the internet of things. CloudSigma’s expanded partnership with Equinix reveals an astute strategic move to capture IaaS market share in Latin America while concurrently improving latency, performance and redundancy for U.S. and Latin American customers alike. The deal represents an especially strong coup for CloudSigma because improvements in latency are likely to be critical for the emerging proliferation of use cases marked by the confluence of big data and cloud computing platforms. As such, CloudSigma positions itself as another significant IaaS player in the North American market that lies poised to take advantage of hiccups from major IaaS vendors such as the Azure outage from the last week.
Rackspace recently announced details of a managed cloud service plan that gives customers the opportunity to take advantage of managed services for their cloud deployments. The managed cloud service plan comes in two forms: (1) managed infrastructure, which provides advisory services regarding infrastructure set-up and architecture; and (2) managed operations, which enables Rackspace engineers to access customer servers to tweak code as necessary. The managed infrastructure and operations offerings represent Rackspace’s attempt to differentiate itself from competitors such as Amazon Web Services and Windows Azure, both of which demand greater responsibility on the part of developers and IT staff to provision, configure, deploy and manage Infrastructure as a Service environments. The introduction of the managed cloud service pivots on Rackspace’s famed “fanatical support” by building on the company’s strengths as a leader in consultative support for IaaS deployment and management. Rackspace President Taylor Rhodes summarized the new managed cloud offerings as follows:
Our basic level, called Managed Infrastructure, offers Fanatical Support with much more managed service than do the more-expensive, premium service levels offered by many of our competitors. Our higher service level, called Managed Operations, provides even more managed services, up the stack into the support of application level — addressing customer needs that most of our rivals won’t even touch.
Components of the managed infrastructure offering include architectural advice, support for workload migration and scaling, launch assistance and round the clock availability of cloud engineers to troubleshoot and resolve issues. Managed operations additionally delivers support for operating systems, web servers, database servers, cloud databases, cloud backup and monitoring and user provisioning and permissions. Rackspace’s managed infrastructure offering is priced at $.005/GB, assuming a $50 minimum per month while managed operations is priced at $.02/GB, with a $500 monthly minimum. In addition to its managed cloud service, Rackspace announced details of an expanded program for developers and more transparent pricing. Altogether, Rackspace’s new managed cloud offering is likely to give it some short term publicity and inject new life into its ailing IaaS positioning, but the San Antonio-based company will need a deeper transformation if it intends to seriously compete with the big players in the IaaS space, particularly given that competitors such as Amazon Web Services already partner with other vendors to offer managed services comparable to those revealed by Rackspace last Tuesday.
Datapipe today announced an expansion of its Managed Cloud for Amazon Web Services offering marked by the availability of enhanced functionality related to cloud security, risk management, the creation of hybrid cloud infrastructures and operational analytics. As an AWS Premier Consulting Partner, Datapipe’s Managed Cloud for Amazon Web Services delivers a fully managed solution for customers who would like to take advantage of the Amazon Web Services platform and its extraordinary range of features and ancillary product offerings. Specifically, Datapipe offers services that include round the clock issue resolution and monitoring, managed cloud provisioning, cloud scaling, database management, workload migration, SharePoint as a Service and orchestration. As a result of today’s announcement, Datapipe offers enhanced security and risk management solutions including advanced identity management and authentication services, managed security and threat alerts, backup and recovery options that leverage hybrid cloud infrastructures such as Datapipe’s on-premise datacenters and enterprise-level governance and security policies. In addition, Datapipe launches a “Managed hybrid cloud connect” solution that allows customers to create hybrid cloud infrastructures composed of the Amazon Web Services Cloud with Datapipe’s on-premise datacenters in Seattle, WA, Silicon Valley, Ashburn, VA, London and Singapore. Importantly, Datapipe’s “Managed hybrid cloud connect” solution leverages AWS Direct Connect, the dedicated connection to Amazon Web Services that bypasses the public internet. Finally, Datapipe revealed the availability of operational analytics about a customer’s AWS infrastructure that enables customers to track usage trends and operational KPIs towards the end of optimizing the performance of their deployments. Today’s announcement by Datapipe underscores the heterogeneity of strategic alliances in the IaaS space whereby vendors such as Datapipe partner with a leading IaaS player to deliver a fully managed offering with an increasingly rich range of features that enables enterprise customers to access a turnkey solution that meets their needs for infrastructure monitoring, security, data resilience and analytics. The industry should expect more vendors to offer managed cloud solutions on the platforms of major IaaS players as the market for cloud services continues to skyrocket and the need for cloud-related managed services increased in tandem.