Last week, Bloomberg reported that EMC planned to acquire Cloudscaling, the commercial OpenStack vendor, for “less than $50M” according to unidentified sources close to the deal. Founded in 2006, Cloudscaling has raised approximately $10M in capital to date from sources such as Trinity Ventures, Juniper Networks and Seagate. The deal represents the second major acquisition of an OpenStack startup following Cisco’s recent acquisition of Metacloud for an undisclosed sum. By acquiring Cloudscaling, EMC stands to benefit from the addition of Cloudscaling CEO Randy Bias to its cloud services team. Bias, a well known cloud luminary and OpenStack evangelist, will strengthen EMC’s positioning within the IaaS space by giving the company enviable cloud credentials and thought leadership from day one of Cloudscaling’s integration into the EMC ecosystem. Details of the acquisition have yet to be disclosed although, given EMC’s ownership of VMware and Pivotal, the purchase of Cloudscaling is likely to have significant repercussions for the cloud and Big Data spaces, particularly given Joshua McKenty’s recent transition to Pivotal from Piston Cloud Computing as field CTO. With McKenty and Randy Bias on its corporate or spinoff roster, in conjunction with Cloudscaling’s technology and cluster of talent, EMC looks set to make an aggressive move to combine cloud technologies with big data application development in ways done by almost no entity except Amazon Web Services. More generally, EMC’s acquisition of Cloudscaling illustrates how OpenStack startups are suddenly morphing into hot cakes that are likely to be snapped up by larger vendors intent on getting a larger piece of the OpenStack pie. The industry should expect OpenStack-related acquisitions to proliferate as OpenStack matures and the startups that entered the space three to four years ago increasingly productize and perfect the deployment of their IaaS platforms.
In a stunning announcement, Joshua McKenty, co-creator of OpenStack and co-founder and CTO of Piston Cloud Computing (Piston), revealed this week that he has accepted a position at Pivotal as field CTO. McKenty transitions to Pivotal after a three year stint at commercial OpenStack vendor Piston, during which time he was central to raising approximately $20M in capital, growing the team by a factor of 15 and increasing sales by a multiplier of 1000. McKenty helped build Piston from a “fledgling startup” into “a real business with an incredible group of customers, an established leadership team, and a mature product” as noted in a blog post reflecting on his tenure at Piston. More importantly, however, McKenty served as an OpenStack evangelist that demonstrated the commercial viability of OpenStack as a prominent alternative to proprietary Infrastructure as a Service technologies such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. As a former NASA luminary, McKenty’s position as an OpenStack board member and his outspoken elaboration of OpenStack’s potential gifted OpenStack with technical credibility that ultimately led to its adoption by companies such as IBM, Red Hat, HP, Ericsson and a slew of technology behemoths that now collectively contribute financial and engineering-related resources to the OpenStack project.
OpenStack’s success aside and notwithstanding, however, McKenty noted that his burning technical interest involves simplifying application development and deployment as follows:
This was the central issue that I was recruited into NASA to address in 2008—how to improve both security and efficiency by unifying NASA’s application development into a common platform. Originally called NASA.net, this project quickly ran into a then-common roadblock—the lack of agile and programmatic infrastructure to support this platform.
The past 5 years have been a detour to address this lack of agile infrastructure—a detour that could now be easily termed the “OpenStack” years.
Here, McKenty remarks on how his recruitment to NASA to work on unifying application development was derailed by the lack of adequate technical infrastructure, which ultimately led to the development and refinement of OpenStack over a five year period. McKenty commented further on the complexity of contemporary software development by noting:
Fast forward 30 years, and I now have two daughters, both of whom are trying to “learn to code”. And while the intervening decades have made computers vastly more capable, they have also made them more complex. What was once possible with a single machine (the one sitting in your living room or kitchen, no less), now requires the use of “the cloud”, and an arcane set of tasks with a poorly defined mental model called…deployment.
