Piston Cloud Computing

OpenStack Innovator Joshua McKenty Leaves Piston Cloud Computing For Pivotal

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.

Categories: OpenStack, Piston Cloud Computing, Pivotal

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.

Categories: IaaS, OpenStack, Piston Cloud Computing | Tags: , ,

Piston Cloud Computing Selected By Swisscom To Advance Its Cloud Strategy

Piston Cloud Computing today announced its selection by Swiss telecommunications provider Swisscom to lead the development of its cloud-based infrastructure. As a result of the partnership, Piston will provide Swisscom with a cloud-based infrastructure built on its turn-key commercial OpenStack solution in addition to professional services. Swisscom plans to migrate the “majority” of its IT applications to the cloud over the next few years and as such, OpenStack-based cloud environments represent a key component of its overarching cloud strategy. Piston plans to deliver Swisscom with two interfaces in the form of one platform for Swisscom’s day to day operations, and another for its customers. Swisscom boasts over 6.4 million mobile customers, a million TV customers and 2 million broadband connections for retail. The deal represents an important coup for Piston as it continues to expand its presence in the commercial, private cloud OpenStack space, as well as for the OpenStack platform more generally. Swisscom’s selection of Piston Cloud Computing also illustrates the early success of the February release of Piston OpenStack 3.0, Piston’s most advanced turn-key platform for deployment and management of OpenStack-based IaaS infrastructures.

Categories: OpenStack, Piston Cloud Computing

Piston Cloud Releases Piston OpenStack 3.0 As Commercial OpenStack Battle Heats Up

Today, Piston Cloud announces the release of version 3.0 of its enterprise-grade OpenStack-based platform for building Infrastructure as a Service cloud environments. Piston OpenStack version 3.0 features improvements in storage, networking, orchestration, diagnostics and monitoring. Piston prides itself on the ability of its platform to integrate with a wide array of hardware, PaaS, storage, networking and orchestration vendors and as such, boasts one of the most flexible turnkey commercial OpenStack solutions in the market today. The announcement of the release of version 3.0 comes in conjunction with news of Piston OpenStack’s production-grade usage by Intelemage, a medical image sharing solutions vendor.

Highlights of Piston OpenStack 3.0 include:

•Multi-tier storage pools with fine-grained configuration parameters that deliver enhanced performance.
•An expanded range of compatibility with software defined networking vendors such as Juniper Contrail, PLUMgrid, and VMware NSX.
•The ability to use Piston’s orchestration platform, Moxie RTE™, for third party services and applications
•Enhanced tools for cluster management and dashboard monitoring of the IaaS infrastructure.

Taken together, version 3.0’s announcements underscore Piston’s commitment to delivering a truly turnkey solution that supports integrations with third party vendors in an effort to simplify the platform’s installation on the part of customers that have pre-existing SDN networking or storage vendors of choice. Meanwhile, Piston OpenStack 3.0 continues to impress by way of its hyper-converged architecture that integrates “virtualized compute, storage, and network capabilities” into each and every server by means of the collaboration between the micro-OS and the Moxie RTE as illustrated below:

The graphic of Piston’s architecture illustrates how the Piston OpenStack solution differs from a configuration where each host has one, full fledged operating system. Instead, the solution boasts a transient, minimalist, Linux-based, “Iocane micro-OS” that operates at the server level. The micro-OS provides “containers, network namespaces, resource limiting and network traffic shaping to Moxie RTE™” such that the Moxie RTE, multi-server run-time environment can manage all of the processes specific to the server-level micro-OS. As a result, IT administrators who confront defective servers or hardware can remove them from the run time environment without losing data or compromising application uptime because of the infrastructure’s distributed architecture. Piston co-founder and CTO Joshua McKenty famously surmised the status of physical servers within the landscape of Piston OpenStack using the metaphor of puppies and cows as follows:

The servers in today’s data center are like puppies – they’ve got names and when they get sick, everything grinds to a halt while you nurse them back to health. Piston Enterprise OpenStack is a system for managing your servers like cattle – you number them, and when they get sick and you have to shoot them in the head, the herd can keep moving. It takes a family of three to care for a single puppy, but a few cowboys can drive tens of thousands of cows over great distances, all while drinking whiskey.

Here, puppies represent the traditional data center environment that attempts to remediate problems specific to a server or hardware more generally, whereas the cattle are illustrative of an environment that allows for hardware to be disposed of as necessary, with no harm to the larger infrastructure. In a subsequent blog post, McKenty notes that cattle need to roam, and that they can do so only in the context of “a common host orchestration environment” represented by the MoxieRTE. Piston’s unique distributed operating system architecture in conjunction with a minimalist, micro-OS that avoids the hassles of OS installation, configuration and management means that its customers can focus on monitoring the health of the infrastructure without applying patches, updates and fixes to an OS.

