Piston Cloud Computing disclosed the general availability of Piston Enterprise OS, an enterprise grade deployment of OpenStack for private clouds, on Wednesday. With the announcement, Piston Cloud Computing becomes the first vendor to offer a commercialized version of the OpenStack operating system dedicated to security and private cloud management. The product also features an implementation of CloudAudit that helps administrators understand performance and user activity within their respective cloud environments. Speaking of the importance of private clouds in today’s enterprise environment, CEO Joshua McKenty remarked: “As we continue to see security lag in the public cloud environment, it is clear that private cloud is really the only option for organizations dealing with large volumes of regulated data. To date, VMware was the only widely accepted option for private cloud, which brought with it associated cost, complexity and vendor lock-in. Piston Enterprise OS disrupts the market with the easiest, most secure and open approach to private cloud.” Here, McKenty claims the importance of private clouds for enterprises that have specific regulatory or compliance needs and evince particularly high concerns about security. McKenty notes Piston Enterprise OS promises to disrupt the enterprise cloud computing landscape by providing the industry’s “first OpenStack-based cloud operating system” dedicated to cloud security and streamlined management of the virtual cloud environment. The general availability of Piston Enterprise OS accelerates the commercialization of OpenStack, the largest open source collaboration on cloud computing in the world.
Whereas Time magazine selected “The Protester” as the Person of the Year, the award for Technology of the Year surely goes to Cloud Computing. 2011 marked the year that cloud computing emerged with force and gravitas onto the enterprise landscape. In the case of enterprise CIOs and IT leaders pondering the use of cloud computing infrastructures, the question of the day suddenly morphed from whether to engage the services of a cloud provider to when and how. Over the course of the year, cloud providers grew, emerged, acquired companies or were acquired, raised venture capital and announced products at a dizzying pace.
Within months, the cloud computing landscape transformed from the Amazon, Rackspace, Joyent, Terremark, Savvis show to something radically heterogeneous and complex. As more and more cloud technologies proliferated, analysts and technologists alike began to feel that the term “cloud computing” itself was losing its meaning. Meanwhile, news agencies and blogs struggled to keep up with the pace of innovation and deployment as startups and enterprises alike announced new, exciting and powerful cloud technologies day after day, week after week.
Below are some of the highlights of cloud computing in 2011, the year of the cloud:
• In January and February, Amazon Web Services busted out of the gate in 2011 with the launch of Elastic Beanstalk and CloudFormation. Elastic Beanstalk automates the process of deploying an application on Amazon’s virtual servers. CloudFormation automates the provisioning of virtual resources using templates that streamline the setup of an infrastructure for deployments of new instances.
• In May, Citrix announced plans to launch Project Olympus, an IaaS platform that allows customers to leverage the OpenStack operating system code to create public or private clouds. Project Olympus marked the first commercialization of OpenStack and thereby inaugurated a series of commercial OpenStack deployments throughout the remainder of 2011.
• In May, Red Hat launched IaaS platform CloudForms and PaaS platform OpenShift. CloudForms signaled genuine innovation in the IaaS space because of its Application Lifecycle Management capabilities and hybrid infrastructure flexibility. OpenShift, meanwhile, presented direct competition to Google Apps, Windows Azure and Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk because of the breadth of its deployment platform and claims about increased portability.
• In June, Apple announced details of iCloud, a software framework that synchronizes files across multiple devices such as iPads, iPhones and personal computers, and pushes software updates to a constellation of devices in unison. In a keynote address at the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), Steve Jobs famously remarked that iCloud would “demote the PC and Mac to being a device,” because “we’re going to move the digital hub into the cloud.”
• In August, Amazon Web Services announced the launch of GovCloud, a private cloud for government agencies that complies with regulatory and compliance rules for the Federal government such as FISMA, FIPS 140-2 compliant end points, SAS-70, ISO 27001, and PCI DSS Level 1.
• In September, OpenStack, the open source cloud computing infrastructure that gained the backing of 144 companies including AMD, Canonical, Cisco, Dell, Intel and Citrix, released Diablo, its latest software version since the Cactus release in April 2011. Diablo, the first upgrade to OpenStack released on a 6 month schedule, upgrades its existing Nova, Object Storage and Glance components.
• Also in September, Joshua McKenty’s startup Piston Cloud Computing launched pentOS, one of the first enterprise grade versions of OpenStack for private clouds. With the launch of pentOS, Piston joined HP, Citrix Systems, Nebula and Dell in an elite group of vendors that commercialized the OpenStack platform in the latter half of 2011.
• In October, Rackspace revealed plans to turn over the leadership of OpenStack to an independent foundation. After founding OpenStack with the collaboration of NASA in the summer of 2010, Rackspace decided to hand over trademarks and copyrights to an independent foundation to ensure that OpenStack remains vendor neutral.
The meteoric rise of OpenStack constituted the cloud computing story of the year, by far. Commercial deployments of OpenStack by Piston Cloud Computing and other vendors underscored the emerging power of OpenStack as an increasingly competitive option to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) vendors such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. Moreover, OpenStack promised global cloud inter-operability and standards resulting from an open source organizational framework for which respect snowballed within the developer and enterprise community alike. Much of the story of cloud computing in 2012 will hinge on the ability of the OpenStack foundation to continue to promote the software framework’s adoption in the private sector and establish itself as a credible counterweight to first mover Amazon Web Services and other proprietary cloud vendors.