At Pivotal, McKenty will have precisely this opportunity to work on simplifying application development in conjunction with the Cloud Foundry project. Previously, he had worked with Pivotal on the integration of Cloud Foundry with OpenStack and confessed that much of his interest in OpenStack dissipated subsequent to the success of the integration of the two platforms. McKenty’s transition from Piston to Pivotal signals the end of an era in the history of OpenStack. On one hand, the OpenStack collaboration has already reached a tipping point such that it will continue with the momentum and innovation commensurate to its backing by the world’s most successful technology companies. Nevertheless, the OpenStack world will miss McKenty’s technical acumen, intellectual passion for open source technologies and unique ability to contextualize the place of one technology within the larger technology landscape. McKenty’s move to Pivotal aptly illustrates the story of a man following his passion and intellectual interests as enabled by a truly unique opportunity to join one of the most innovative and powerful technology companies in the world. While McKenty will be missed by the OpenStack community at large, his presence at Cloud Foundry promises to usher in a new era for application development marked by increased simplicity and streamlined processes that render it easier for everyone to write, or at least understand how to write code.
On Thursday, Cisco announced plans to acquire Metacloud, the provider of OpenStack-based on premise private clouds hosted either at a customer’s datacenter, or at one of Metacloud’s five global datacenters. Metacloud also offers hybrid cloud options based on a combination of its hosted and private cloud offerings. Cisco’s acquisition of Metacloud’s private cloud as a service strengthens its ability to execute its Intercloud strategy of building one of the world’s largest networks of cloud platforms. As noted in Cisco’s press release announcing the acquisition, given an IaaS landscape with “OpenStack gaining global acceptance through its ability to handle any workload on any hypervisor on any public or private cloud,” OpenStack constitutes a key component of Cisco’s Intercloud strategy. Cisco’s acquisition of Metacloud builds on its promise from March 2013 to invest $1B in the cloud and illustrates a growing trend whereby large technology companies are starting to acquire nimble cloud startups as evinced by HP’s recent acquisition of Eucalyptus. The bottom line here is that private and hybrid cloud services are increasingly indispensable for any technology company and that the allure of OpenStack as an interoperable IaaS technology platform is gradually achieving fruition. The acquisition of a commercial OpenStack vendor represents the safest bet for a large tech or telco interested in augmenting its portfolio of cloud products and services in contrast to the huge capital investment required to build a proprietary IaaS platform. All this means that OpenStack startups can expect their valuations to soar as large tech companies seek to cash in on cloud products and services before the market becomes saturated with an embarrassment of IaaS riches. As a result of the acquisition, Metacloud employees will become part of Faiyaz Shahpurwala’s team as Cisco’s SVP of Cloud Infrastructure and Managed Services. The acquisition is intended to close in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2015.
HP announced plans to acquire Eucalyptus, the company whose open source private cloud software interoperates with Amazon Web Services, on Thursday, September 11. Under the terms of the agreement, Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos will lead HP’s cloud business as Senior Vice President and General Manager and report directly to Meg Whitman, HP’s President and CEO. Mickos, a longtime critic of the OpenStack project, has recently adopted a more conciliatory approach with respect to OpenStack in what was, in hindsight, rhetorical positioning for his role at HP as leader of the OpenStack-based HP Helion cloud product portfolio. Despite his historical criticism of OpenStack, Mickos has an enviable pedigree for commercializing open source software as the prior CEO of MySQL, now one of the most widely used open source software products in the world. HP CEO Meg Whitman elaborated on Mickos’s pedigree for the position as follows:
The addition of Marten to HP’s world-class Cloud leadership team will strengthen and accelerate the strategy we’ve had in place for more than three years, which is to help businesses build, consume and manage open source hybrid clouds. Marten will enhance HP’s outstanding bench of Cloud executives and expand HP Helion capabilities, giving customers more choice and greater control of private and hybrid cloud solutions.
As Whitman notes, HP’s acquisition of Eucalyptus strengthens its position with respect to hybrid cloud solutions for the enterprise, particularly given the success had by Eucalyptus in interoperating its private clouds with the Amazon Web Services public cloud. Moreover, the experience of Mickos in successfully commercializing open source software suddenly vaults HP’s chances of succeeding in the commercial OpenStack space to the level of Red Hat, IBM and Piston Cloud Computing, whereas previously its Helion cloud portfolio evinced little in the way of a promising commercialization strategy or roadmap. Even though details of the integration of Eucalyptus with HP remain scant, the one certainty that results from HP’s acquisition of Eucalyptus is that the market dynamics within the commercial OpenStack space have now shifted dramatically, almost as if overnight. The rest remains to be seen as Mickos has his work cut out for him if he is indeed going to rescue HP from the abyss of empty OpenStack rhetoric to a promising, full fledged product that can compete with the likes of Piston, who have already demonstrated success in mitigating the complexities specific to OpenStack deployment and operations by way of their Piston OpenStack platform. As a result of the acquisition, Martin Fink, the current leader of HP’s cloud business will continue as CTO. Terms of the purchase of Eucalyptus were not disclosed although sources close to the deal speculate that the acquisition price was less than $100M for its technology and 70 or so employees. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of HP’s 2014 fiscal year.