Intelemage, a leader in medical image sharing solutions, today announces its use of Piston for its private IaaS platform. Whereas Intelemage had previously dedicated significant time to deploying and managing servers and their attendant infrastructures, with Piston it has reduced deployment time “down to seconds.” Meanwhile, both the news of the release of Piston OpenStack 3.0 as well as the Intelemage announcement come in the wake of remarkable exchange between Piston and Red Hat whereby Red Hat rescinded Piston’s sponsorship of its upcoming Red Hat Summit. As reported in a Register exclusive, Red Hat cancelled Piston’s sponsorship, refunded the $13,000 sponsorship fee and subsequently overturned its cancellation and waived Piston’s sponsorship fee by way of apology. The reasons for Red Hat’s cancellation of Piston’s sponsorship are not immediately clear, although one possibility is because Piston reportedly beat Red Hat in the contest for a large OpenStack contract, details of which have yet to be disclosed.

The only certainty, here, is that Piston’s reputation in the market for commercial OpenStack solutions is skyrocketing alongside the emergence of a brand name known for high performing, scalable, easy to use platform that can more than more than bear its weight against larger IaaS and virtualization players such as Red Hat, Ubuntu and VMware. After years of preparation, the commercial OpenStack space finally appears ripe enough for intense competition as key players step up and differentiate themselves from the pack. With version 3.0, Piston appears poised to go toe to toe with the likes of Red Hat, HP, Dell, IBM and Cloudscaling if not surpass them altogether with superior technology. The next six months will be critical for the commercial OpenStack space given that the market finally appears ready to explore solutions on a wider scale than previously. Expect Piston to be at the forefront of the commercial OpenStack land grab, particularly in light of its relationship with Pivotal and the Cloud Foundry-OpenStack integration project.

Categories: Piston Cloud Computing, Red Hat | Tags: , , , , , ,

Pivotal And Piston Cloud Partnership Intends To Refine Integration Between OpenStack And Cloud Foundry

Last Thursday, Piston Cloud (Piston) and Pivotal announced a partnership whereby Piston will deliver the community OpenStack infrastructure for Cloud Foundry. The partnership enables Pivotal to continue refining the integration of Cloud Foundry with OpenStack that Piston achieved last year. Thursday’s announcement means that Cloud Foundry’s developer ecosystem will be tightly integrated with Piston’s OpenStack distribution in order to ensure the resulting IaaS-PaaS, OpenStack-Cloud Foundry infrastructure successfully negotiates challenges related to continuous integration, rapid release cycles and scalability considerations. Piston’s co-founder and CTO, Joshua McKenty, will serve on the Cloud Foundry Advisory Board and Piston will continue to function as a partner for rapid deployments of Cloud Foundry.

James Watters, the head of product, marketing, and ecosystem for Cloud Foundry, remarked on the work specific to the integration in an interview with The Register by noting, “there’s a fair amount of work to make sure an IaaS and a PaaS like Cloud Foundry that automates itself through APIs all flows together very well” and that “every hour of every day Cloud Foundry gets tested on Piston.” Meanwhile, Joshua McKenty identified some of the integration issues that the partnership proposes to examine as follows:

We actually did most of the work to make sure Cloud Foundry could run on OpenStack last year. It’s not a tremendously complicated API, but it is important that it’s consistent and reliable. One of the things we’ve really focused on with Piston OpenStack is making sure the services are highly available, so as you scale up the scope of the Cloud Foundry environment on top, the IaaS environment can handle it.

Here, McKenty singles out the consistency and reliability of the Cloud Foundry API and the scalability of the OpenStack infrastructure in relation to the Cloud Foundry platform as topics for investigation. In a guest blog post for Cloud Foundry, McKenty further noted that Piston’s aim is to “to keep up with and continue to support the growing Cloud Foundry ecosystem” given that the fundamental goal of cloud computing is “really just about providing the computing resources to keep up with the fast-paced DevOps and Agile lifecycle.” In other words, Piston intends to “keep up with” Cloud Foundry not only from a scalability perspective, but also in the context of its rapidly evolving, agile-driven code base and enhancements.

Overall, the partnership represents a huge coup for Piston given that it was hand-picked from the cottage industry of OpenStack vendors and distributions. More importantly, however, the announcement underscores the weight of the market momentum in favor of open-source based cloud computing platforms. Moreover, Thursday’s partnership increases the commercial viability of Cloud Foundry insofar as it was motivated in part by customer requests and interest. The industry should expect McKenty to bring his expertise in OpenStack governance to Cloud Foundry’s emerging governance structure and help drive a rapid expansion in Pivotal’s partnering companies and organizations with respect to Cloud Foundry. As the integration between OpenStack and Cloud Foundry matures courtesy of the Pivotal-Piston partnership, we may even see the evolution of a formal collaboration beween OpenStack’s governance structure and Cloud Foundry’s emerging model of governance and open source software leadership.

