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 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.

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.

Piston Cloud Computing Reveals General Availability Of OpenStack Based Private Cloud

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.

Piston Cloud Computing Launches pentOS, Enterprise Grade OpenStack Based Cloud Offering

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.