On September 10, StackStorm revealed a partnership with Mirantis to in integrate its operations automation products into products from Mirantis, the Mountain View-based commercial OpenStack vendor. As a result of the partnership, StackStorm’s DevOps and automation products will enhance the Mirantis OpenStack distribution and contribute toward the operational agility of Mirantis OpenStack deployments. Evan Powell, CEO of StackStorm, remarked on the significance of the partnership between StackStorm and Mirantis as follows:
Mirantis is one of the leading OpenStack distributions in the industry today, and we intend to heavily invest in our partnerships so that users can leverage StackStorm alongside Mirantis software and services. OpenStack is playing an increasingly important role in the industry, and enables users to achieve the power and flexibility of the cloud without the rigidity and cost of proprietary cloud services and private cloud platforms. While our software supports more than OpenStack, we depend heavily on the community and are happy to be increasing our support.
Here, Powell underscores the criticality of OpenStack to contemporary cloud computing because of its ability to enable customers to realize the “power and flexibility of the cloud” without the “rigidity and cost of proprietary cloud services.” Powell also notes StackStorm’s intent to expand its partnership program as its technology comes out of a private Beta and achieves general availability later this year. Stackstorm delivers automation and artificial intelligence to the automation of workflows for IaaS platforms in ways that increase operational efficiencies by factors of 10 to 100. Part of the company’s mission involves bringing the automation and massive economies of scale enjoyed by technology giants such as Facebook and Google to mainstream enterprise IT by means of its machine-learning based automation technology. Today’s announcement represents an important milestone for StackStorm as Mirantis will provide a lively Beta site for the evaluation and refinement of its platform. The integration with Mirantis promises to prefigure further partnerships between StackStorm and other OpenStack vendors and a corresponding enrichment of the OpenStack ecosystem more generally. StackStorm is already a leading contributor to OpenStack Workflow as a Service collaboration, Project Mistral.
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.
This week, the OpenStack Foundation launched the OpenStack Marketplace to provide interested parties with a centralized resource for vetted OpenStack products and services. The marketplace is organized into the five categories of Training, Distros (distributions) and Appliances, Public Clouds, Consulting & Integrators and Drivers. Public clouds listed in the OpenStack marketplace have to run a recent version of OpenStack and reveal their OpenStack APIs. Public cloud vendors included in the initial version of the marketplace include Cloudwatt, HP, IO, Internap, Kio Networks, Rackspace, UnitedStack and Vexxhost. OpenStack distributions and appliances that cater to private clouds similarly must pass the constraint of running a recent OpenStack version and exposed OpenStack APIs. Distros and appliances in the marketplace include Canonical, Cloudscaling, EMC, HP, IBM, MetaCloud, Mirantis, Nebula, Oracle, Piston, Rackspace, Red Hat, SUSE and SwiftStack. Importantly, the marketplace also contains a list of drivers that ensure the compatibility of OpenStack technology with hardware and software that leverages data from the Driverlog project maintained by the OpenStack community. Because all products within the marketplace must be screened by the OpenStack Foundation prior to inclusion, the marketplace allows consumers to make choices knowing that products in its purview have been reviewed carefully by the OpenStack Foundation and community. Designed to accelerate OpenStack adoption by simplifying the process of the selection of vendors and technologies, the launch of the marketplace represents a significant milestone for the OpenStack community insofar as it vaults OpenStack into the company of enterprise software communities such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Oracle and IBM that similarly boast online marketplaces. IBM, for example, today announced the availability of its IBM Cloud Manager with OpenStack product on its recently launched IBM Cloud Marketplace.