Categories: OpenStack, Piston Cloud Computing, Pivotal | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Piston Cloud Releases Version 2.0 of Piston Enterprise OpenStack With Advanced Management and Orchestration Capability

Piston Cloud Computing announces the release of version 2.0 of its enterprise OpenStack platform for managing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) private clouds today. Built on OpenStack Folsom, version 2.0 features an array of new features and functionality that streamlines the process of deploying and managing IaaS clouds by leveraging DevOps-related tools and improved storage and memory functionality. Highlights of the release include the following:

•Automated provisioning and configuration

Piston Cloud’s Moxie HA platform automates the application of system upgrades, the re-balancing of VMs, and the provisioning and configuration of new resources in collaboration with CloudBoot, an advanced system orchestration platform. As a result, system administrators can monitor and manage their infrastructure with such ease that the platform is analogous to “managing your servers like cattle – you number them, and when they get sick and you have to shoot them in the head, the herd can keep moving,” as described by CTO and co-founder Joshua McKenty.

The graphic below illustrates the centrality of the Moxie HA and CloudBoot orchestration platform to the platform’s architecture:

Piston Enterprise OpenStack Version 2.0

•Shared storage that leverages open source storage solution Ceph

Piston’s open source Ceph storage solution allows customers to leverage virtual SAN solutions as well as take advantage of existing hardware such as RAID-based Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) or SATA devices.

•Capability To Add Additional Virtual Machines In Less Than A Second

Virtual Memory Streaming (VMS) delivers unique capabilities to clone VMs and thereby launch extra virtual machines in less than a second. VMS is a software extension to the KVM hypervisor that leverages sophisticated hypervisor memory management technologies to enable the creation of new VM instances through cloning.

Overall, Piston Enterprise OpenStack version 2.0 is an unequivocally more robust product that provides an integrated, private cloud deployment and management experience over and beyond a simple OpenStack distribution. The release is compatible with all major software defined networking (SDN) platforms and additionally boasts complete interoperability with other OpenStack distributions and the ability to integrate with commodity hardware from x86 vendors such as IBM, Dell, Cisco, HP and Supermicro. One of the platform’s core differentiators consists of its integrated orchestration and configuration management technology that minimizes the degree of day to day operational oversight of the private cloud, IaaS environment. Piston’s CEO Jim Morrisroe surmises the value of the platform by noting:

Piston Enterprise OpenStack 2.0 is perfect for enterprise DevOps teams and AWS customers that want to reduce operating costs and dependencies with a private cloud solution, while maintaining the agility and scalable performance of a true cloud architecture.

In the wake of the release of OpenStack Grizzly and widespread backing of OpenStack for cloud platforms by the likes of IBM, Red Hat and even Oracle, Piston Enterprise OpenStack version 2.0 points to the emergence of a turnkey OpenStack solution for IaaS private clouds that brings all of the agility and scalability of public clouds to the enterprise’s doorstep. For the first time, the product also claims premium levels of customer support that attempt to allay concerns about the ability of a smaller vendor to nimbly respond to the needs of its customers.

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Piston Cloud Computing Secures $8 Million In Series B Funding

This week, Piston Cloud Computing announced the finalization of $8 million in Series B funding from Cisco Systems, Data Collective and Swisscom Ventures, with additional participation from Divergent Ventures, Hummer Winblad and True Ventures. The $8 million in Series B funding builds upon $4.5 million in Series A funding from July 2011. The funding will be used to accelerate Piston’s product development and enhance the company’s ability to respond to the needs of its expanding product base. Piston recently appointed open source industry veteran Jim Morrisroe as CEO and correspondingly freed up Joshua McKenty, the company’s founding CEO, to focus on product development for Piston and his responsibilities as a board member of the OpenStack Foundation. Piston claims a unique and powerful position in the commercial OpenStack space given the depth of its executive experience in OpenStack and commercial open-source software. The company delivers software for managing private clouds based on OpenStack Infrastructure as a Service technology. Piston Enterprise OpenStack leverages its proprietary Moxie High Availability platform to minimize service disruptions and Null-Tier Architecture to simplify scaling and overall infrastructure management. Piston’s core product boasts the ability to operationalize an OpenStack private cloud in less than 10 minutes.

Categories: OpenStack, Piston Cloud Computing, Venture Capital | Leave a comment

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