Piston Cloud Adds Big Data Frameworks To OpenStack With Piston CloudOS 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.


Apprenda and Piston Cloud Partner To Create Turnkey IaaS and PaaS Platform

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.