After exiting from stealth in June, infrastructure analytics vendor AppFormix today announced a partnership with OpenStack vendor Mirantis. AppFormix will integrate with IaaS deployments based on the Mirantis OpenStack distribution to deliver analytics about resource utilization and performance in addition to identifying resource bottlenecks and remediating resource contention. Given its focus on understanding how infrastructure components perform within a larger ecosystem of infrastructure, applications and data feeds, AppFormix fills a critical niche within the OpenStack community with respect to real-time analytics related to infrastructure. In addition to delivering timely analytics about OpenStack infrastructure, AppFormix gives customers data-driven recommendations about how they can reconfigure or tweak their deployments to optimize infrastructure and application performance. As told to Cloud Computing Today in an interview with AppFormix CEO Sumeet Singh, AppFormix also provides a rich visual interface that provides customers with real-time experience regarding the status of infrastructure and its consumption of application and data-related resources. The partnership between AppFormix and Mirantis positions AppFormix strongly to take a leadership position with respect to infrastructure analytics for OpenStack although, as Singh noted, Mirantis represents the only free standing commercial OpenStack vendor in light of the acquisitions of startups such as Piston Cloud Computing, Cloudscaling and Metacloud. In the meantime, AppFormix plans to further develop the capability of its platform to support infrastructure analytics in other cloud environments as it continues to reinforce the value of real-time data about cloud and container infrastructures.
Here are three quick thoughts on Google’s recent decision to become a corporate sponsor of OpenStack:
1. Google’s support of OpenStack marks one of the biggest endorsements to date of OpenStack, and as such, bolsters the credibility of the platform even further. Even though OpenStack is currently endorsed by the likes of Platinum Members Red Hat, IBM, HP and Rackspace, Google’s announcement constitutes an especially significant announcement given its ownership of a competitor public cloud IaaS platform in the form of the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Google’s endorsement suggests that the days of OpenStack’s segregation from proprietary public clouds such as the Google Cloud Platform, AWS and Microsoft Azure may well be numbered and that the IaaS space may well end up developing APIs from proprietary platforms to OpenStack in the foreseeable future.
2. The cloud computing industry is increasingly coming to terms with hybrid cloud infrastructures and the necessity for interoperability across different cloud ecosystems. By supporting OpenStack, Google embraces cloud hybridity and in particular, the necessity for Kubernetes to integrate deeply with the OpenStack ecosystem. Given that enterprises almost invariably embrace some combination of private and public clouds as part of their larger cloud strategy, Google’s support of OpenStack constitutes an emphatic affirmation not only of OpenStack, but also of the criticality of hybrid cloud infrastructures and management frameworks at this stage of the evolution of cloud computing.
3. Google’s collaboration with OpenStack on the Kubernetes project underscores the emerging ascendancy of containers to contemporary cloud computing as an alternative and complement to virtual machine based computing. By working with OpenStack to ensure the compatibility of Kubernetes as part of Project Magnum, Google is betting big on increased adoption of container technology throughout the industry. Furthermore, Google is placing its bet that Kubernetes, as opposed to other container management frameworks, has the pizazz to emerge as one of the premier container management frameworks in the industry, particularly in light of its forthcoming, deepened integration with OpenStack.
On Thursday, Google announced its sponsorship of the OpenStack Foundation as a corporate sponsor. As noted in a blog post, Google’s decision to join the OpenStack Foundation is motivated by industry trends toward adoption of hybrid clouds and container-based application development. By sponsoring OpenStack, Google is expected to contribute heavily to OpenStack Magnum, the project that aspires to ensure the compatibility of container orchestration platforms such as Docker and Kubernetes with OpenStack. Google’s contribution toward the integration of Kubernetes with OpenStack is expected to accelerate the adoption of container technologies and thereby facilitate development of more robust hybrid cloud infrastructures marked by the union of increasingly heterogeneous computing infrastructures. Google’s sponsorship of OpenStack represents a huge coup for the OpenStack Foundation and marks another notable twist in the ongoing battle for cloud market share amongst the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
In a presentation from Day 1 of the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, Jonathon Bryce, Executive Director of the OpenStack Foundation announced the rollout of the initial round interoperability protocols and testing to ensure that OpenStack distributions successfully interoperate with one another. Currently, 16 companies have interoperability testing results available and the OpenStack Foundation plans to ensure the application of its interoperability testing on all OpenStack-branded products during the remainder of 2015. Bryce also notes that over 30 OpenStack products and services in the marketplace have pledged to support federated identity. Bryce’s elaboration on the aggressiveness of the OpenStack Foundation’s efforts to ensure the development of a common OpenStack core stack across all distributions suggests that OpenStack is likely to live up to the promise of interoperability and open standards that constituted part of its core vision as an open source IaaS platform that allows customers to migrate workloads from one OpenStack environment to another with ease. Companies that have produced live interoperability results at present include IBM, SwiftStack, Red Hat, Bluebox, Rackspace and Mirantis.
