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.”