On Thursday, Internap launched its Open Public Cloud compute product and subsequently claimed stake to the hotly contested title of “first commercial deployment of the OpenStack cloud computing platform.” In its press release, Internap noted that its Open Public Cloud delivers “high-performance, on-demand provisioning and scaling of enterprise computing capacity to meet changing web and application demands.” Additional features of the Open Public Cloud include an easy to use management interface, APIs and use of the Xen Cloud Platform. Internap’s Open Public Cloud platform is built upon the Cactus release of OpenStack and hence has yet to incorporate the latest enhancements to OpenStack specified in its Diablo release. Internap joins Dell, Citrix, Piston Cloud Computing and Nebula in laying claim to the first commercial grade deployment of OpenStack cloud computing software. In late September, Piston Cloud Computing launched an enterprise grade deployment of OpenStack with its pentOS offering for private clouds.
Open source cloud computing took another giant leap forward with Piston Cloud Computing’s September 27 announcement of the launch of pentOS™. pentOS marks one of the first enterprise grade versions of OpenStack, the open source cloud computing infrastructure that has gained the backing of 110 companies including AMD, Canonical, Cisco, Dell, Intel and Citrix. The deployment of pentOS underscores the emerging power of OpenStack as an increasingly competitive option to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) vendors such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. With pentOS, Piston joins Citrix Systems, Nebula and Dell in an elite group of vendors that commercialize the OpenStack platform. Piston marks one of the first live deployments of an enterprise grade level of OpenStack because Nebula’s OpenStack-based appliance and Citrix’s Project Olympus anticipate shipping in Q4 of this year.
With pentOS, Piston Cloud Computing leverages OpenStack’s IaaS software and additionally provides enterprise-level security, scaling and customer support. Some of the key features of pentOS involve the following:
• Ease of scalability: patent pending Null-tier architecture allows enterprises to scale their cloud architecture by replicating individual servers, one at a time, instead of upgrading an entire ecosystem of different machines.
• An enterprise installation of CloudAudit, a tool that enables cloud providers such as Piston to provide details of security and performance to potential customers.
• Enterprise customers can use pentOS to build private clouds and inter-operate with public clouds built upon an OpenStack infrastructure.
Piston’s announcement comes head on the heels of OpenStack’s launch of Diablo, its latest software release since the Cactus release in April 2011. Diablo, the first upgrade to OpenStack released on a 6 month schedule, upgrades its existing Nova, Object Storage and Glance components. The Diablo release additionally features OpenStack Dashboard and KeyStone. OpenStack Dashboard gives users access to an interface to understand performance within their cloud deployments. OpenStack Keystone provides enhanced authentication and identity management functionality.
Founded by CEO Joshua McKenty, chief technical architect of the NASA Nebula Cloud Computing Platform, and Christopher MacGown in early 2011, San Francisco based Piston Cloud Computing is funded by Hummer Winblad and True Ventures. The company’s deployment of an enterprise version of OpenStack significantly alters the horizon of cloud computing options available to enterprises that have particular concerns about vendor lock-in. Once deployed in General Availability mode, pentOS, Nebula and Project Olympus collectively promise to reconfigure the balance of cloud computing market share away from Amazon Web Services, Rackspace and Joyent, toward commercialized offerings of OpenStack that can deliver the portability increasingly demanded by enterprise CIOs.
Piston Cloud Computing recently completed a $4.5 million funding raise from Hummer Winblad and True Ventures, Divergent Ventures and other angel investors. According to the company’s blog, the company’s offering “extends the OpenStack cloud solution to address the security, performance, and lifecycle management problems in today’s hybrid cloud approaches, and specializes on the federation of large, complex datasets that have regulatory requirements for authentication and access control.” Right off the bat, Piston positions itself in the red hot cloud computing security space with reference to its ability to manage large-scale datasets with complex regulatory requirements regarding privacy and security issues. Piston Cloud Computing was founded in early 2011 by Josh McKenty, lead architect for NASA Nebula’s Cloud Infrastructure, and Chris MacGown, Technical Lead at Slicehost, which was acquired by Rackspace in 2008. Puneet Agrawal of True Ventures commented on True’s support of Piston as follows:
At True, we have been following OpenStack, the open source cloud operating system, very closely over the past year. What became clear quickly was that OpenStack was real and gaining momentum with developers in addition to large enterprises. The project now includes over 80 participating companies, including Dell, Cisco, Citrix, and Rackspace, among others…So when we had the opportunity to fund the lead architect behind its development, we jumped at the chance.
Agrawal’s remarks speak volumes about the respect had by OpenStack in investor circles. Piston represents just one of the recent commercializations of OpenStack, following closely open the heels of Citrix’s Project Olympus. The industry should expect more commercializations of OpenStack as companies lower the cost of development by incorporating OpenStack into the core of their cloud offering. Conversely, investors will watch the fortunes of projects such as Piston and Project Olympus closely in order to gauge the rigor of OpenStack’s process for incorporating code from contributors all over the world. Despite the fierce need for security products for the cloud infrastructure space, Piston faces stiff competition from a constellation of other companies gravitating to the cloud security space. For example, Bromium, a San Francisco based start-up that recently raised $9.2 million in Series A funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners, emerged from stealth mode in June and announced its operation at the intersection of “virtualization and security.” Peter Levine, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, noted that “Bromium turns today’s security model on its head and exploits virtualization and the latest hardware features to shift the balance of power in favor of the good guys.”