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Summary:

Spain’s StackOps released one of the first OpenStack distributions, and now it’s come out with a suite of tools to help small service providers and enterprises jump aboard the speeding OpenStack train.

StackOps 360

Madrid-based StackOps may not be one of the biggest names in the OpenStack scene just yet, but it certainly has vintage on its side – the company put out what was arguably the first OpenStack distribution at the end of 2010 (Canonical released it in 2011). As of May this year, the company had seen a respectable 65,000 downloads. And now it’s released a suite of management tools called StackOps 360 that tries to make OpenStack as simple as possible for the small service provider and enterprise markets.

StackOps 360 comprises four main products: a deployment automation tool; a pre-packaged high availability tool for service providers with tight service-level agreements (SLAs) to fulfil; a chargeback facility for those who want to set up pay-as-you-go public clouds or service internal business customers; and an extensible UI development framework called StackOps Portal.

OpenStack abstracted

“We have kind of abstracted the whole OpenStack for a sysadmin who doesn’t have the time to get trained on OpenStack,” COO and co-founder Arturo Suarez explained to me, referring to the StackOps Automation tool.

As for the chargeback tool, Suarez explained that it collects metrics from the layers above the user’s Openstack infrastructure, as well as from that infrastructure itself. “You can create products which are going to be a mix of parameters coming from pure infrastructure – CPU, RAM, etc – or from the applications running on top,” he said. “

The StackOps Portal is interesting, too – eschewing the Horizon UI of OpenStack itself, it is instead an extensible HTML5 rich web application that can be used to manage any public or private OpenStack clouds, regardless of the vendor behind the distro.

Lower learning curve?

Of course, StackOps is far from the only company trying to take the effort out of OpenStack deployments for smaller users. Nebula is a key competitor, although Suarez is somewhat dismissive of that company’s plug-and-play model, which is based around a hardware controller.

“They’re selling the controller. The cost of that solution is really going to be higher because they’re using specific components,” he said. “Nebula also does not have a portal – they have Horizon in a fancy interface, nicely tuned, but it still doesn’t allow you to do some of the operations that you need to do in your cloud, such as managing your catalog.”

Suarez also pointed out that, unlike many competitors, StackOps doesn’t rely on third-party products such as Puppet (see disclosure) or Chef to handle deployments. He claimed there was risk involved with using such tools, especially with Puppet’s ties to VMware, and suggested the learning curve was higher using them than with his company’s package. “You really don’t need to know OpenStack to deploy an OpenStack Cloud with StackOps,” he said.

StackOps certainly talks a good game, and it will be interesting to see how its easy-as-possible approach to OpenStack plays out in the small service provider market, as a counterpoint to the likes of OnApp. The company just opened an office in Austin, Texas, to push harder into the American market. “When it comes to selling cloud, it’s much faster than here in Europe,” Suarez observed.

Disclosure: Puppet Labs is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

  1. David Mytton Monday, June 17, 2013

    I’m not sure about their dismissal of Puppet and Chef – these tools are very advanced, flexible and adopted pretty much exclusively – but StackOps itself is a great example of the kind of business model that I think we’ll see around OpenStack. It’s these extra management tools and making things easy to deploy which add a lot of value, and are what you can charge for on top of the base, open source product.

    But I wonder what Rackspace might come up with. They’re clearly focused on providing for the transition from OpenStack powered public cloud through to OpenStack powered private cloud, and the support and services that come with that. But their hosted strategy also involves extra services: monitoring, databases, and others. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they extend that to supporting services for people who run their own OpenStack clouds too. And then they’ll potentially compete with the likes of StackOps.

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