Pivotal and Mirantis recently announced a partnership whereby Pivotal will support deployments of Pivotal Cloud Foundry on the Mirantis OpenStack platform. Meanwhile, Mirantis will resell Pivotal Cloud Foundry to its IaaS customers. The partnership between Pivotal and Mirantis reinforces the integration between OpenStack and Cloud Foundry by bringing together two leading open source technologies in the cloud computing space and delivering a full stack marked by infrastructure provisioning and management capabilities in addition to agile application development functionality. As noted in a Pivotal blog post, customers can deploy Pivotal Cloud Foundry on Mirantis OpenStack by following a runbook that streamlines its deployment. The collaboration between Pivotal and Cloud Foundry underscores the ascendancy of open source cloud computing technologies that are predicated upon transparent governance frameworks and the contributions of developers and organizations from all over the world. By offering Pivotal Cloud Foundry on top of Mirantis OpenStack, Pivotal and Mirantis render available an on demand solution that absolves companies of the hassle of integrating an application development platform into an infrastructure deployment. The partnership gives Mirantis the feather in its cap constituted by an enterprise-grade PaaS in the form of Pivotal Cloud Foundry. Correspondingly, Pivotal benefits from the increased sales channel exposure enabled by access to Mirantis customers. The real winner from this partnership, however, is OpenStack insofar as it continues to cement its reputation for having the ability to integrate with major PaaS, database and Big Data technologies as recently exemplified by the agreement between Oracle regarding its Database as a Service and Mirantis, and Piston Cloud’s announcement of Piston OS 4.0.
Piston Cloud Computing today announced the availability of Piston Cloud OS 4.0, an operating system that builds upon the company’s platform for deploying enterprise-grade OpenStack deployments by enabling customers to deploy Hadoop and Spark on bare metal. In addition to support for Hadoop and Spark, Piston CloudOS 4.0 will support Kubernetes, Mesos and Docker Swarm in a forthcoming release. As such, Piston CloudOS 4.0 represents a notable expansion of Piston CloudOS because it aims to support the larger vision of empowering enterprises to quickly deploy the infrastructure and applications they need by using a unified platform in contrast to siloed platforms and interfaces. In its current state, Piston CloudOS 4.0 supports the open source Apache Hadoop distribution but plans to support commercial releases of Hadoop in the future as illustrated in the graphic below:
The graphic shows how Piston CloudOS 4.0 aspires to become a one stop shopping ground for frameworks that allow enterprises to launch application development, application management and data analytics-related projects. The deployment of Hadoop on bare metal allows organizations to enjoy performance benefits in comparison to virtualized environments, thereby enabling in-memory technologies such as Apache Spark to function at a high level of performance. By delivering the capability to enjoy push-button deployments of Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark, Piston Cloud accelerates the operational agility of deployment teams that are interested in spinning up virtualized, cloud infrastructures in conjunction with bare-metal environments for their Big Data use cases. Moreover, by supporting technologies such as Docker, Mesos, Kubernetes, MongoDB and Cassandra, Piston Cloud gives customers an impressive array of frameworks and tools in what amounts to the industry’s first turnkey platform for cloud, Big Data and container management. Another advantage of Piston CloudOS 4.0 is that it gives users the ability to redistribute workloads across different frameworks to ensure the continued optimization of the infrastructure.
While Piston CloudOS 4.0 represents an important complement to Piston’s renowned OpenStack capabilities, the obvious question raised by this product offering concerns the significance of the company’s decision to pivot on its core OpenStack offering toward a platform that embraces a broader set of use cases and workloads. While the decision to shift course from a pure OpenStack-play strategy constitutes an astute move to gain an early foothold in the emerging market for integrated cloud, Big Data and application management platforms, the attendant question involves the long-term viability of commercial OpenStack solutions as a standalone offering, particularly in light of Nebula’s decision to close on April 1. Regardless of its implications for OpenStack, however, Piston’s new CloudOS platform represents a noteworthy intervention in the evolution of cloud and Big Data technologies by delivering a unified platform for OpenStack-based infrastructure provisioning, Hadoop deployment and, in forthcoming releases, container management and access to NoSQL as well. The bewildering heterogeneity of cloud, Big Data and application management technologies means that unified interfaces for the provisioning of infrastructures and associated data and applications promise to simplify the workflows and technology management overhead faced by organizations. Meanwhile, by tying OpenStack deployments more closely to contemporary data and application frameworks, Piston promises to increase the attractiveness of its core OpenStack offering by surrounding it with technologies and frameworks that are garnering increased traction in the enterprise.
OpenStack startup Nebula announced on April 1 that it is “ceasing operations” after approximately four years in business. Nebula attempted to productize OpenStack for enterprise-grade deployments but realized that the company had “exhausted all potential options” and therefore decided to close shop. Nebula-based private clouds will continue to operate but will no longer have the benefit of support from Nebula. In a note on its website, the Nebula management team reflected on the company’s decision to suspend operations by remarking:
…We are deeply disappointed that the market will likely take another several years to mature. As a venture backed start up, we did not have the resources to wait.
In total, Nebula raised $38.5M in equity and debt financing from investors such as Comcast Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Innovation Endeavors and well known individual investors Andy Bechtolsheim, David Cheriton and Ram Shriram. The Nebula Management team’s assessment that the enterprise OpenStack “market will likely take another several years to mature” raises questions about the viability of OpenStack startups in a commercial IaaS market that is increasingly dominated by technology behemoths with the capital to acquire cloud-based startups and integrate them into a larger portfolio of cloud and Big Data products and services.
On one hand, OpenStack startups such as Metacloud and Cloudscaling have enjoyed extraordinary successes as evinced by acquisitions led by Cisco and EMC, respectively. On the other hand, Nebula’s failure raises deep questions about the ability of OpenStack startups to gain market traction in the private cloud IaaS space, particularly given the stellar credentials of a leadership team that included Chris Kemp, former NASA CTO and Devin Carlen and Steve O’Hara. That said, another reason for Nebula’s failure could simply involve a deeply flawed business model, but it remains to be seen whether the cloud computing space will ever receive a detailed post-mortem analysis of the reasons underpinning the company’s failure to succeed.